When you are injured at work, your primary concerns are getting the medical treatment you need to recover from your injury and having money come in while you are unable to work so you can pay your bills. Workers’ compensation provides benefits to injured workers to calm both these concerns. A medical benefits or lost wages claim can help injured workers get the benefits they deserve.
Virginia law requires the workers’ compensation insurance company to pay for lifetime medical treatment that is causally related to your work injury or occupational disease. When you are injured at work, your employer should provide you a panel of physicians (a list of three doctors) to choose a doctor to treat for your injuries, or the emergency room may give you a direct referral for follow-up. Workers’ compensation is responsible for paying for all treatment from these medical providers and any referrals they make.
If you had a pre-existing condition that was made worse by your work accident, workers' compensation will be responsible to get you back to the condition you were in before your work accident occurred. Unfortunately, sometimes you never get back to “normal” after a work accident. In that case, workers’ compensation will be responsible to pay for lifelong care for aggravation of the pre-existing condition.
If your work injury causes you to have additional accidents and injuries (for example, you fall because your injured knee gave out, and you suffered new injuries) after the original work accident, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier would be responsible to pay for the new injuries as a compensable consequence of the original accident.
These medical benefits are covered for life. The insurance carrier’s liability for medical treatment typically ends if you settle your workers’ compensation claim, or if a doctor does not believe your ongoing medical treatment continues to be the result of the work accident.
There are several types of wage loss benefits available in a Virginia workers’ compensation claim. Determining which benefit applies to your lost wages claim impacts the benefits you receive. These benefits are: temporary total disability, temporary partial disability, permanent partial disability, and permanent total disability.
In most cases an injured worker is entitled to wage loss benefits for up to 500 weeks. Benefits are paid based on your “average weekly wage” (the amount of money you earned on average per week over the last 52 weeks). The insurance company is obligated to pay you 66.667% of your average weekly wage each week you are totally out of work.
Temporary total disability (TTD) is awarded to an injured worker for periods of time when their doctor has them totally out of work. Temporary total disability benefits are paid at 66.667% of your average weekly wage. Temporary total disability benefits would be paid until your doctor releases you to full duty work or your employer has work for you within the restrictions given to you by your doctor.
Temporary partial disability (TPD) is paid when an injured worker returns to work within restrictions given by their doctor, but they earn less than their pre-injury average weekly wage. Temporary partial disability benefits are paid at 66.667% of your average weekly wage and the amount earned while working light duty. Temporary partial disability benefits would be paid until the treating doctor releases the injured worker to full duty or the injured worker earns the same amount or more than they did before the work injury occurred.
Permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits are paid when you suffer permanent impairment to a body part listed in statute, which generally includes impairment to an arm or leg or any part thereof or loss of vision or hearing. Permanent partial disability is paid in cases where there was an amputation or a permanent loss of function has been assigned by the physician. For example, a leg is worth 200 weeks of wage loss benefits. If your leg is amputated the insurance company would be obligated to pay you 200 weeks of wage loss. However, if your leg is only injured and has permanent limitations due to the injury, your doctor would assign an impairment rating in a percentage form. For example, if you had a 10% disability rating to your leg the insurance company would be obligated to pay you for 20 weeks of wage loss benefits. The amount paid for PPD is deducted from your 500-week total.
In some cases, an injured worker is permanently and totally disabled from employment. Permanent total disability (PTD) benefits provide payment to the injured worker for the remainder of their life. Permanent total disability benefits are typically awarded in brain injury cases and cases involving severe permanent impairment to two or more extremities. An injured worker would not be eligible to apply for permanent total disability until the end of their 500 weeks is closing to expiring and it is apparent they cannot return to work.
Our experienced Richmond workers’ compensation lawyers at Renfro & Renfro provide a free consultation and case evaluation to work accident victims. Our attorneys can assist you with your medical benefits and lost wages claim or claims after your workplace injury. We serve clients in the Greater Richmond Region, including in Petersburg and Dinwiddie, and throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Whether or not you’re certain that you need a workers’ comp lawyer to be fully compensated for your work injury, we welcome you to schedule a free consultation by using our online form.