On-the-job injuries are extremely common throughout the United States, and Fairfax in Fairfax County, Virginia, is no exception. Some industries, such as construction work, are particularly dangerous. If you are injured on the job, the Virginia workers’ compensation system offers certain advantages not offered by the ordinary personal injury compensation system.
The main advantage of seeking compensation from your employer under workers’ compensation is that you do not have to prove that your employer was at fault to qualify for compensation. The workers’ compensation claim bureaucracy, however, is very different from the ordinary personal injury compensation system, and you are likely to need a trusted Fairfax workers compensation lawyer to help you navigate its Byzantine corridors for optimal results.
Workers’ compensation is designed to provide injured workers with monetary benefits and medical treatment for job-related injuries rather than the injured worker filing a lawsuit against the employer.
The benefits of workers’ compensation include the following:
However, these benefits are limited. If you are injured on the job, you cannot receive additional damages such as pain and suffering that you would under civil litigation. It is important that you discuss your situation with a highly knowledgeable Fairfax workers’ compensation lawyer at our law firm.
Workers injured on the job may receive assistance under any of the five types of workers’ compensation benefits:
Virginia state law requires that injured workers notify their employers in writing immediately or as soon as practicable after the injury. Such notice should include the:
This notice must be filed with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. The statute of limitations for filing workers’ comp claims in Virginia is two years, making it important to file your claim promptly.
Workers’ compensation claims can be denied for a variety of reasons. Two of the most common are:
Even if a claim is filed on time, in the proper jurisdiction and with all required documentation, the employer or its insurance company may still dispute it by arguing that a worker’s injury or illness if it:
“Winning” your claim is one thing. Getting what you deserve is another. The workers’ compensation bureaucracy reacts in much the same way as a private insurance company does when faced with a claim: it will try to deny or minimize it. Even if you win, you may end up with a lot less than you need. This is especially likely if you are permanently injured and unable to return to your previous job duties.
Never fear. At Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP, we’ve been doing this for decades and we know the system inside out. Put more specifically, our proven Fairfax workers compensation attorneys know how to calculate the true value of your claim and how to negotiate with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission to make sure that you don’t end up with even a dime less than you are entitled to.
No, unfortunately, it won’t – but that might not be the end of the story. You might be able to make an end run around the workers’ compensation system and file an ordinary personal injury lawsuit if, for example:
In some cases, an injured worker is eligible for a lump sum settlement. As tempting as that may sound, you should never accept such an offer without carefully considering it and without consulting with a lawyer first. Once you accept a lump sum settlement, you will never be eligible to claim additional wage loss or medical benefits for your injury. Lump sum settlements are particularly dangerous for people who suffer injuries that might require expensive long-term medical care.
It is important to fully evaluate the long-term cost of your injury, both in terms of how much it would cost you if you had no outside income or medical insurance to cover you in the future, and in how much it would cost the workers’ compensation insurance company over your lifetime if you refused to settle. Further, although the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly known as, “Obamacare”) requires health insurance companies to cover “pre-existing conditions” most health insurance plans specifically exclude coverage for “work-related injuries” and may not cover your medical treatment in the future, even after settlement of your workers’ compensation case.
Maybe you do. You might also have a products liability claim against the equipment manufacturer. This could render you eligible for much higher compensation than workers’ compensation would allow if you were seriously injured.
Normally, independent contractors are responsible for purchasing their own workers’ compensation insurance. It may be possible, however, to claim against your client for premises liability (you would have to prove negligence) or to get yourself classified as an employee rather than an independent contractor (a court makes this decision) so that you can claim under your client’s workers’ compensation insurance.
When you become aware that you have an injury claim, it is important to act quickly. Yes, it is true that the statute of limitations in most cases allows you to file a lawsuit within two years of your injury (sometimes longer). Nevertheless, there are many benefits to filing your claim as soon as you have gathered enough evidence to support it.
If you have suffered an on-the-job injury in Fairfax County, Virginia, call us at (703) 498-2928 or simply contact us online for a free initial consultation with our highly skilled Fairfax workers compensation attorneys. We serve clients from Mantua, Kent Gardens, Greenbriar, and Mosby Woods, to name a few local neighborhoods where many of our former clients reside. And remember: if you don’t win your case, your total legal fees from us will be zero.
“You have taught me so much about patience and the law. My wife and I both believe you have done an excellent job watching out for our best interests. It’s because of your hard work that we have had about the best year since the start of this whole mess.” – Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP client.