From filing a claim to receiving your compensation, the workers’ compensation process in Virginia is complex. The Workers’ Compensation Act in Virginia focuses heavily on the interest of the employer and its insurance company. It is critical that you take every measure to give your case the best chance of success. Avoiding these six common mistakes that can ruin your workers’ comp case in Virginia will put you on the right path.
1. Not Telling Your Employer Right Away
You must tell your employer that you have been injured at work. If you don’t tell your employer, you can’t get workers’ comp. In Virginia, you have thirty (30) days to tell your employer after you’ve been hurt, but you want to tell your boss as soon as it happens. Telling your employer that you’ve been hurt is the first step in starting the workers’ compensation process. You can’t get any money from workers’ comp until you report it to your supervisor, and they get the process started. Waiting to tell your boss that you got injured at work only hurts you.
2. Not Seeking Medical Attention
The second step you should take when injured on the job is to go to the doctor and tell them exactly what happened. If you don’t seek medical attention immediately, your employer’s insurance will make assumptions that you were not truly hurt. As part of this process, you’ll have a physical exam and tell the doctor what has been injured. Your employer will give you at least three (3) physicians to choose from after you have told them of your injury. You will choose one doctor to be your treating physician. If your job does not give you doctors to choose from after you told them of your injury, you can choose your own doctor.
The doctor should give you some idea of what the course of your treatment will look like, such as the amount of time you maybe on a medicine or must rest a body part. If they don’t tell you, ask! It is your body and you deserve to know. The doctor may give an educated guess and need to adjust it later based on how they see you healing. You may have follow-up appointments with medical providers. Make sure you go to all of your appointments, including ones such as physical therapy sessions. Everyone wants you to get better and be able to go back to work if possible. Learn more about what to expect at your workers’ comp doctor’s appointment.
3. Not Documenting The Accident In Detail
It is critical that you document the on the job accident in detail. Your statement on what happened should be consistent when you tell your supervisor, your doctor, and in your workers’ comp claim paperwork. We encourage you to take steps to document the details of the accident as quickly as possible. Over time details will become less clear as your memory fades. In your notes, include who you told at the time of the accident and how they reacted, conversations that you had during and after the accident.
Additionally, keep important records of the injury and subsequent medical treatment. Keep copies of each medical record, bill, prescriptions, MRI scans, X-rays, CT scans, and other test reports in relation to your medical treatment. Keep record of all costs related to your injury, including all medical bills and lost wages.
4. Not Filing Workers’ Comp Claim Within Timeline
There are important timelines that you must adhere to in order to file a successful workers’ compensation claim in Virginia. As a general rule, an injured employee has 30 days from the date of an accident to give notice of the accident to the employer and file the claim. Telling a coworker of an accident does not satisfy this requirement. The injured worker must give notice to the worker’s supervisor within 30 days. Filing the workers’ comp claim entails submitting a completed form for the VA Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Don’t assume that your employer will submit a claim to the VA Workers’ Compensation Commission on your behalf. While they should submit a claim on your behalf within 24 hours of informing your supervisor, you don’t want to trust your claim with them. You need to stay on your employer and ensure that you have a proper VAWCC claim number that showcases that your claim has been submitted. You will also want to have this claim number for reference.
In addition to the 30-day deadline to notify your employer of the injury, there is a two-year deadline to file a claim with the Commission. Failure to file a claim with the Commission within the two-year timeframe can make your work-related injury ineligible for benefits. The date of filing is the date it is received at the Commission or the date it is mailed by certified mail. If you are near the two-year mark, please do not rely on postal mail to file your claim. The longer you wait to file your claim the more fragile your workers’ compensation case will be.
5. Lying Or Inconsistent Storytelling
You must tell the truth to everyone throughout the workers’ comp process. Tell your boss how you were hurt, tell the doctor what hurts, and tell all the details to HammondTownsend. Don’t lie, fudge the truth, exaggerate, or otherwise be untruthful during the process. You will be asked how you became sick or injured at work. You will also be asked details about the medical condition itself, such as how soon a broken bone is expected to heal, if you will need physical therapy for it, and if you’ll be able to regain full use of that body part once the break is fully healed and physical therapy is done. You may be asked questions about your health, prior injuries, what your job is, who lives with you (such as children or stepchildren) and other personal matters, but all of it must be answered truthfully. Your workers’ comp claim is a legal process and lying won’t help you get the care and compensation you deserve.
Additionally, your story of what transpired during and after the accident should be consistent. That means what you tell your supervisor, your doctor, and supply on your workers’ comp claim should all be telling the details of the same story.
Don’t withhold evidence from your lawyer. Your attorney is there to help you. Withholding evidence or lying to your attorney will only serve to negatively impact your claim.
Don’t submit anything about your workers’ comp claim on the internet or social media. If you post about your injury and the description differs at all from what you told your boss and the doctor, they can think you are lying about all of it. If you don’t post about your injury and continue to post as normal, they can think you are faking the injury as well, or aren’t as badly affected as you actually are. They may also try to claim you’re lying if they find you complaining about money, your job, or your boss. There is no good answer if the other side sees what you are posting online. Learn more about how social media can impact your case.
6. Trying To Do It Alone
Even a simple workers’ comp case usually takes well over a year, and more complex ones can take much longer. You don’t want to be stuck trying to understand the process and deal with the paperwork yourself. Call HammondTownsend at 888-580-9048 to speak with an intake specialist about your case and receive a free consultation with an attorney. Workers’ compensation is all that HammondTownsend does, so they know all of the ins and outs of the process and are dedicated to getting you the money you deserve. The attorneys, paralegals, and other staff at HammondTownsend have decades of experience in workers’ compensation and are dedicated to working for you, the client. They’ll help you figure out the right kind of workers’ comp benefits to claim, based on the specifics of your case, and work with you to have your medical care also covered. You’ll have a dedicated person to contact with your questions and the assurance of knowing that you have the weight of a statewide team of experts behind you.