You have been injured in a workplace incident, leaving you with injuries and losses in the form of lost wages, expenses associated with past and future medical treatment for your injuries from the incident, and other damages. As is your right under Virginia law, you file a claim with your employer’s worker’s compensation carrier. Not long afterward, the carrier approaches you, offering to settle your claim for a one time fixed lump sum payment in exchange for you signing a settlement agreement waiving any right you have to future payments for the wages you would have earned if not for your injuries or the costs associated with the medical treatment for those same injuries. However, before you make this decision, you also need to consider what you can expect to receive under Virginia law if you elect to continue to receive worker’s compensation benefits in lieu of accepting the settlement offer from your employer’s worker’s compensation carrier. An important consideration in making this type of decision is the duration that you can expect worker’s compensation benefits to last. Although there is a presumption under Virginia law that the maximum period that benefits under the Virginia Worker’s Compensation Act will last is 500 weeks, there also are special provisions for those injured workers who are determined to be either totally permanently disabled or partially permanently disabled as a result of their workplace injuries. This is one reason it is so important to consult with an experienced Virginia worker’s compensation attorney prior to making a decision like whether to settle your worker’s compensation claim and waive your right to future benefits. At Kalfus & Nachman, our experienced attorneys will take you through what you can expect to receive in terms of benefits considering your unique situation, the injuries that you suffered, and how long your benefits would be expected to last.
What Is The Duration of Worker’s Compensation Benefits Under Virginia Law?
The answer is: it depends. For most worker’s compensation cases in Virginia, there is a presumption set forth in the Virginia Worker’s Compensation Act that benefits will cease after a maximum of 500 weeks. This is premised upon the assumption that a worker will eventually recover from his or her workplace injuries, will return to work and will resume the ability to earn wages at the same level as prior to his or her workplace injury. However, there are some cases in which the injuries that a worker may suffer from a workplace accident are permanent, either totally or partially, even if they do not keep a worker from working altogether in the future.
In such cases, Virginia law provides that a physician can deem an injured worker to be either totally permanently disabled or partially permanently disabled. An injured worker is considered totally permanently disabled when the injured worker’s injuries prevent him or her from working at all for the rest of his or her normal career. These are typically reserved for the most serious of injuries, such as the loss of both hands or feet, a workplace injury resulting in complete paralysis or a workplace injury that leaves the injured worker brain damaged so that he or she is unable to be gainfully employed in any job whatsoever. In such an instance, the injured worker would be entitled to worker’s compensation benefits for the duration of his or her life.
In the case that an injured worker has suffered permanent loss of a body part or otherwise cannot make a living at the same level as he or she could prior to his or her injury, the injured worker is entitled to be compensated for the gap between what he or she could have made absent the injury and whatever he or she can realistically expect to earn with that permanent injury. Therefore, if the worker lost use of a particular finger as a result of the workplace incident, then he or she is entitled to be compensated a specified amount for the loss of use of that finger. The same would be true for a leg or an eye or virtually any other body part. In such a case, a physician will assign what is called an “impairment rating” to assess to what degree the worker is permanently impaired in his or her ability to work in the future due to an injury. The injured worker will then receive an award based on that permanent impairment rating.
The exact amount of time that you will receive worker’s compensation benefits under Virginia law thus depends on the severity of your injury or injuries, how long it takes you to recover from those injuries, if you recover fully or can expect to recover fully, and if you are able to return to work. Thus, every situation is different and what you can expect to receive is an important consideration that must be taken into account when deciding whether to accept a settlement offer from your employer’s worker’s compensation carrier or not.
Protect Your Rights by Retaining an Experienced Virginia Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you have suffered a workplace injury in Virginia, then worker’s compensation coverage exists to compensate you for the damages that you suffer as a result of those injures. It may sound enticing if an insurance carrier makes an offer to you to settle your worker’s compensation claim, but you should always contact an experienced Virginia worker’s compensation attorney to determine what you can expect to receive if you have been injured on the job. If you have been injured in a workplace incident in Virginia, please contact Kalfus & Nachman today at (855) 880-8163 or through the form on this page to schedule a free consultation. Our experienced Virginia workers’ comp lawyers are here to help you.