The first month of a workers comp injury is the most critical time for your claim. This is the time when you get the ball rolling and show the deputy commissioner that you mean business. Here are the 6 key steps that you need to take if you are injured on the job:
1. Notify Your Employer:
Give your employer written notice of your injuries that includes your name and address, the time and place of the accident, and the nature and cause of the accident and the injury. Technically, the Virginia Code requires that you give this notice within 30 days of your work-related injury. However, if you didn’t give the written notice but you gave more of an information notice, then you should be ok depending on the circumstances. The Virginia Code doesn’t bar your claim unless the failure to give notice somehow prejudices the employer. If you gave notice that doesn’t comply with the technicalities, the employer still has an uphill battle proving prejudice.
2. File Your Claim:
You can use the claim sheet that the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission has made available on its website. You can file online by setting up a WebFile account with your email and a new password. You can also mail the sheet to 333 E. Franklin St., Richmond, VA 23219 or bring it to the office in person. Or you can fax the sheet to 804-823-6956.
3. Get Medical Help:
Your employer will give you a panel of three different physicians to visit for treatment. You need to choose one of these and diligently pursue your medical recovery. If you went to the emergency room immediately following your accident, do not fret. Your benefits will not be suspended unless you choose not to use one of the physicians provided by your employer after your emergency treatment. If your employer does not give you a panel of physicians, then you get to pick your doctor. And your treating physician calls the shots for your treatment, not your employer or a nurse case manager.
4. Follow Up With Your Treatment
Once your treating physician tells you what to do with your treatment, you have to keep doing what your doctor says to get better. If you don’t follow the instructions of your doctor, you will risk losing all of your wage benefits too. The only exception to this is when the treatment is experimental or if the treatment carries with it significant risk and your refusal to get the treatment is deemed “justified.” You should only refuse treatment after you’ve consulted an attorney about whether that refusal would be justified.
5. Make a Good Impression:
If you are scheduled for an independent medical examination (IME), you are required by law to attend. Be clear and consistent at these appointments. Show respect to the physician and make sure they have the full and accurate picture of what happened. Go over the dates and specifics surrounding the accident. The time it takes will vary depending on the injury.
6. Talk To A Workers Comp Lawyer
If you feel like you are stuck or are drowning in paperwork and are confused by the hoops that the commission makes you jump through, you should get an opinion from an experienced attorney. It is never a bad idea to make sure you have dotted all your i’s and crossed all your t’s. Here at Osterbind Law, LLC, we help our clients work through the wrinkles of workers’ compensation claims and we may be able to help you.