What is Workers’ Compensation?
Accidents happen. However, when a serious injury occurs while at work, the sudden loss of income can be a devastating result. Workers’ Compensation is a form of insurance provided to employees in case of work-related injuries instated across the nation according to various state laws.
The state of Virginia has the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act, which requires most employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Virginia employers are required to have insurance coverage if they regularly employ more than two part-time or full-time employees, including subcontractors. Even if your employer does not have insurance, you might be able to receive workers’ compensation if your employer meets these requirements.
The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act covers employees when:
- The accident occurred at work or during a work-related function
- The accident was caused by a specific work activity
- The accident happened suddenly at a certain time
Who is Liable for My Work-Related Injury?
While many injured workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, they are almost never enough to fully cover lost wages, medical bills and other related expenses. In most cases, Virginia does not allow employees to file a civil action for personal injuries against employers or co-workers, even if gross negligence is involved. An exception to this rule is if the employer does not have the obligatory workers’ compensation insurance. In this case, an employee can pursue workers’ comp benefits through the Uninsured Employers’ Fund (UEF) or file a civil action for damages against the employer.
Virginia law does allow an injured worker to file a workers’ compensation claim against his or her employer while simultaneously pursuing a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent or reckless third-party. For example, if you are a construction worker who was injured by a driver who struck you with a forklift, you may have a third-party claim against the site owner, the forklift driver and the forklift driver’s employer.
If you pursue a third-party in addition to a workers’ compensation claim, you have a better chance of retaining just compensation for an injury that was not your fault.
If third-party negligence caused your injury, you must prove:
- An accident occurred
- The other party owed you a duty of care
- The other party violated that duty of care
- You suffered actual injuries
- The accident caused your injuries
Filing a personal injury lawsuit for a third-party claim has its advantages over a workers’ compensation claim. The injured worker may retain greater financial restitution, as the victim can receive compensation for pain and suffering, loss of earning capacity, future wage loss and punitive damages.
Brain Injury in the Workplace
Injuries can happen in almost any workplace environment.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) usually results from a violent blow to the head. TBIs can also occur when an object penetrates the brain tissue. While mild TBIs can affect brain cells temporarily, serious TBIs can result in bruising, torn tissues, bleeding and physical damage leading to long-term disability or death.
Signs and symptoms of a TBI may include:
- Loss of consciousness from several minutes to hours
- Persistent headache or headache that worsens
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Convulsions or seizures
- Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
- Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
- Inability to awaken from sleep
- Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
- Loss of coordination
- Profound confusion
- Agitation, combativeness or other unusual behavior
- Slurred speech
- Coma and other disorders of consciousness
If you have experienced a blow to the head, seek medical treatment immediately, especially if you have exhibited any of the symptoms described above. Remember to always exercise precaution at work. If you work with heavy or dangerous machinery—always wear a helmet.
Injured on the Job in Virginia
If you were injured on the job in Virginia, you should:
- Seek medical attention
- Immediately report your injury to your employer
- File a claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission no later than two years after the accident. If you fail to file in this time frame, you could lose your right to compensation.
- Report all accidents, even if the injury seems minor as a small injury can later develop into a serious issue
- Contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to discuss a potential lawsuit
Workers’ Compensation Denial
Unfortunately, employers and their insurance companies may try to delay workers’ compensation claims or refuse to pay employees altogether.
Your claim could be denied for a variety of reasons. However, you may appeal if you believe the denial was unjust.
Common reasons for workers’ compensation denial include:
- Failure to notify your employer of the injury within the required time
- Failing a drug test or having alcohol in your system
- Not seeking medical treatment or waiting to see a doctor
- Filing a claim after termination or disciplinary warnings
- Missing a deadline to file a claim
- Pre-existing conditions or past work injury
- Lack of witnesses to the accident
- Non-work-related injury
- Refusing medical treatment
If your workers’ comp claim was denied for any of the above reasons, an experienced attorney can help you file an appeal, if applicable.
Speak to a Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Virginia
The attorneys at the Brain Injury Law Center have the experience and knowledge to ensure your claim is handled promptly and efficiently. We aren’t just lawyers – we are advocates for individuals and families whose lives have been hurt by the carelessness of others. We understand the financial and emotional burden that serious injury imposes, and we know how to help. Our legal team has secured large settlements for accident victims and families who need it most.
If you or a loved one were injured or passed away from a work-related injury, please contact us today at (757)-344-7000 for a free, no-obligation consultation and take your first step on the road to recovery. We will handle your legal needs so you can focus on what’s most important: your healing.