Major employers in Shenandoah County include health care, manufacturing, packaging, HVAC, and telecommunication businesses. When employees working for these businesses are injured on the job, they’re typically eligible for workers’ compensation benefits to cover their medical bills and two-thirds of the wages they lose while off work for treatment and recovery.
If you’re hurt in the course of performing your job duties in Shenandoah County, you don’t have to prove that your employer caused your accident. Whatever the cause of your injury, you may submit a claim for workers’ comp benefits. Your employer may not fire you or retaliate against you for doing so. Your employer’s workers’ comp insurance company, however, might look for ways to deny you benefits, especially if your claim is expensive or complicated. When this happens, a workers’ comp lawyer can help you to seek the benefits you need and deserve.
Common Work-Related Injuries in Shenandoah County
The industries represented in Shenandoah County have some of the highest injury rates among workers and account for a large number of workers’ comp claims every year.
Shenandoah County is home to numerous manufacturing businesses:
- Cargill and Andros Foods employ more than 2,000 food manufacturing and agricultural workers.
- Hollister Incorporated is a health care manufacturer with 1,000 employees.
- Daikin Applied has 1,000 employees who manufacture heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment.
- Mercury Paper is a paper products manufacturer with 100 workers.
- Howell Metal manufactures plumbing and HVAC products and employs more than 150 people.
- Artisan Packaging and Graphic Packaging International employ approximately 1,000 plastic manufacturing and packaging employees.
- IAC Group and Truck Vault, manufacturers of automotive parts and components, employ approximately 250 workers in Shenandoah County.
Manufacturing jobs entail pushing, pulling, bending, squatting, and lifting heavy objects hour after hour and day after day, making musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) common among manufacturing employees. Other hazards in a manufacturing environment include heavy machinery that can malfunction and subject workers to cuts, burns, broken bones, and severed limbs in the worst cases.
Nurses, nurse aides, CNAs, EMTs, physical therapists, and nurse practitioners working for Augusta Health, Shenandoah Memorial, the Commonwealth Center, and other health care providers are the employees most likely to suffer work-related injuries and illnesses in Shenandoah County:
- Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) due to the physical handling of patients and heavy medical equipment
- Hepatitis, HIV, COVID-19, and other conditions spread by airborne and bloodborne pathogens
- Exposure to radiation during X-ray procedures
- Laser burns
- Spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and broken bones due to slip-and-fall mishaps
- Lung damage from inhaling toxic disinfectants and cleaning fluids
- Injuries resulting from physical attacks by violent or mentally ill patients
Carmeuse Lime and Stone is an international mining company with 100 employees at its Shenandoah County location. Employees in the mining industry risk numerous severe and potentially fatal work-related injuries on a daily basis, including:
- Roof collapse. If safety guidelines and regulations are not followed meticulously, the roof of a mine can collapse and seriously injure or kill miners underground.
- Burns. Fires and explosions resulting from methane gas, as well as exposure to dangerous chemicals in a mine, can cause third-degree burns that are very painful and slow to heal.
- Crush injuries. Heavy equipment in a mine can malfunction and compromise the stability of the mine environment, putting workers at risk of being crushed underground.
- Longwall accidents. Longwall mining is a method of extraction that utilizes a machine weighing as much as 120 tons. A longwall equipment malfunction underground is likely to cause catastrophic injury or death.
Mines are strictly regulated by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). If you’re injured or lose a loved one in a mining accident, your attorney can investigate to see if MSHA regulations were violated. If equipment malfunction played a part in your injury or in the death of a loved one, your lawyer can help you file a third-party product liability lawsuit.
Shentel Telecommunications is a provider of internet, cable TV, and telephone services that employs 1,000 workers in Shenandoah County. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), telecommunications line installers, who often climb high poles on the job, suffer approximately 1,000 non-fatal accidents per year. The most common injuries among telecommunications line installers are broken bones and burns.
Steps to Take If You Are Injured on the Job
In order to receive workers’ comp benefits for your work-related injury in Shenandoah County, you must complete the claim process promptly and correctly. Any errors or missed deadlines on your part can enable your employer’s insurance company to deny your claim. This is most likely to happen if your injuries are serious and potentially costly to the insurer. Follow the steps below to maximize your chances of receiving fair benefits.
Report Your Accidental Injury
Although the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission (VWC) gives you 30 days to report your injury to your supervisor, you should do so immediately, in writing. Include the date, time, and place of your injury as well as relevant photos, if possible. Within ten days of receiving your report, your employer should file a First Report of Injury (FROI) form with the VWC and inform the insurer of your injury.
File Your Claim
On the “Injured Workers” page of the VWC website, you’ll find a Claim for Benefits form. Complete this form and submit it to file your claim for benefits. You have two years to do so, but again you should not wait. Any delay on your part in reporting or filing gives the insurer ammunition to use against you. It will claim that your injury is not work-related or that you would have filed sooner if you were as badly hurt as you say you are.
Seek Medical Care
You should be given a choice of three physicians from whom you may seek medical care. Choose one and schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Keep all appointments with this doctor and with any specialists to whom you are referred. Follow the treatment plan, take medication as prescribed, and retain receipts and other documentation of your treatment. If you’re dissatisfied with the diagnosis or treatment you’re receiving, don’t simply stop seeing the doctor. Doing so could hurt your claim. Instead, consult a workers’ comp lawyer who can help you seek an independent exam from a physician of your choice.
How a Workers’ Comp Attorney Can Help
It’s important to remember that the insurance company is generally your adversary in an expensive workers’ comp claim. An insurance adjuster might ask you for a statement about your accident in order to take your words out of context and damage your claim. An experienced workers’ comp lawyer can protect you by handling communications with the insurer. Your attorney will also guide you through the claims process to be sure you satisfy all procedural requirements and don’t miss any deadlines. If your claim is denied, your lawyer can represent you in a Commission Review or a hearing before the VWC. Your attorney can also appeal the denial in civil court if necessary.