If you are injured at work and become disabled, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. However, insurance companies and employers are always looking for loopholes to avoid paying these benefits. Unfortunately, under Virginia law there are a lot of these loopholes. What you do in the immediate aftermath of your injury and over the next few days or weeks can influence whether you are granted workers’ compensation benefits or not.
Taking a few simple actions when you are injured could potentially save you years of frustration and financial burdens.
Report Your Injury to Your Employer
If you are injured at work, you should report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. Ideally, you should report your injury that same day or the day after. By law, you have 30 days to report your accident, but as a practical matter, sooner is better. The longer you wait to report your injury, the more opportunity your employer has to claim that you hurt yourself doing something else unrelated to work.
It is especially important to report your accident right away if you are injured on a Friday. It is very common for people to be denied benefits if they are hurt on a Friday and do not report until Monday. Your employer will try to claim that you hurt yourself doing something else over the weekend.
The best possible time to report your injury to your employer, if possible, is immediately after it happens.
File a Claim With the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission
You must file your own claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission. Many people do not do this because they are not aware that they need to. Even though you may begin receiving benefits relatively quickly, you still need to file your claim. You have two years in which to file. If you don’t file within the two-year period, your benefits can be cut off.
I once had a client who fell off a ladder and broke his elbow and hip. He was a 60-year-old ironworker, and his doctor declared him disabled from all work. He began receiving benefits checks, but after two years the checks stopped coming. He called the adjuster to ask what was going on. The adjuster told him that the statute of limitations had run out on his case, and he wouldn’t be getting any more checks.
The client had asked when he first started getting benefits if there was anything else he needed to do, and he was told, “No, we’ve got you covered.” The adjuster said that it didn’t matter. The statute of limitations had run, and he would not get any more benefits.
We went to court and alleged fraud, because they lied to the client, saying his benefits were taken care of. After a year-long legal battle, a judge agreed with us and the client’s benefits were reinstated.
So you can see that it’s very important to file your claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission to make sure you receive the benefits that you’re entitled to. A Richmond, VA workers compensation lawyer at our firm can help to review the details of your claim and determine if there is sufficient grounds to pursue a lawsuit.