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How to protect your right to workers compensation benefits

On Behalf of | Aug 27, 2020 | Workers' Compensation Blog Post |

If you work in Virginia and experience a compensable work-related injury or illness you may be entitled to workers compensation benefits under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act.  These benefits can assist with medical expenses and wage loss.  However, an injured worker is not automatically granted benefits.

If you have been hurt at work or sustained a work-related injury there are two things that you must do in order to notify the Commonwealth of Virginia that you believe you are entitled to workers compensation benefits.

First: Report the event to your employer

Within 30 days of experiencing any injury or learning about a work-related illness, an employee must inform their employer about the situation. This should prompt the employer to file a first report of injury with their workers compensation carrier who will then notify the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission of the injury. Filing a claim without making a report to an employer may prevent the claim from being approved.

It should be noted that employers do not always notify anyone that one of their employees has been injured or become ill as a result of their work.  If it has been 30 days or more since you told your employer about a work-related injury or illness you should call the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission to verify whether the injury or illness has been reported to them.  You may also want to contact an attorney for assistance as this is the first sign that a claim may be handled poorly.

Second: File a claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission

After notifying their employer of the injury or illness an employee should receive correspondence from the Workers’ Compensation Commission describing their rights and providing a Claim for Benefits form.  An employee must file a Claim for Benefits directly with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission to protect their rights to workers compensation benefits. A Claim for Benefits must be filed within 2 years from either the date of injury or the date which the work-related illness was diagnosed.  If a Claim is not filed within that time period the injured worker loses their right to workers’ compensation benefits.

The Claim for Benefits form is divided into two parts.  Part A asks for contact information for both the injured worker and the employer as well as a basic description of the injury/accident.  Part B asks the injured worker to select the benefits they think they are entitled to.  If you have been injured or become ill as a result of your job and are unsure of what benefits you are entitled to an attorney will be able to help you determine this.  After submitting a Claim for Benefits to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission the injured worker will receive notification from the Commission that a 30-day order has been sent to the workers compensation insurance carrier asking them to declare whether they are accepting or denying the claim that has been filed.  Their response will determine how a claim proceeds: whether the injured worker automatically receives benefits or whether a hearing a necessary.

Note:  This information is meant to provide an overview of what an employee who has sustained a work-related injury or illness, while working in the Commonwealth of Virginia, should do to protect their rights.  This information is not intended to provide legal advice. Please contact a workers’ compensation attorney for legal guidance.