Whether you’re in Virginia or another state, all work-related injuries or accidents must be reported to your employer as soon as possible.
Our workers’ compensation attorneys often get asked how long they have to report their injury and what happens if they miss the deadline.
This article will thoroughly answer these questions.
About Workers’ Compensation
As a quick review, employees who’ve been injured at work or during the course of their regular duties are entitled to benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act. Unfortunately, if you wait too long to report your injury, you could miss out on these benefits.
The benefits provided by workers’ compensation include lifelong medical treatment and compensation for lost wages. If your injury caused a permanent disability or it impairs your ability to do your job, you could receive financial compensation for that as well. Other benefits include training and education to enter a new field, known as vocational rehabilitation.
How Long Do I Have to Report a Workplace Injury?
The time limit to file a workers’ compensation claim is under Code Section § 65.2-600 of Virginia’s Workers’ Compensation Act is 30 days.
This means the clock starts ticking the moment after your injury, and you have to report it to your boss, supervisor, human resources manager, or company owner within that 30-day period.
Even though you can technically wait a month to report the incident, we recommend notifying the appropriate person immediately. There are a couple of reasons for this recommendation:
- If you’ve incurred medical expenses after the injury but before you file a report, your employer is not obligated to pay for any bills during that window.
- Delaying the report of an incident could compromise your claim. Insurance companies view delayed reports as a red flag of suspicious activity and may try to deny your claim as a result.
If you can’t report the incident or you feel uncomfortable doing so, a representative can provide a written notice on your behalf. Authorized representatives are attorneys, family members, coworkers, and friends.
Plausible Defenses for a Delayed Report
You may have a legitimate excuse for not reporting the incident promptly. Depending on the persuasiveness of your argument (a workers’ comp attorney can help), you may still be able to collect benefits despite missing the deadline.
– Actual notice: If your employer witnessed your accident, they can’t claim a lack of written notice as grounds to deny a claim.
– Incapacity: If your accident resulted in a coma, brain injury, or other head trauma, you likely have a valid excuse for failing to file a written notice.
– Third-party fraud: If you can show that another party engaged in fraudulent activity to delay your employer receiving notice, you may have a valid defense.
– Waiver: If your employer paid your lost wages or medical expenses, these actions might serve as a substitute for a written notification.
– Reasonable Excuse: If you can demonstrate that you had a reasonable excuse that the Workers’ Compensation Commission recognizes, you may still have a valid claim. Reasonable excuses may include a lack of notice of compliance on the premises, the belief that the injury would resolve itself, a lack of a diagnosis from a medical professional, or you submitted medical records about the workplace injury.
Beware of using a defense that usually fails to persuade the Workers’ Compensation Commission. Unsuccessful excuses include:
– Fear of being fired or subject to retaliation
– Not knowing about the 30-day notice requirement
Get Help from an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you want help with your workers’ compensation claim or you need advice about handling a claim that is beyond the 30-day deadline, we’re here to help. Contact Geoff McDonald & Associates for a free consultation.