Late Workers’ Compensation Checks in Virginia
The employer and its insurance company have a duty to pay you a workers’ compensation check each week when you have an award for temporary total disability benefits. Virginia workers’ compensation law provides that the check must be sent on time.
But many employers and insurance companies fail to pay injured workers on time. Some are weeks behind. Others simply stop sending checks, even though the parties signed an award agreement form and the Workers’ Compensation Commission entered an Award Order.
I get many calls from injured workers who have not received their wage loss check on time. Without this check, they are unable to make their car payment, house payment, or rent. Sometimes they are unable to pay utility bills.
This article explains what to do if your workers’ compensation check is late. If you have any questions about workers’ comp, or are looking for legal representation, contact attorney Corey Pollard today for a free strategy session. We’ve helped injured and disabled workers across Virginia navigate the workers’ comp claims process and negotiate fair workers’ compensation settlements. And we can help you.
Do You Have an Award Order?
Sometimes employers and insurance companies start making wage loss payments soon after a work injury. If you have not filed a workers’ comp claim and received an Award Order from the Workers’ Compensation Commission, these payments are voluntary. There is nothing you can do about a late workers’ comp check until you’ve received an Award Order. An Award Order gives you legal rights when a workers’ comp check is late.
Does the Insurance Company Have to Pay a Penalty if My Workers’ Comp Check is Late?
If your weekly workers’ compensation check is sent more than 14 days late, the insurance company must pay a 20% penalty. For example, if your weekly workers’ compensation check is $500, then the penalty for a late check is $100 (20% of $500).
Occasionally the insurance company will include the penalty in your weekly check amount if it knows that the check is late. But in my experience this is rare. Usually the insurance company will not pay a late penalty unless you request it or the Workers’ Compensation Commission orders it.
It’s important to remember that neither you nor your Virginia workers compensation lawyer can do anything about a late workers’ comp check until the check is more than 14 days late pursuant to an Award Order. You must be under an Award Order to hold the insurance company accountable and to receive a late check penalty.
What Should I Do if the Insurance Company Does Not Send My Workers’ Comp Check on Time?
There are a few things you should consider before requesting a penalty for a late workers’ compensation check in Virginia.
First, you should look at the dates on the last check you received. The check should state the period the insurance company paid you through with that check. That is what matters – not that you receive your check by a certain day of the week, but the date the insurance company last paid you through.
For example, maybe you receive your workers’ compensation check every Tuesday. But today is November 21st and you haven’t received a workers’ compensation check since November 7th. If the check from November 7th is dated November 5th and is paying you for the period of November 10th through November 17th, then your next check is not considered late until December 2nd. This means that the insurance company has until December 2nd to mail you a check before it is considered late and you can request a penalty.
If more than 14 days have passed since the last date you were paid through, then you or your attorney should contact the insurance company. If the insurance company has not mailed the check, you should request a late check penalty from the Workers’ Compensation Commission.
How Do I Know When the Insurance Company Mailed My Workers’ Compensation Check?
When seeking a penalty for a late workers’ compensation check, you should include supportive documentation. This documentation includes proof that the insurance company mailed your check late.
There are a few ways to determine when the insurance company mailed your workers’ compensation check:
1. The postmark on the envelope. Most envelopes contain a postmark. And the postmark contains a date. This is the date that your check was mailed. Save the envelope containing your workers’ compensation check in case the insurance company argues that it mailed your check on time and does not owe you a late penalty.
2. The date on the check. The insurance company could not have mailed your workers’ comp check before the date it was issued. If the date on the check is after the date it should have been mailed, then you have proof that the check was late.
As with most workers’ comp matters, documentation is important. Save everything and give your attorney a copy.
Does the Insurance Company Owe a Penalty if the Post Office Delivers My Workers’ Compensation Check Late?
Under Virginia law, the insurance company is required to mail your check by a certain date. The insurance company is not responsible for late checks due to post office delays or errors.
Does the Insurance Company Owe a Penalty if My Settlement Check is Late?
The Workers’ Compensation Commission considers an approved Settlement Order as a type of Award Order. It also gives any party up to 30 days to request the review of an Award Order. After 30 days, the Award Order goes final.
The insurance company, therefore, has 44 days to pay an award (30 day appeal period plus 14 days). If the insurance company does not pay the award or settlement within 44 days, then it owes a 20 percent penalty. This late check penalty is often substantial since many awards and settlements are for large sums of money.
What if the Insurance Company Refuses to Pay Late Check Penalties?
The Workers’ Compensation Commission can order the insurance company to pay assessed attorney’s fees and reasonable litigation costs if the insurance company refuses to pay you on time or to pay the late check penalties.
An Attorney to Guide You Through the Workers Comp Process
Workers’ compensation cases are often complicated and confusing. You may have many questions as you try to navigate the system.
Contact Corey Pollard today for a free strategy session. We’re here to answer your questions and to help you get all the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve.