Can I Get Pain and Suffering for My Workers’ Comp Claim?
What is Pain and Suffering in Workers’ Comp?
After getting hurt on the job, you may experience weeks, months, and even years of pain. So, it’s only natural that you would want to know if you can get pain and suffering for workers’ comp claims.
You may experience PAIN not only from your injury, but perhaps also from your medical treatment and 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.
Can You Get Pain and Suffering in Virginia Workers’ Comp?
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, “not usually.”
The No Negligence: No Pain and Suffering Trade-off
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’ compensation benefits in Virginia.
So, unfortunately, with Virginia workers’ compensation, you can’t typically receive compensation for “pain and suffering.” No matter how much pain your injury caused, how much you may have in lost wages, or how negligent your employer was in causing your workplace injury, you can’t claim pain and suffering under Virginia 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 (payment of medical bills) and payment of lost wage compensation. Pain and suffering are excluded from this equation.
Exceptions to the No Pain and Suffering Rule
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.”
An additional opportunity for a workers’ compensation claim 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.
Don’t Get Hurt Twice!
If you’ve been injured on the job, it’s important that you know the pitfalls of the Virginia workers’ compensation process. Do you know what you need to do to make sure the insurance company doesn’t take advantage of you? Do you know what to do if your injury requires surgery or takes longer than expected to heal?
Talking with a lawyer after an injury on the job is always a good idea. A lawyer who has experience handling Virginia workers’ compensation cases can help you navigate this complex area.
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.
When your health and family are on the line, the Ritchie Law Firm goes into BATTLE for you! Don’t get hurt twice by letting the insurance company build its case against you. Call us TODAY!
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