In most cases, even if you were partially at fault for a work-related accident, or even entirely at fault, significant workers’ compensation benefits in Virginia are available. These benefits, which vary in different cases, usually include lost wage replacement and medical bill payment.
Virginia workers’ compensation law is complex, to say the least. Over the years, lawmakers have added a number of loopholes that hurt victims and help insurance companies. Furthermore, insurance company interests usually dominate the workers’ compensation process. This process is often long and frustrating.
A competent Richmond workers’ compensation lawyer is a game-changer in many cases. Attorneys build solid, evidence-based claims which usually result in an award of fair compensation. Furthermore, lawyers know how to cut through some of the bureaucratic red tape. With legal help, many victims receive the benefits they need.
Types of Injuries Covered
Generally, workers’ compensation benefits are available for both trauma injuries and occupational diseases if the condition is work-related.
Fall injuries, like a fall from a height or slip-and-fall injuries, are among the most common work-related trauma injuries. These victims usually sustain wounds like broken bones and head injuries. Frequently, these injuries are permanent, at least to an extent.
In non-work-related fall injury cases, landowners and other responsible parties may introduce legal defenses like comparative fault or assumption of risk therefore liability can be blamed on other parties. So such claims are often complex. But as mentioned, workers’ compensation is no-fault insurance. Therefore, any such defenses, even if they are available, are irrelevant and inadmissible. Liability is almost never an issue in job injury claims.
Hearing loss is perhaps the most common occupational disease in Virginia. Long-term exposure to sounds as low as 35 decibels, which is equivalent to the noise a lawnmower makes, could cause permanent hearing loss.
A work-related connection is often an issue in occupational disease claims. Many victims have pre-existing or co-existing conditions which contribute to these injuries. For example, most people don’t hear loud noises exclusively at work. They hear them in other places as well. Generally, full workers’ compensation benefits in Virginia are available in these situations.
Some injuries, like repetitive stress injuries, are a grey area. Technically, Virginia workers’ compensation law doesn’t cover these injuries. However, if the victim traces a knee injury or another repetitive stress injury to a specific work related task, benefits are potentially available.
Lost Wage Replacement
Most job-related injury victims cannot work for several months, or even longer. A few weeks without a paycheck is financially devastating to most families. So the lost wage replacement is arguably the most important workers’ compensation benefit for both victims and their dependents.
Several tiers of lost wage replacement are available, largely dependent on the type and severity of the injury.
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD): If the injured person cannot work at all, they normally receive two-thirds of their Average Weekly Wage for the duration of their temporary disability. The AWW calculation doesn’t just include prior wages. It also accounts for future lost wages. Many injured victims miss overtime and other additional earning opportunities.
- Temporary Partial Disability (TPD): Some victims can work as they recover. But they must reduce their hours or accept a lower-paying light-duty assignment. In these situations, workers’ compensation usually pays two-thirds of the difference between the victim’s old and new incomes. TTD and TPD benefits usually last up to 500 weeks.
- Permanent Total Disability (PTD): Generally, Virginia workers are totally disabled if, due to a combination of two or more serious impairments or a traumatic brain injury, they are unable to work. Not all injuries are disabling to all workers. A dual-leg amputation might end a fisherman’s career. It may not arise to permanent total disability for a teaching career.
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD): PPD injuries frequently involve loss of use, such as reduced range of motion in an injured knee. In both PTD and PPD claims, victims usually receive lump-sum payments to compensate them for future lost wages. The amount of the payment usually depends on the nature and extent of the victim’s disability.
If your temporary or permanent disability lasts more than a year, you may be entitled to an annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). COLA increases lost wage benefits to account for inflation.
Medical Bill Payment
Generally, workers’ compensation also takes care of all reasonably and necessary medical bills. That’s good news for injured persons. Group health insurance companies often refuse to pay injury-related costs for liability reasons. If there is any possibility that another entity might cover medical costs, health insurance companies usually don’t pay them. Some reasonably necessary medical bills include:
- Emergency care
- Follow-up treatment
- Medevac and other transportation expenses
- Prescription drugs
- Medical devices
- Physical therapy
Job injury victims in Virginia are entitled to substantial workers’ compensation benefits. For a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in Richmond, contact Geoff McDonald & Associates, P.C. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available.