Workers’ compensation provides critical financial support to workers who have been hurt on the job. Unlike personal injury claims, the victim is not required to prove fault; only that the accident was work-related. The objective of this system is two-fold: to shield employers from lawsuits, and to help victims pay their medical bills and replace their lost wages.
Despite the promise of workers’ compensation to protect hurt employees, many workers in Loudoun County, Virginia find their claims wrongfully denied by their employer or its insurer. That’s where having an aggressive attorney makes a difference. Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP represents injured workers who are being treated unfairly in the workers’ compensation system. If you’ve been hurt at work, turn to us.
What is workers’compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that most employers are required to carry for the benefit of employees who are hurt on the job. It’s a no-fault system, meaning the worker doesn’t have to prove negligence on the part of the employer in order to benefit. But the injury does have to be work-related.
A worker covered by workers’ compensation insurance cannot usually sue his or her employer for losses related to the injury. In return, the worker receives a variety of benefits provided he or she follows the necessary steps to file a claim. Those benefits include:
- Medical expenses. Your medical bills after an injury at work will be one of the most pressing financial concerns you’ll face. Workers’ compensation can cover the payment of these expenses, along with out-of-pocket costs related to your treatment such as prescription medication.
- Lifetime medical costs. Benefits also include future treatments related to your injury. These include problems related to occupational diseases which many workers develop through their employment in particularly dangerous industries.
- Wage loss payments. When you’re sick or injured, you can’t work. And you shouldn’t have to worry about how you’re going to make ends meet while you recover. A hurt worker can receive full or partial wage loss payments until they’re able to return to work.
- Disability. This includes compensation for loss of a body part, amputation, disfigurement/bodily scarring, loss of hearing, loss of vision, or lung disease. It also provides compensation for paralysis and loss of mobility due to the injury.
- Death benefits. If the injured worker dies, surviving children and spouses can receive compensation related to funeral/burial expenses and wage loss replacement.
What counts as a workers’ compensation claim?
To be eligible for workers’ compensation, an employee must have suffered a work-related injury. Generally, that means the accident:
- Happened on the job site or while performing a task related to work
- Was caused by a specific work activity
- Happened suddenly at a specific time
Injuries that happen outside of work are not covered, nor are those that develop gradually as through repetitive motion or stress trauma. But the development of an occupational disease may be covered.
How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Loudoun County, Virginia
Although an injured worker is eligible for workers’ compensation, there are important filing requirements and deadlines. Failure to observe these could permanently invalidate your claim. After you’ve been injured, you must take these steps:
- Notify your employer. You are required to inform your employer within 30 days of a work-related accident or diagnosis of an occupational disease. If you don’t, you might not receive any benefits.
- Seek immediate medical attention. If your employer provided you with a list of approved doctors, you must see one of them for your medical treatment. You can jeopardize your compensation if you don’t select one of these physicians.
- Notify the treating physician that the accident was work-related. Be sure to inform your doctor that the accident happened at work or otherwise in the course of your employment. You will want this information documented in your medical records.
- File your workers’ compensation claim. You have two years from the date of your injury or diagnosis of an occupational disease to file a workers’ compensation claim. However, the sooner you file, the sooner you can receive benefits.
- Talk to an attorney. It’s a good idea to speak with a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney, especially if your claim is delayed or rejected. Having an attorney doesn’t necessarily mean you intend to sue your employer, but it could help protect your rights.
How can a Loudoun County workers’ compensation attorney help me?
In the event your employer denies your request for benefits, an attorney can help you appeal to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. Even if your claim is valid and you complete all required steps in the time you are required, an employer or its workers’ compensation insurer might reject your claim. This is done in the hopes that the injured worker won’t fight back, and so the company’s insurance premiums are kept down.
There’s also a chance the employer could dispute your claim and request a hearing before the Commission. Hearings are similar to trials, and evidence and testimony related to the injury may be given. Your employer could try to deny that the injury was work-related, or dispute the severity of your injuries and the amount of your benefits. Either way, you need a Loudoun County, Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer who knows what to expect and how to conduct the hearing.
You may wish to hire an attorney even earlier, especially if you’ve never handled a workers’ compensation claim before. There are a number of forms you may need to fill out, and there are deadlines to do so. We can assist you with the paperwork and make sure it’s completed in a timely manner.
Contact Our Loudoun County, Virginia Workers’ Compensation Attorney
After a workplace injury, your first priority should be getting better. Let our firm handle your workers’ compensation claim and fight for the benefits you deserve. Reach out to Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP today to get started.