What is Workers’ Compensation in Virginia?
Workers’ compensation is insurance that provides wage benefits, cash payments for permanent disability, and medical care for workers who are injured or become ill as a result of their job. It was the first form of health insurance coverage in the United States, preceding Blue Cross by roughly two decades.
This article explains the origins of workers’ compensation and provides an introduction to workers’ compensation law in Virginia.
Origins of Workers Compensation
The origins of workers compensation date back hundreds of years. In fact, 18th century pirates developed a workers compensation program for injured crew members.
Here is how it worked.
Many pirate ships were democracies, splitting captured bounties among the captain and crew evenly. But traveling on the seas and capturing bounties was difficult work and many pirates were injured in combat or while performing tasks on board.
To motivate each other to continue in such a dangerous profession, a workers compensation system developed amongst pirates. An injured pirate knew that he would receive payment if he was injured in battle. A pirate would receive a specific amount of gold depending on the type of injury. For example, losing the dominant right arm was worth more than losing the left arm.
Injured crew members could also remain on board the pirate ship and do less strenuous work based on their limitations. This was a predecessor to the modern vocational rehabilitation and return to work programs.
An Introduction to Virginia Workers’ Compensation
Virginia enacted a workers’ compensation statute in 1918.
Under the workers’ compensation law in Virginia, employers pay for insurance coverage. They cannot require an employee to contribute to the cost of workers’ compensation insurance coverage or payments.
Weekly cash benefits, permanent partial disability benefits, and medical care are paid by the employer’s insurance carrier, as directed by the Workers’ Compensation Commission. The Workers’ Compensation Commission is the state agency that processes claims. If Commission intervention is necessary to resolve a dispute, the Commission will determine whether the employer and insurer are responsible for the cash benefits and medical care sought and the amounts payable to or on behalf of the injured employee.
In a workers’ compensation case in Virginia, no party is determined to be at fault for the injury or illness. This is because Virginia has a “no fault” workers’ compensation system. The amount of benefits or the type of medical care that an injured employee receives is not decreased based on his or her carelessness or negligence, nor is it increased by the employer’s negligence or disregard for employee safety. An injured worker does, however, lose his or her right to workers’ compensation benefits if the injury results from his or her intoxication from alcohol or drugs, or from his or her willful misconduct or violation of a known safety rule.
A workers’ compensation claim is paid in Virginia if the employer or its insurance carrier agrees that the alleged injury or illness is work-related and provides an award agreement form. If the employer or insurance carrier disputes the claim for benefits, no cash benefits or medical care is owed until a workers compensation hearing is held and the deputy commissioner assigned to the case decides who is right. If the deputy commissioner rules in your favor, the employer and its insurance carrier are entitled to a credit for any voluntary payments they made to you or on your behalf.
If you can return to work but your injury prevents you from earning the same amount of money you once did, you may be entitled to temporary partial disability benefits that will make up two-thirds of the difference in wages. You may also receive permanent partial disability benefits if your injury leaves you with permanent impairment, regardless of whether you return to any type of employment.
Though it is a “no fault” system, workers compensation laws in Virginia are complicated and detailed. It can be difficult to navigate the system and get the medical care and indemnity benefits you deserve. The right workers compensation attorney, who knows how to negotiate with insurance companies, file detailed claims with the appropriate paperwork and supportive evidence, prove to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission that your injury is covered, and recover maximum benefits for you at a hearing before a judge, can make you and your family’s recovery much easier following a work injury.
Speak to a Workers Compensation Lawyer Today!
Contact workers compensation attorney Corey Pollard and our workers compensation law firm for a free, no obligation consultation. We’re ready to help you win and get fair compensation for injuries suffered in your work accident!