One of the first questions our experienced Virginia worker’s compensation attorneys often receive is when our clients can return to work and, once they do return to work, if they can expect to continue to maintain the same income and standard of living as prior to a workplace incident. However, many times things are not quite this simple. You may be out of work for weeks or even months as a result of your injuries from a workplace injury, which results in you having no income whatsoever for that period. Often, even when you are fully healed, a workplace injury may leave you unable to use certain of the skills that you spent decades acquiring, so your only options when you eventually return to the workplace may be to accept work that pays less than what you made before you were injured.
For these reasons, obtaining worker’s compensation is often a scenario in which an individual very well may end up not receiving the same level of income prior to a workplace accident through the worker’s compensation proceeding because there are certain guideposts set up to protect both sides of the worker’s compensation proceeding that can end up costing the worker. Nevertheless, in the great majority of cases, the lion’s share of any lost income suffered as a result of a workplace injury is replaced by worker’s compensation benefits, which are not taxable at either the state or federal level. Accordingly, most injured workers end up making out just fine even if they are injured on the job due to the protections of the Virginia Worker’s Compensation Act.
How Am I Compensated for the Income I Lost As a Result of My Workplace Injury?
Under the Virginia Worker’s Compensation Act (the Act), your employer or its worker’s compensation insurer is responsible for payment of all medical expenses associated with the injuries you suffered in a workplace incident. As it relates to lost wages attributable to the workplace injury, the system attempts to be fair to both employers and their insurers as well as the injured workers by taking an approach to calculate lost wages based off of the worker’s last year of earnings. This is calculated by taking the weekly amount the injured worker earned over the past 52 weeks and then averaging that amount to arrive at a number. The injured worker is then entitled to 66.67% of that number in lost wage benefits for however long it takes the injured worker to recover from his injuries suffered as a result of the workplace incident. There are special rules in place for those whose injuries may be permanent, whether those injuries are partial or total.
No lost wages are payable for the first seven days after the workplace accident. However, there is a statewide maximum reimbursement amount of $1,137 per week for 2020, so higher earners who are injured on the job may end up suffering under this provision of the Act. Nevertheless, there is also a minimum reimbursement amount of $284.25 per week, which serves as a downside protection for those whose income may not reach those thresholds.
Some people criticize this system as unfair to the injured worker because he or she is only able to receive ⅔ of his or her normal income if injured on the job, but this does not take into account the fact that worker’s compensation benefits are not taxable for purposes of either state or federal income taxes for the vast majority of people. Therefore, the injured worker ends up coming close to what he or she would have earned absent the workplace injury under the Act.
Contact the Experienced Virginia Worker’s Compensation Attorneys at Kalfus & Nachman
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 injuries. 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.