If you’ve been injured on the job, it is important that you understand your rights to compensation under Virginia law, so you don’t have to fight with your employer for benefits. Below are the benefits you are entitled to and the guidelines you must follow, according to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission:
Temporary, Total, or Partial Wage Replacement
- While you are temporarily unable to work, after a minimum of seven (7) days of disability you are entitled to two-thirds (2/3) of your gross average weekly wage, up to a set maximum weekly limit.
- If you are disabled for more than three (3) weeks, you should receive payment for those first seven days. This benefit cannot exceed 500 weeks unless you have been totally and permanently disabled.
- If you cannot return to regular work and are given a light duty job at a lower wage, benefits are 2/3 of the difference between the pre-injury wage and the current pay up to the maximum weekly limit
- Note: cost of living supplements are not paid on temporary partial benefits.
Lifetime Medical Benefits
- Medical expenses for conditions caused by the accident or occupational disease are payable for as long as necessary, provided you filed a claim within the required time period.
- Note: you must file a claim with the Workers' Compensation Commission within two years from the date of the accident or any right to benefits may be lost.
- In order to receive these benefits, you must select a doctor from a panel of three physicians provided by your employer.
- If a panel is not offered after notice of the accident, you may seek treatment from any physician.
- Your treating physician may refer you to other doctors as he or she sees fit.
- Once you begin treatment, you cannot change your physician without approval of your employer or without a hearing by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission.
- You must cooperate with medical treatment or the weekly benefits may be suspended.
- You should have your medical bills sent to the insurance carrier for payment.
Permanent Partial Impairment
- You can receive separate benefits for the permanent loss of use of a body part such as an arm, leg, finger, or eye.
- You can also be compensated for vision and hearing loss, as well as disfigurement.
- Compensation is not provided for the back, neck or body as a whole.
- The benefits you will receive are for a specific number of weeks depending on the percentage of loss you experience.
- You can receive these benefits while working if maximum medical improvement has been reached.
Permanent and Total Disability
- You may receive lifetime wage benefits if you lose both hands, arms, feet, legs, eyes, or any two in the same accident, or if you are paralyzed or disabled from a severe brain injury.
- Your surviving spouse, children under 18, children under 23 enrolled full time in an accredited educational institution, parents in destitute circumstances or other qualifying dependents may be entitled to receive your wage loss benefits.
- Death benefits include funeral expenses are not to exceed $10,000 and transportation cost of $1,000.
Cost of Living Increase
- If you receive temporary total, permanent total or death benefits then you are entitled to cost of living increases effective October 1 of each year if the date of the accident is prior to July 1 of that year and if the combination of compensation and Social Security benefits are less than 80% of the pre-injury earnings.
- Note: you must specifically request cost of living increases – they are not automatic.
- If you are released to light duty work then you must prove that you are actively looking for a light duty job, even if you are expected to return to your regular job.
- You are required to accept all suitable positions offered, or risk suspension of benefits.
- You might be entitled to retraining, depending on the circumstances of your case.
As you can see, there are a number of rules, exceptions, and caveats in the Virginia Workers’ Compensation benefits. If you’re worried that your workers’ compensation claim isn’t being treated fairly or that you are missing out on benefits that you deserve, please contact the law offices of Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas immediately.
DULANEY, LAUER & THOMAS, LLP
98 Alexandria Pike, Suite 11
Warrenton, VA 20186
Toll Free: 888.907.2631
209 N. West Street
Culpeper, VA 22701
Toll Free: 800.741.1012