Virginia, known as the birthplace of the nation, has continued to grow and provide opportunities for economic prosperity. Whether you work in Richmond or another area of Central Virginia, you should have protections in case you are injured on the job.

The state’s workers’ compensation system mandates that certain employers carry insurance and provide benefits to employees who are hurt in work-related accidents. These laws and benefits vary by state, so it’s helpful to understand your rights in Virginia.

If you’ve been hurt at work or become ill due to an unhealthy work environment, the Richmond and Central Virginia workers’ compensation attorneys at Schilling & Esposito can help you collect the benefits you deserve. Several laws might impact the outcome of your case, so it’s vital that you have an experienced Virginia workers’ comp attorney in your corner to represent your interests.

What is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a type of employer insurance that is supposed to provide certain benefits to workers who are the victims of workplace injuries or industrial illnesses. These programs are state-governed, and you can find Virginia’s laws under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act.

Under this law, employers with two part-time or full-time employees must carry workers’ compensation coverage. This includes subcontractors, and there are no exceptions or waivers to the coverage requirements.

When your injury falls under workers’ compensation, there is a trade-off. By state law, you are supposed to be entitled to certain benefits, such as medical care and lost wages. The law, however, will not allow you to sue an employer after an injury. There may be certain exceptions where a lawsuit in addition to workers’ compensation is possible.



Injuries Covered Under Virginia Workers’ Compensation

To be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, your injury or illness must be work-related. Specifically, the law gives several criteria for covered injuries and illnesses. Your condition must have:

  • Happened at work or during a work-related function;

  • Been caused by a specific work activity; or

  • Occurred suddenly and at a specific time.

Unlike most other states, Virginia does not cover claims for repetitive motion or repetitive trauma injuries. The only exception is for carpal tunnel syndrome.

Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Workplace injuries can lead to major life disruptions. No one plans to lose time from work or suffer from an injury that is going to have lasting consequences. Fortunately, workers’ compensation coverage will provide some valuable benefits. The law limits some of these benefits:

  • Temporary partial disability benefits. If you can return to work, but only for reduced hours or light duty, you are entitled to temporary partial disability benefits. The benefit amounts to two-thirds of the difference between your average pre-injury wages and your post-injury wages.

  • Temporary total disability benefits. If you are temporarily unable to work entirely, you can receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage. There are maximum amounts set by the state as well as a seven-day waiting period unless you are out of work for more than 21 days. Temporary disability payments can last for as long as 500 weeks total.

  • Permanent partial disability benefits. Once you have medically stabilized, you may be eligible for permanent disability payments if you have a lasting impairment. This is also paid at two-thirds of your pre-injury wages (subject to a maximum) and will extend out according to a state-mandated schedule for your disability percentage.

  • Permanent total disability benefits. Permanent total disability could entitle you to receive weekly payments for the rest of your life. This could be granted in cases of paralysis, traumatic brain injury, or amputation, to name a few.

In addition to the wage replacement benefits just described, some of the other Virginia workers’ compensation payments include:

  • Medical expenses. You are entitled to payment of all authorized and medically necessary treatment for your injuries or illness.

  • Mileage reimbursement. You will be reimbursed for mileage to and from medical appointments.

  • Vocational rehabilitation. If you cannot return to your normal job, you may be entitled to retraining and job placement services.

  • Death benefits. Loved ones of a deceased worker can file a claim for funeral expenses, up to $10,000, and lifetime wage replacement benefits.

Protecting Your Rights in a Workers’ Compensation Case

Workers’ compensation benefits are extensive, and your employer may not wish for you to file a claim or receive the care that you need after an injury. Their claims experience over the course of a year will impact their insurance rates, which is just one of your employer's motivations for potentially undermining your case.

There are some legitimate reasons for claim denial. These include failure to timely report your injury (you have 30 days), failure to cooperate with the insurance company, and having a non-work related injury or illness.

Unfortunately, an employer might send you to one of their medical providers after an injury who will state that there is nothing wrong with you. This is a determination that you can dispute. Employers might also fire someone for filing a workers’ compensation claim. If the firing was retaliatory in nature, it is not permitted, and you have legal recourse.

Even if your claim is initially denied or you aren’t receiving the benefits you feel you deserve, don’t give up. When you’ve been hurt in a workplace accident, you have rights, and a skilled Virginia workers’ compensation attorney can help you access these valuable benefits.

Speak With an Experienced Virginia Workers’ Compensation Attorney

At Schilling & Esposito, we understand that it’s never easy to deal with a workplace injury or illness. For this reason, our legal team has the goal of making your claims process as stress-free as possible. We have extensive knowledge of Virginia’s workers’ compensation system and will employ every possible resource for your benefit.

If you or someone you love has a workers’ compensation matter, Schilling & Esposito offers a completely free case evaluation and consultation. This means that we will sit down with you, listen to your situation, advise you of your rights, and let you know the choices for possible courses of action.

Being out of work while injured is difficult enough. We can deal with the insurance company and your employer so that you can concentrate on healing. Contact our Forest Hill Avenue office now at (888) 484-4878 or reach us online to schedule your initial appointment.