You put in a hard day’s work to provide for yourself and your family, but does your employer care about your safety? When you experience a workplace accident, you may find your employer’s response to be insulting. At a time when you’re vulnerable and in pain, an employer may turn a cold shoulder to you and refuse to compensate you for your injuries.
Were you hurt on the job? Experiencing a work-related injury can be physically and financially devastating. Not only are you hurt and in need of expensive medical treatment, but you also can’t work and provide for your family.
Virginia lawmakers understand that job-related injuries are particularly challenging, so they created the state workers’ compensation program. However, your employer may not be willing to provide the compensation you deserve.
Some workers are intimidated by employers and simply accept whatever excuse the employer offers them. Other workers want to fight for what they deserve. If you fall into that second group, we’re here to help. At River Run Law, our workers’ compensation attorneys help injured employees get the money they need.
If you would like to speak to us about your workplace injury, please contact our workers’ comp attorneys for a free consultation. We can discuss your case and advise you of your legal options. To help you understand the Virginia workers’ compensation law, we’ve compiled the following information.
How Does Workers’ Compensation Work in Virginia?
Most Virginia employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance to pay employees for workplace injuries. Any employer that has three or more full-time or part-time employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance.
Workers’ compensation insurance helps both the employer and the employee. It prevents employers from being sued for workplace injuries, and it gives injured employees a reliable form of compensation.
Injured employees can get their medical bills for injury treatment reimbursed as well as gain disability benefits. The disability compensation depends on the type of disability the employee suffered.
- Partial disability means an employee can return to work with restrictions, and
- Total disability means the employee cannot work at all.
Disability can also be temporary or permanent. Temporary partial disability supplements any wage gap created by your temporary work assignment. Temporary total disability entitles the worker to disability payment calculated at a rate of two-thirds of the worker’s regular wage, averaged over the past year of employment. This disability payment is subject to minimum and maximum requirements, so if you had a low salary, you may be entitled to more than two thirds of your average weekly wage.
Employees who file for workers’ compensation can receive payments for up to 500 weeks or until a doctor declares that you can return to work in some capacity. However, if you are disabled only for a short time, you may not be able to receive any disability payment. Workers are not entitled to disability compensation until they have missed at least seven days of work under a doctor’s orders.
A worker who is declared permanently disabled is paid according to a disability compensation schedule set by Virginia state law. When an employee is killed at work, the family may recover burial expenses, travel expenses, and compensation for dependants.
When an employee is injured at work, the employee should report that injury to a supervisor. The employee should seek medical treatment and follow the doctor’s orders. Also, the employee shouldn’t do anything to make the injury worse. For instance, an employee who suffered a back injury at work shouldn’t help a friend move heavy boxes the following weekend. Doing so could jeopardize the employee’s workers’ compensation eligibility.
Employers should take workplace injury claims seriously. An employer must take these actions to protect injured workers with workers’ compensation insurance:
- Determine if they are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance;
- Carry workers’ compensation insurance when required;
- Report workplace injuries promptly to an insurance carrier;
- Post a workers’ compensation notice in the workplace; and
- Not deduct workers’ compensation coverage from employee wages.
If an employer does not carry required workers’ compensation insurance, they can face a fine from the state and a lawsuit from the injured employee.
Issues with Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Sometimes employers deny their obligation to provide workers’ compensation. Here are some scenarios where employers might misunderstand their legal obligations to take care of injured workers.
When an employer uses subcontractors to fill a role in their business, they are counted toward total employees. Employers must provide workers’ compensation coverage to subcontractors, even if subcontractors have their own insurance.
Independent contractors are also often eligible for workers’ compensation coverage.
Sometimes an employer may not think they are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance because they’re a sole proprietor or have few employees. However, all these people count toward the “three or more” employee requirement for workers’ compensation:
- Corporate officers and LLC managers,
- Family members that perform work for the business,
- Temporary and seasonal workers,
- Part-time workers,
- Illegal Immigrants , and
Having three or more employees in any capacity triggers the need to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. Because insurance protects both the employer and the employee, it’s a smart purchase.
The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act: How It Can Benefit You
Virginia’s state Workers’ Compensation Act was passed on March 21, 1918, and took effect the following year. The law was created to protect both employers and employees from significant financial losses.
The Virginia workers’ compensation law benefits you by requiring your employer to pay for your job-related injuries. Your employer must pay even if your injury was your fault. There may be some exceptions to this requirement. For instance, if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol or committing a criminal act when you were injured, you may violate the workers’ compensation policy. However, if you made a simple mistake, such as getting your hand too close to moving machinery, you’re still covered.
Here are some more points you should know about Virginia workers’ compensation law:
- You cannot sue an employer who carries workers’ compensation insurance;
- Even if you had a pre-existing injury that was aggravated by a workplace accident, you may file for workers’ compensation coverage; and
- Your job performance doesn’t factor into how much workers’ compensation coverage you receive.
The Workers’ Compensation Act is a complex document, and it’s easy to misunderstand aspects of this workplace law. When you are injured at work, you should contact a Virginia workers’ compensation attorney to advocate for the money you deserve.
How to Find a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
When you are fighting to get fair workers’ compensation, you need a skilled attorney by your side. How do you find a qualified attorney who knows the ins and outs of Virginia workers’ compensation law? We suggest taking the following steps:
- Ask coworkers and friends for recommendations;
- If you know an attorney who practices a different area of law, ask them for a recommendation;
- Look at reviews on sites like Google and Avvo; and
- Browse local attorney websites to determine who seems like a good fit for your case.
After you’ve narrowed down a list of attorneys for your workers’ compensation case, call them to schedule a free consultation. You need to meet with an attorney to gain a better understanding of their knowledge and communication skills before you hire them.
Consult a Richmond Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
If you were injured at work, you may need a workers’ compensation attorney. There are many workers’ compensation attorneys in Richmond, but here’s what you should know about River Run Law:
- We are skilled legal advocates who want to get you the money you deserve;
- We work on contingency, meaning you don’t have to pay us until we win your case;
- We get to know you so that we can passionately advocate for your needs; and
- We are a small firm, so you’ll experience a warm and friendly relationship unlike the impersonal service offered by the big firms around town.
To get started on your workplace injury claim, contact our workers’ compensation attorneys for a free consultation. We can meet with you by video conference, speak on the phone, communicate via email, or come to you in person. You can share your experience, ask questions, and decide whether we’re a good fit for your case. We’ll advise you on legal options and get to work as soon as you choose to move forward.