Can I Get Pain and Suffering for My Workers’ Comp Claim

If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, you may experience weeks, months, and even years of pain. You will likely experience pain not only from your injury, but perhaps also from your medical treatment as well as any permanent disfigurement or scarring you might have.

And, as with any injury or traumatic event, you are also likely to experience “suffering” after your work injury.  Generally, suffering refers to any inconvenience, frustration, and decreased enjoyment of life caused by an accident.  In Virginia, pain and suffering can be recovered in personal injury cases.

Because injured employees have heard of the concept of pain and suffering in personal injury cases, they will often ask our attorneys, “Can I get pain and suffering for my workers’ comp claim?”  In Virginia, the answer to that question is, unfortunately, no.


When the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act was passed, there was a trade-off established in the system, which actually benefits both workers and employers.  Under the current system in Virginia, an injured worker does not have to prove that the employer was negligent at all to get workers’ comp.  Also, Virginia’s system may not penalize workers’ who may have been negligent, except in the case of a violation of a safety rule.  These aspects make it easier to get workers’ comp in Virginia.

Unfortunately the answer is no. Under Virginia workers compensation you cannot receive compensation for “pain and suffering.” No matter how much pain your injury caused or how negligent your employer was in causing your workplace injury, you cannot claim pain and suffering under workers’ comp.

The benefit to employers in the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system is that the type of benefits and payments they are responsible for are limited to coverage of medical treatment and payment of lost wage compensation. Pain and suffering are excluded from this equation.


The exceptions to this are the very rare instances when the employer has caused or contributed to cause your accident by being reckless or grossly negligent.  Additionally, injured workers may be able to recover pain and suffering if their injury was caused by a third party who is not connected with the employer. An example of this would be a manufacturing defect in the equipment at work or a car accident while you are on the clock. In these cases, you may be able to claim pain and suffering in the third-party lawsuit.

In some cases, if your job injury causes you to develop depression, anxiety, or PTSD, you may be able to get workers’ compensation for these conditions and believe that you are getting compensated for “suffering.” However, in those situations, the injured employee is actually receiving compensation for a condition that has occurred as a result of the primary injury.  In Virginia, this is called a “compensable consequence.”

Permanent Injury

An additional opportunity for compensation in Virginia is in the instance of a permanent injury.  If you have a permanent injury, you may qualify to get an additional payment from the employer for this injury.

The Virginia Workers’ Compensation team at the Ritchie Law Firm has helped thousands of injured workers’ figure out the workers’ comp system.  We have helped injured employees get the medical treatment they need and recover compensation for their lost time from work.  Because workers’ comp in Virginia can be very complex, it is very important that you make correct decisions for your claim from the beginning.

At the very least, you should consult with an attorney experienced in workers’ compensation to make sure you are on the right track.  An attorney who doesn’t handle workers’ comp on a regular basis will not have the expertise needed to navigate the complexities of the Virginia Workers’ Comp system, and you will jeopardize your claim.

It costs nothing to talk with us about your claim and contacting us could mean the difference between winning and losing your case.  Contact us today at 800-277-6124 or download our Workers’ Compensation book by filling out the form below: