I Was Hurt At Work In Virginia. What Should I Do?
Virginia law provides compensation for employees who are injured on the job. If you sustained injuries from a work accident or a work condition, you may be able to claim workers’ compensation benefits. Remember these five steps to take immediately after you get injured on the job in Virginia.
1. Report your injury.
You must give notice to your employer about your injury within 30 days of the accident. Missing this deadline would invalidate your worker’s comp claim.
Even though you have a 30-day window, you should report your injury as soon as you can. Delaying even just a day or two could hurt your claim, as it could be taken as a sign that your injury is not that serious.
To notify your employer, see if your company has an injury reporting policy or form. If not, write the report yourself. Include these important details:
- Your name, job position, and contact information
- The date, time, and place of the accident
- A brief account of how the accident happened
- A description of your injury
- Whether anyone witnessed the accident and their names
- Other physical sensations that may be related (numbness, tingling, headaches, etc).
You may turn in this report to your supervisor, foreman, HR officer, or the company owner. It’s crucial that your report is done in writing, and that you get a receipt confirmation from the person you give it to. Save this receipt confirmation as well as other papers they give you.
2. Seek medical care.
Many work injuries look severe enough to call for immediate medical treatment, but even if your injuries seem minor, do not delay going to a doctor. Getting prompt medical attention is important for two reasons.
First, a small-looking injury may later turn out to be more serious than you realize. We’ve seen how an ignored concussion can actually be a harmful brain injury, or how getting hit on the back can produce chronic debilitating pain. Let a physician assess the full extent of your injury.
The second reason to see a doctor right away is that it helps your worker’s compensation claim. It demonstrates that your injury is serious enough to warrant treatment. If you wait before seeking medical care, anyone could assume that you must not have been hurt as badly as you claim.
At every first doctor’s visit, be honest with your physician and make sure they know that your injury occurred at work. Keep all relevant documents including prescriptions, medical records, and receipts.
3. File a claim with the VWC Commission.
To officially claim your worker’s injury compensation, file an accomplished Claim Form with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. The blank Claim Form can be downloaded here. You can file it in person at the nearest VWC office, by mail, by fax, or by WebFile (details here).
You must file your claim within two years of your work accident. Failing to meet this deadline could prevent you from receiving benefits.
Once you file with the VWC, the claims process will be initiated. In a nutshell, the VWC will review your claim and decide whether to award you your benefits or not. If you are unsure of your next steps, don’t hesitate to ask a workers’ compensation attorney.
4. Gather documentation.
Keep all papers and materials that may be relevant to your injury claim – you may need them as evidence. These may include:
- Photos of your injury
- Medical records
- Disability slips from your physician
- Medical bills and receipts
- Your work log or timesheet
- Past incident reports about the work equipment you handle (if any)
- Proof of any other related expenses (such as therapy, a wheelchair, and so on).
5. Talk to a lawyer.
It is possible to pursue a compensation claim alone, but in our experience, too many workers’ comp cases have failed because they did not have the proper legal guidance. For some, the paperwork and processes may be confusing; for many others, dealing with the workers’ comp insurance company is virtually impossible. Insurance companies have been known to use tactics to undermine the injuries of claimants. Sadly, even employers do this sometimes as well.
Even if you are confident with how your employer and their insurer are treating you, it is still important to fully understand your rights and how the process works in the real world. You may consult with a lawyer without hiring one. At Slominski Law, your initial consultation is free and confidential, so you risk nothing by talking to us.
Call Slominski Law
For sound legal guidance after your work injury, talk to Attorney Jaleh K. Slominski. She has helped numerous Virginian employees succeed in their workers’ compensation claims. Call the Slominski Law Lynchburg office at (434) 205-9864, or our Roanoke office at (540) 858-8603.