Workers’ Compensation Payment Requires An Award Order From The WCC
A workers’ compensation claimant’s receipt of an award typically results in two different benefits. One benefit is medical treatment for the injuries the claimant received in the work accident. The other benefit is compensation for as long as the claimant is totally or partially disabled due to the accident.
The sections of Virginia’s Workers’ Compensation Act that address the payment of compensation for total or partial disability respectively state that an employer will pay “a weekly compensation.” Thus, weekly payments are the usual way compensation is paid. The Act does allow either the claimant or the employer to request approval for the payment of compensation “bi-weekly, monthly, or quarterly.”
What Qualifies As A Late Workers’ Compensation Payment?
The timely payment of compensation is obviously a core aspect of the workers’ compensation system. The employer must mail the payment directly to the claimant at the claimant’s current residential address (as shown in the Workers’ Compensation Commission’s file) within two weeks after the payment is due. A payment received after 14 days from last compensation covered payment date is defined as late. Be sure to check the dates in which your checks are covering. Tardy payment is not defined by falling 2 weeks behind a certain day of the week or date of the month, or even 2 weeks after the last payment. Two weeks tardy is defined as two weeks past the last date covered in payment. For example, if your last workers’ comp check was received on December 4th and notes that it is paying for the period of December 2nd thru the 8th then the next payment is not late until after two weeks from December 8th or December 21st. Your employer has 14 days from the last payment covered to make additional workers’ comp payments. The law frowns on an employer that fails in this essential task.
What Is The Penalty For A Late Workers’ Compensation Payment?
Absent timely mailing as described above, an employer is liable for a penalty equal to 20 percent of the amount due. To receive payment, the claimant must file a motion with the Commission seeking the penalty. The employer can avoid liability for the penalty if the employer persuades the Commission that the employer “made [the payment] as promptly as practicable and . . . there is good cause outside the control of the employer for the delay.”
It’s appropriate to note here that, although the Act speaks of the duty of the “employer” to pay compensation, in most cases a claimant receives payment from a third-party administrator (“TPA”). It’s common to see a TPA in a case whether the employer is self-insured or has bought insurance from a workers’ compensation insurer. Either the employer or the insurer typically hires a TPA to “push paper” arising from a workers’ compensation claim. Thus, when a compensation payment is late (or several payments are late), the TPA is usually the entity that is at fault.
If you represent yourself, have an award of compensation, and are having problems with untimely payments, HammondTownsend may be able to help you. If HammondTownsend takes your case, the firm will work hard to help you gain the benefits you deserve in a timely way. Contact us for a free consultation.