How Long Does Workers’ Comp Last in Virginia?
How long your workers’ compensation benefits will last in Virginia is determined by the severity of your injury, your recovery progress, and your ability to return to work. Depending on how acute your injuries are and the extent of your recovery, you may be eligible for benefits ranging from a few weeks to several months, years, or even for the rest of your life.
Normally, the maximum period to receive workers’ compensation wage-loss benefits in Virginia is 500 weeks. However, certain exceptional cases – such as brain and spinal cord injuries, loss of multiple limbs, and other severe injuries – have different rules that go beyond this time limit.
Types of Virginia Workers’ Comp Benefits
There are various kinds of benefits provided by Virginia workers’ comp to support you during your recovery period. These benefits cover medical treatment expenses and compensation for lost earnings. Note that these benefits may not end simultaneously, and one may expire before the other.
Typically, successful claimants receive lifetime medical benefits, ensuring they can get care for the same injury if the need arises in the future. Wage-loss benefits, on the other hand, are subject to duration limits in most cases, which we discuss below.
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
If you must temporarily reduce work due to a partial disability, you will receive support that bridges the gap between your pre-injury earnings and what you can currently earn while dealing with your injury. This assistance will last until your treating physician gives you the green light to resume full duties at work.
Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
If your injury keeps you from carrying out any job, you will receive two-thirds of your salary as compensation until your doctor clears you to return to work.
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)
If your disability is permanent, the duration of your benefits depends on the impairment rating determined by your physician. This rating signifies the extent of your disability and its impact on your work capacity. In cases where you experience permanent loss or loss of functionality in one or multiple body parts, the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act ensures you are entitled to a specific number of weeks of benefits, depending on the specific body part affected. Here are a few examples of such cases:
- Disfigurement - 60 weeks or shorter
- Thumb – 60 weeks
- Eye – 100 weeks
- Hand – 150 weeks
- Leg – 175 weeks
- Byssinosis or brown lung – 50 weeks
- Pneumoconiosis – 50 to 300 weeks.
Permanent Total Disability (PTD)
If you lose multiple body parts, become paralyzed, or develop traumatic brain injury (TBI) due to an unfortunate accident, you deserve lifelong medical support and financial assistance. Securing these essential benefits can be an expensive and challenging process, as insurance companies often resist such claims. This is when an attorney becomes indispensable. They will tirelessly advocate for your rights, ensuring you receive the necessary benefits for as long as you need them.
Steps to Take If You Sustained an Injury in the Workplace
If you unfortunately get injured on the job, it is crucial to complete the necessary paperwork and follow the correct procedures to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. Here are the steps you should take if you find yourself in this situation:
Inform your employer about your injury.
According to Virginia law, it is necessary for injured employees to notify their employers within 30 days of the incident. To ensure a proper record, submit a written notice. Promptly reporting your injury is crucial as it signifies the seriousness of your claim.
Complete a workers’ compensation claim form.
Your next step is completing a workers’ compensation claim form and submitting it to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. After you’ve reported your injury to your employer, your employer will also submit their own report to the Workers’ Compensation Commission and the workers’ compensation insurance carrier separately.
Watch what you say to the insurance company.
Once your employer has submitted their reports, you can expect a call from your employer’s workers’ comp insurer. The insurer will request a statement from you regarding your injury and the circumstances surrounding it. It is advisable to speak with an attorney before providing any statement to the insurance company, as they may attempt to use your statement to deny your claim or minimize the compensation you receive.
Wait for a benefits award order.
Once the Workers’ Compensation Commission has received your claim form, they will promptly inform your employer’s workers’ comp insurer of their responsibility to make a decision within 20 days. If your claim is approved, you will shortly begin receiving your entitled benefits, and the commission will diligently prepare an Award Order affirming these benefits.
In the unfortunate event that your claim is denied, the commission offers the option to schedule an appeal hearing. During this important proceeding, both you and the insurer will have an opportunity to present any additional evidence regarding your case.
Follow the doctor’s orders.
Seek prompt medical care from a physician who has been approved by your insurance company. It is crucial that you strictly adhere to this doctor’s treatment plan. This includes attending all appointments and diligently following the prescribed medication regimen.
Once you have reached the stage of maximum medical improvement (MMI), your doctor may permit you to resume your previous position or provide you with specific restrictions requiring a light-duty job. If an opportunity for such a job arises, it is essential that you make an honest effort to undertake it. Failure to do so could potentially harm your claim.
When to See a Lawyer
If you find yourself in any of the following situations, it is crucial to reach out to a workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible:
- The insurance company requests a statement from you regarding your accidental injury.
- Your claim is denied.
- The number of weeks allocated for receiving benefits is insufficient.
- You are dissatisfied with your doctor or the treatment you are receiving.
- You are unable to perform the assigned job.
- You face any form of retaliation from your employer.
- You have not received timely approval for necessary medical treatment.
If you’ve had a workplace injury in Virginia, Slominski Law is here to assist you in obtaining the benefits you rightfully deserve. Schedule a free consultation by calling us at (434) 384-9400 in Lynchburg or (540) 554-3762 in Roanoke. We understand the challenges you’re facing, and we’re committed to helping you through this difficult time.