So you’ve received a response on your claim for benefits you filed with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. The insurance company has accepted your claim. What a relief! Now you can focus on your health and recovery.

Unfortunately an accepted Virginia workers compensation claim is just the beginning. Think of it like purchasing a home. When your offer is accepted on a house, you still have to pay the mortgage and taxes and make repairs. For many injured employees, an accepted claim means the Virginia workers’ compensation process is just starting.

An approved Virginia workers compensation claim may be followed by independent medical examinations (IMEs), vocational rehabilitation, the employer trying to force you to return to work, a light duty job, change in condition applications, employer applications to suspend benefits, hearings, appeals, and lump sum worker comp settlement. Work injury claims are rarely resolved easily.

You can help yourself by talking to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney right away. This gives you the best chance of protecting your rights and making sure you receive all the workers’ compensation benefits you are owed. An experienced Virginia workers compensation lawyer can also help you build your case for a top-dollar workers’ compensation settlement.

We can explain your rights and options to you. And make sure you are prepared for each stage of the work comp process. Hundreds of injured employees have turned to us for help, and we’re proud of the results we have obtained for them. Fill out the form on the right side of the screen or call us at 804-251-1620 or 757-810-5614 for a free review of your case.

Procedure in An Approved Claim

Many workers’ comp claims are resolved without litigation or a hearing. If the employer, its insurance company, and the injured employee agree on the facts of the claim and that such an accident is covered by law, the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission  offers an easy way to memorialize an agreement – through forms.

The Commission will enter an Award Order when the parties execute and file an award agreement form. The entry of an award signifies that the employer accepts that the employee suffered an injury by accident arising out of and in the course of the employment. It also establishes the body parts accepted under the award, the average weekly wage, the weekly compensation rate, the periods of wage loss benefits that will be paid, and that the employer must pay for all reasonable, necessary, and authorized medical treatment related to the injury for the rest of the employee’s life.

How to Complete the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Award Agreement

In 2008 the Commission renamed the form used to signify agreements between the parties. Instead of an agreement to pay benefits, parties now sign and file an Award Agreement. In cases involving fatal injuries, the parties file a Fatal Award Agreement. These forms may be downloaded and completed on WebFile, which is the Commission’s online portal.

Any party in interest can complete the agreement form – the injured employee, employer, insurance company, third party administrator, or either party’s attorney. The form must contain the following information:

  • Name, address, and telephone number of the employer;
  • Name, address, and telephone number of the employee;
  • Name, address, and telephone number of the employer’s representative (this can be an attorney or claims administrator);
  • Name, address, and telephone number of the employee’s attorney (if applicable);
  • The pre-injury average weekly wage;
  • The date of the accident;
  • The body parts, injuries, or occupational disease being accepted;
  • Whether this is an initial or supplemental award;
  • The beginning date of the weekly payments;
  • The end date of the weekly payments (if applicable); and,
  • Whether a lump sum payment with a 4% discount is being made in the case of permanent partial disability benefits.

Things to Consider Before Signing and Filing an Agreement Form with the Commission

Though you are gaining some rights when you sign an agreement form, you may be giving up others by doing so. Make sure that the information on the award agreement is complete and accurate.

The two areas of concern are: (1) the pre-injury average weekly wage and (2) the body parts, injuries, and occupational disease accepted. Insurance companies want a lower pre-injury average weekly wage and fewer body parts accepted to decrease the value of your claim. Consult with an attorney to make sure that the forms are complete and contain accurate descriptions of the body parts injured and the best wage number for you.

Questions about Undisputed and Accepted Virginia Workers’ Compensation Claims

Below are common questions we get from injured employees thinking about entering into an award agreement with the employer and its workers’ compensation insurance company.

Is it good enough that the claims adjuster said my workers’ comp claim was accepted on the phone?

No, an oral agreement that your claim is approved is not good enough under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act. Anything you agree to must be in writing and signed by the parties for the Commission to consider approving it.

What if I didn’t miss any time from work after my injury?

If you don’t miss any time from work after your compensable injury, or if you miss less than seven days of work, the Commission will still enter an Agreement Form. You will have a Medical Only Award.

Do I have to go to a hearing if the parties sign an agreement form?

If the parties sign and file an agreement form, and the Commission approves the agreement and enters an Award Order, then you will likely not need a hearing on that claim. There are some circumstances where you will though. For example, the parties may agree on everything but the body parts injured. In that case you would go to hearing on the disputed body parts.

The entry of an Award Order does not close your case. In some cases an injured employee will receive five or more Award Orders. This is because multiple claims can be filed within one Virginia workers’ compensation case.

Can I withdraw my consent to a Virginia workers’ comp award order?

Either party can withdraw consent to approval of an agreement, even after the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission has entered an Award Order. There is, however, a caveat.

The party wishing to withdraw its consent must make a proper request for review within thirty days of the date the award was issued. See Sovran Financial Corp. v. Nanney, 12 Va. App. 1156, 408 S.E.2d 266 (1991). Failure to request review within the 30-day period will lead to denial of the request to vacate the award absent fraud or mistake. In other words, you’re out of luck in most cases if you fail to request review or move to vacate the award within 30 days after it was entered..

Is there a difference between the Award Order that the Commission enters after it receives an agreement form and the decision made by a deputy commissioner after a hearing?

No. There is no difference between an accepted Virginia workers’ compensation claim based on an agreement form and an approved Virginia workers’ compensation claim based on a deputy commissioner’s decision after a hearing. The Award Order has the same binding effect on the parties as a written decision from a deputy commissioner or the full Commission.

Additional Issues in Accepted Virginia Workers’ Compensation Claims

Read the articles below for more information on the issues you may face if your Virginia workers’ compensation claim is approved.

Virginia workers’ compensation is difficult to understand and navigate. An innocent mistake can cost you thousands of dollars in benefits, or more. Hiring an experienced workers compensation attorney puts you in the best situation possible to recover all the benefits and monetary damages you are owed.