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When serious injuries occur on the job, you will have your hands full dealing with dozens of problems. You will need a lawyer to protect your claim and assure you get the compensation you deserve. The Ritchie Law Firm specializes in handling Virginia Workers’ Compensation claims and ensures that our clients receive their full entitlements under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act.
In Virginia, workers’ compensation is a program which functions to replace income lost by a worker who is injured on the job. It helps restore earning capacity and often helps return the worker to productive employment.
Under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act, you are entitled to benefits if your injury or occupational disease “arose out of and in the course of your employment” and your employer regularly employs 3 or more full or part-time employees. If you are a farm laborer, your employer must have more than 2 employees regularly in service.
To be covered, a workers’ compensation injury or death by accident must “arise” out of and in the course of your employment and must take place while you are performing work for your employer at the place where you were assigned to work. Generally, an accident occurs at a particular time and place and is not the result of cumulative activity.
An occupational disease usually develops over time. Medical evidence must show that the disease was caused by the duties of your employment and that it did not result from conditions or activities to which you were exposed outside your employment.
Any injury, occupational disease, or death which occurs “out of and in the course of employment” is covered by Virginia law. It does not matter who was at fault in the accident. Covered injuries included broken bones, muscle strains, back and neck problems, loss of strength and/or flexibility, heart problems, diseases related to your employment, and others.
If you are injured by an accident or contract an occupational disease, you must give written notice to your supervisor or someone in a supervisory position. In the notice, explain when and how the accident or occupational disease occurred. If your employer does not have actual notice of your injury (as might be the case where your supervisor approved your going to the hospital for x-rays), failure to give notice to your employer within 30 days from the date of your accident or 60 days from the date your occupational disease was diagnosed by a doctor may affect your right to benefits.
If your injury or illness is serious or if it affects your arms, legs, neck, or back, you should talk to a lawyer about your claim. People who handle their own claims often make innocent, but terrible mistakes. If you have any questions or doubts, seek the advice of an attorney experienced in workers’ compensation law.
The sooner you seek the advice of a lawyer, the better. Early investigation can make the difference between winning and losing a case. Advice from an experienced attorney can help you through the most difficult times ahead. At the Ritchie Law Firm, we handle most workers’ compensation claims on a contingency fee basis. This means we are paid a fee only if we win your claim and you collect.
It is not easy to handle a significant workers’ compensation claim on your own. If you handle your claim on your own, you will likely be dealing with an insurance adjuster who is more experienced at handling claims than you. The adjuster’s goal is to minimize the amount paid to you. If you have been receiving weekly benefits for a substantial amount of time, a cash settlement may be an appropriate option for you. However, there are serious issues to consider as to future benefits and future Social Security entitlement. An attorney specializing in workers’ compensation can help you address these issues.
As a first requirement, the lawyer you choose should be a specialist who primarily handles injury cases. A lawyer who routinely handles criminal cases, divorces, wills, and other legal matters may not have the depth of experience needed to maximize your recovery. You should seek a lawyer experienced in handling workers’ compensation and accident and injury law. Perhaps the easiest way to determine whether an attorney has the experience needed is to verify that he/she is certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy (Check out NBTA’s website at www.nbtanet.org) Board certified attorneys have to meet rigorous requirements involving trial experience, ethics and legal knowledge.
What are my obligations when injured on the job?
- You must notify your employer and statutory employer as soon as possible of a work-related accident or disease.
- Keep appointments with your doctor and follow treatment plans.
- Keep appointments for independent medical examinations.
- Cooperate fully with persons who are helping you find employment, such as your employer and/or a rehabilitation counselor. Cooperation does not mean you have to reveal personal financial information to a rehabilitation worker.
- Notify your employer and its insurance carrier if you return to employment or if you have an increase in earnings while you are receiving compensation benefits.
- Report your current residential address and report any address change to the Workers’ Compensation Commission.
- Attend scheduled hearings.
- Attend depositions and answer interrogatory questions when directed by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Workers’ Compensation Brochure
For additional information, please see our workers’ compensation brochure.
At the Ritchie Law Firm, we work hard to protect the rights of our clients.
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1-800-277-6124 or click here to tell us about your injuries.
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