he Virginia Workers Compensation Commission, also known as the WCC, is a state program that is designed to assist workers who are injured on the job or fall ill to a work-related sickness. Because all workers deserve to live in safe conditions, Virginia law requires that employers carry worker’s compensation for the protection of both employees and employers.
Who does Virginia Worker’s Compensation Cover?
In the state of Virginia, employers who employ three or more employees at any given time are generally required to carry worker’s compensation coverage. While most employees are covered, some classifications are not. The following workers will not be covered if injured or ill:
- State and local officials
- Independent contractors who are self-employed
- Railroad workers in foreign commerce
- Federal employees
- Farm workers when the employer does not employ more than two full-time workers
- Domestic workers
- Executive drivers and taxi drivers who are not subject to taxation
Worker’s Compensation in Virginia
Laws for worker’s compensation in Virginia are very complex and detailed. It is strongly recommended that you seek legal guidance if you plan on pursuing a claim for worker’s compensation. Below, you will find a list of the most frequently asked question on worker’s compensation in Virginia.
What Types of Injuries are Covered?
To receive worker’s compensation benefits, a covered employee must be injured by an accident that happens on the job or when performing a job-related activity. The injury must be sudden and not occur gradually over time to be covered. If repeated activity that causes trauma leads to a disease, this ailment may be covered.
What Types of Diseases Are Covered?
Employees that contract certain diseases may also be eligible to receive worker’s compensation benefits as long as the disease was caused by the employee’s work responsibilities and duties. The disease must occur in the course of your work and must not be a disease that the general public is exposed to regularly outside of the job. There are some exclusions that do apply. Diseases of the back, spinal column, neck and those that lead to hearing loss are specifically excluded.
What Injuries Are Not Covered for Worker’s Compensation Benefits?
You are not eligible for benefits if you were injured or suffer a fatality due to your own misconduct, failure to use safety devices, failure to follow reasonable rules, use of non-prescribed drugs or use of alcohol.
What Should Employees Do Following an On The Job Accident?
Anyone filing a worker’s compensation claim for injury must give their employer written notice of their injury within 30 days from the date the injury occurred. The notice must include: your name, address, date of the accident, place the accident occurred, the cause of the accident, and nature of the injury. The notice should be signed and copied. Once the employer has been notified, you can file a claim with the WCC.
You will have two years to file your claim before you will lose your right to receive compensation under the program. Keep in mind that all eligible employees can file a claim for benefits even when their employer provides medical treatment and pays for your lost wages.
What Happens After the Employer is Notified and the Claim Has Been Filed?
In most cases, a claim is settled when the employee and employer come to an agreement. If either party does not agree, there will be a hearing with the Deputy Commissioner with the WCC. You can ask for a paid-for medical exam to diagnose your injuries and will receive a decision in writing within two weeks of your hearing. If you do not agree with the decision that has been made, you do have the right to appeal to the WCC within 20 days and to the Virginia Court of Appeals within 30 days.
What Do Employees Do If They Have Difficulty Getting Their Benefits?
If your claim is denied, speak with the insurance carrier first. If you can resolve this issue by submitting specific documentation, do so. If you cannot resolve the issue, a claim must be filed.
What happens at a hearing? Is a hearing always necessary?
Hearings before the WCC are proceeding where evidence is presented and people involved testify under oath. While they are necessary at times, they are not always needed. If you and your employee can resolve your dispute, there is no need for a hearing.
Is an attorney needed for a hearing?
It is not always a requirement to have a personal injury attorney present, but these hearings can be very difficult and it is strongly advised that you seek legal representation. It is possible to lose your right to collect benefits by making a simple mistake which a lawyer can help you avoid. The fees for representation may be be deducted from your benefits if you win.
What Benefits Will Be Paid?
The following benefits are covered:
- Death benefits
- Total or partial disability benefits
- Lifetime Medical benefits
- Rehabilitation benefits
- Permanent disability benefits
What are Total and Partial Disability Benefits?
You are entitled to two-thirds your average weekly wage up to a specified limit for up to 500 weeks.
What are the benefits for Lifetime Medical Treatment?
Your medical expenses for treatment will be paid as long as you need care. You will be required to choose a doctor from three options offered by your employer unless the panel is not offered. When necessary, you will receive benefits of $25,000 to modify your home with ramps, beds or other equipment.
What Are the Benefits for Permanent Partial Disability?
If you suffer permanent loss of a body party, you are entitled to additional benefits for a set amount of time.
What Are the Benefits for Permanent Total Disability?
You will receive lifetime benefits when you lose both hands, feet, legs, arms, eyes or any two in a work accident.
What Are Death Benefits?
Your employer is required to pay for funeral expenses, up to $10,000. Your beneficiary or surviving spouse will receive benefits for lost wages of the employee.
What Are the Rehabilitation Benefits?
If you are able to work a light duty job, you are required to look for a light duty job. If you need training to land this job, training will be provided. You can only refuse training if you have a reasonable excuse and still receive benefits.
Can an Employer Fire Someone For Filing a Workers Compensation Claims?
Employers cannot fire anyone solely for the intention of filing a claim.
Can an Employee Sue Their Employee for Injuries or Disease?
The only claim that you can make against an employer for work-related injuries and disease is to file a worker’s compensation claim. You cannot file any other lawsuit in Virginia.
How we can help you
In Virginia, certain work accidents or work related diseases can be covered by worker’s compensation. Filing a claim for worker’s compensation can be a lengthy and difficult process. Simple errors can result in a loss of compensation under the law.
Have You Been Injured In An Accident Virginia, Maryland or Washington D.C.?
If you've been hurt in an accident you need to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Vienna, Virgnia office directly at 703.991.7978 or our Rockville, Maryland office at 301.637.5392 to schedule your free case consultation.