There are many nuances to filing a workers’ compensation claim in Virginia. In this blog we will unpack some of the basics to filing a workers’ comp claim in VA and address mis-steps to avoid.
What Qualifies For A Workers’ Compensation Claim in Virginia
In order to file a workers’ compensation claim, you must be able to demonstrate that you have been injured on the job. An employee may have a viable workers’ compensation claim if the employee suffers an injury by accident at work.
Under Virginia law, an “injury by accident” exists when there is (i) an identifiable incident or sudden precipitating event, (ii) an obvious sudden mechanical or structural change in the body, and (iii) a causal connection between the incident or event and the bodily change. Not sure if your workplace injury qualifies? Call HammondTownsend (888) 580-9048 for a free case evaluation.
How Long Do You Have To Notify Your Employer If You Are Injured At Work?
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. 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.
Who Files The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Claim?
It is generally the injured worker’s responsibility to file a workers’ compensation claim to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission (“the Commission”). The worker should send a copy of the claim to the employer. Virginia law allows an employer to file a claim on behalf of an injured employee. Although this provision may seem counterintuitive, there is a good reason for it.
An injured worker may believe the worker has the right to sue the employer for large monetary damages in civil court. If the employer believes the Workers’ Compensation Act (with its relatively modest benefits) covers the injury, the employer will file a claim with the Commission with the goal of having the Commission decide the issue before the typically slower civil court proceeding is resolved. The Commission’s decision is binding on the civil court.
You must file a claim for your workers’ compensation benefits with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission within two years of your accident. This is required even if you are being paid lost wage benefits and your medical treatment is being paid. Many injured workers have lost their benefits because they failed to do so.
What Documents Constitute A Proper Claim to The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission?
The best form of the claim is either (i) a claim on the form the Commission provides or (ii) a claim drafted by a lawyer representing the claimant. Still, other documents a claimant files with the Commission may suffice as a claim, depending on the information in the documents.
Injured workers can file your claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission online, via fax, through the mail, or in person. A claimant may file a claim (i) online after using the Commission’s website to register for “WebFile,” (ii) in person at several locations around the Commonwealth, (iii) by postal mail, or (iv) by fax. If the two-year deadline is close (i.e., within a few weeks), it is a very bad idea to rely on postal mail for the filing of a claim.
Regardless of form, a claim should put the employer on notice that an accident occurred on a specific date and at a specific location, the accident caused an injury or injuries to the claimant, and the claimant seeks benefits due to the injuries the claimant suffered in the accident.
What Are The Time Limits On Filing A Workers’ Compensation Claim in Virginia?
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.
What Happens After You File A Claim With The VA Workers’ Compensation Commission?
Once the Commission is notified of a claim for an injury by accident, the Commission will assign a Jurisdiction Claim Number (“JCN”) to the claim.
The JCN for a claim is inextricably tied to the date of injury (“DOI”) for the claim. The Commission’s operations are dependent on these two items of information. Thus, it’s very important for a claimant to identify with precision the date of the claimant’s accident.
Filing A Workers’ Compensation Claim in VA Wrap-Up
Some might read the provisions above and say, “How to file a claim is clear as mud.” If you’re one of those people, don’t despair. HammondTownsend is here to help you. We will work hard for you to gain the benefits you deserve for a compensable claim. Please give us a call at HammondTownsend (888) 580-9048 for a free consultation.