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What Does Workers’ Comp Cover in Virginia?


Under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act, a duly hired worker who suffers an on-the-job injury or disease may claim worker’s compensation benefits. What injuries and illnesses are covered, and what benefits can you claim? 

Here’s a guide on Virginia workers’ comp coverage. If you have questions, reach out to an experienced Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer.

Injuries and Illnesses Covered by VA Workers’ Comp

Virginia workers’ comp law covers “injuries by accident” as well as “occupational diseases.” To determine whether your injury or illness qualifies for compensation, it must satisfy several criteria.

The main criterion is that it should have “arisen out of and in the course of the employment,” meaning that it happened during your work, and is caused particularly by your work (instead of being just an “ordinary disease of life”).

A compensable “injury by accident” is one that:

  • Occurred at work or during a work-related function
  • Was caused by a specific job activity
  • Happened suddenly at a specific time. (Gradual or repetitive stress injuries do not qualify unless they count as an occupational disease based on the criteria below.)

Based on these conditions, most types of bodily injuries caused by sudden accidents could qualify, such as fractures, wounds, head trauma, back injuries, joint pain, and the like.

A compensable “occupational disease” is one that:

  • Was caused by something specific to the job (not just something most people could acquire in any type of setting)
  • Is not a disease of the neck, back, or spinal column.

With these criteria, various job-related illnesses may be eligible for workers’ comp. Examples are asthma, lung cancer, and other respiratory problems due to inhaling toxic substances at a work site. Other examples include dermatitis and other skin conditions, heat illness, cardiovascular disease, and other types of cancer.

Section 65.2-400 of Virginia law specifies that carpal tunnel syndrome and hearing loss are “ordinary diseases of life” which would normally disqualify them as compensable work-related diseases. 

However, Section 65.2-401 provides an exemption: an “ordinary disease of life” may be covered by workers’ comp if you can establish that:

  • It arose in the course of employment, and
  • It was caused by something unique to your employment.

If you are unsure whether your injury or illness is covered by workers’ insurance, talk to a workers’ comp attorney. A knowledgeable and experienced lawyer can help you navigate the law to get the best outcome possible.

Is COVID-19 covered by workers’ comp in Virginia?

Yes, if you are in the healthcare sector. As of March 2021, Virginia has passed a law that considers COVID-19 an occupational hazard for healthcare workers, so it is covered by their workers’ compensation insurance.

The law is retroactive up to March 12, 2020, which means that healthcare workers who got infected from that date onwards may be able to file a workers’ comp claim.

However, there are exceptions, such as if the worker refused a coronavirus vaccine offered by their employer.

Benefits Covered by VA Workers’ Comp

These are the benefits available under Virginia workers’ compensation law:

  • Medical benefits, including but not limited to:
    • Doctor’s visits
    • Medical tests
    • Hospitalization
    • Prescription drugs
    • Prostheses
    • Physical therapy or other needed rehabilitation
    • Mileage reimbursement for medical-related transportation.
  • Temporary wage replacement benefits for disability-related wage loss:
    • Temporary total disability payments
    • Temporary partial disability payments
  • Permanent wage replacement benefits for permanent disability:
    • Permanent partial disability (e.g. amputated one arm or leg, lost sight in one eye, lost hearing in one ear, disfigurement)
    • Permanent total disability (e.g. amputated both arms or legs, total blindness, total hearing loss).
  • Cost of living adjustment (COLA)
    • If you are receiving temporary or total disability payments or death benefits from your loved one’s work-related death, you may claim additional benefits for the cost of living increase.
  • Vocational rehabilitation for workers looking for light-duty work:
    • Vocational evaluation
    • Job coaching or counseling
    • Job placement
    • Education and training.
  • Death benefits for beneficiaries of someone who died from an on-the-job injury or illness
    • Burial expenses up to $10,000
    • Transportation expenses up to $1,000
    • Compensation to dependents.

Call a Virginia Workers’ Comp Lawyer Today

If you have any concerns about your Virginia worker’s comp eligibility, benefits, or payments, it is best to reach out to a lawyer. 

Attorney Jaleh K. Slominski is ready to listen to you and guide you towards achieving your maximum compensation. Having been in legal practice for over 30 years, she has effectively helped numerous Virginians get properly compensated.

Contact us by email, or call (434) 384-9400 (Lynchburg) or (540) 554-3762 (Roanoke).