A workplace accident can result in your being unable to return to work for weeks, months, or even permanently. While most employers are required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance, this does not always mean the insurance company will pay your rightful claim.
Once you file an accident report with your employer, they are required to file a report with the Commonwealth of Virginia as well as the insurance company. This report is known as a First Report of Injury (“FROI”). The FROI will prompt the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission to send you a Claim for Benefits form advising you that you have two years in which to file your claim. If you fail to file a claim, then you will be forever barred from bringing a claim. There are a few exceptions to this rule but you should never rely on an exception to this rule. It is always better to file early than file late.
What are the types of benefits you are entitled to?
Most people injured on the job have never been through this process before. And you simply need to know what types of benefits you are entitled to.
- Temporary Total Disability Benefits – 2/3 of your average weekly wage while you are totally unable to work for up to 500 weeks.
- Temporary Partial Disability Benefits – 2/3 of the difference between your average weekly wage and what you are able to make after your injury for up to 500 weeks.
- Permanent Partial Disability Benefits – 2/3 of your average weekly wage for a period of time-based on a rating on a body part that is permanently injured.
- Permanent Total Disability Benefits – 2/3 of your average weekly wage for life if you’ve suffered a debilitating brain injury, lose two body parts in the same accident, or suffer paralysis.
- Lifetime Medical Award – medical benefits for the rest of your life causally related to your accident.
- Cost of Living Increases – percentage increase in benefit based on a number of factors.
- Death Benefit – 2/3 of your average weekly wage for dependents of the worker.
You can read more about these different types of benefits here.
What if my workers’ compensation claim is denied?
Insurance companies often deny claims; this is simply because they benefit from collecting premiums while paying as little as possible in claims. In other words, it is good for the bottom line. However, you have the right to medical care, to receive a portion of your income during your recovery, and the right to rehabilitation services if you are unable to perform the same work that resulted in your injury. Sometimes, the only way to get those benefits is to fight for them.
That means that you have to go to the Workers’ Compensation Commission to get an order for your employer to give you the benefits you need. Going to court means a lot of different things. First, it means you have to have all of your ducks in a row before you get there. You will likely have to answer written questions before your court date. You may even have to answer questions in a deposition before your court date. Sometimes, your employer will want you to see their doctor for an “independent medical evaluation” before you go to court.
All of these things are a part of the litigation process. If you find yourself in the middle of a battle for your work-related injury, it is not a bad idea to consult an attorney who practices this type of law regularly. At a minimum, you should do some research online and in-person with a workers’ compensation attorney. Learn about what type of benefits you may be entitled to.
Hiring an attorney for your claim
You need an attorney who is not afraid to stand up against the insurance companies and hold them responsible for paying your rightful claim. Whether you have filed a claim and been denied, you have been offered a settlement that seems too low, or you need help filing an additional claim, an attorney can work with you throughout the process. Your lawyer should educate you about the process, teach you about the laws, and show you how your case fits into those various rules.
If you need an attorney to do that for you, Osterbind Law is ready and willing to help. We offer free strategy sessions for all potential workers’ compensation cases so that you will know how to go forward, even if we cannot help you. Contact us today to set up your free strategy session.