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Workers' compensation law in Virginia is set by Title 65.2 of the Virginia Code. The law is very complex and it contains several gray areas. Your employer's insurance company may try to take advantage of this and refuse to pay by questioning your injury.
If this happens you should know when to contact a workers' compensation attorney in Virginia for legal advice.
What Constitutes a Work Injury?
Every injury that occurs in your workplace is not covered by workers' compensation in Virginia. Several factors must be in place to give you the best chance of filing a successful workers' compensation claim as an injured worker.
Caused By An Accident
Factors that must be in place include:
- An identifiable incident
- The incident occurred at a time that is reasonably definite
- It caused a sudden, obvious change in the body that is structural or mechanical
- There is a clear causal connection between the incident and the bodily harm
It Arose Out Of Your Employment
In order to be eligible for workers' comp, you must show that your injury was due to the place, time, and circumstances of the incident, including:
- A connection between your accident and a risk or hazard that is associated with your work conditions
- Due to your employment, you were exposed to a risk or hazard that people in the general public are not exposed to
It Occurred During The Course Of Your Employment
In order to make a successful claim that your employer should be responsible for lost wages, medical expenses, and other compensation due to your accident, you must have been engaging in your job duties, and show that:
- You were working at the time, place, and under the circumstances of your employment when the injury occurred
- You were doing your employer's business at the time, and not engaging in some other activity
What Constitutes a Work Injury
Some accidents in the workplace are clear-cut examples where employers should be held liable under compensation law. These include areas where the employer did not maintain a safe workplace under the guidelines set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Industrial Accident Due To Faulty Equipment
The onus is on employers to maintain the equipment at their job sites, especially in industrial settings. OSHA maintains standards for several types of industrial equipment. Employers who do not maintain their equipment put their workers at risk for both minor injuries and fatal injuries.
For example, OSHA requires that machinery have guards that protect employees from rotating parts, sparks, flying chips, and other hazards. It also requires that if employees have to place their hands in a dangerous zone, employers must provide special hand tools for protection.
If you believe that your injury was caused by faulty equipment in the workplace, you should file a workers' compensation claim as soon as possible. You may be entitled to short or long-term benefits depending upon your impairment rating.
Work-Related Injury Due To Inadequate Workplace Conditions
Federal law protects you against unsafe workplaces, including work settings with conditions that put you in harm's way. Your employer must keep your workplace free of any known hazards to your health and safety.
For example, employers must ensure that you are protected against harmful chemicals. They must also have proper safety equipment in place, such as gloves and harnesses. If you believe that your workplace is unsafe, you have the right to request an OSHA inspection and talk to the inspector.
If you suffer a work injury due to inadequate workplace conditions, contact OSHA to file a report of an accident. This will help bolster the workers' compensation claim you file with your work injury attorney in Richmond, VA.
The Gray Area of Work-Related Accidents
Not all areas of Virginia Workers' Compensation law are clear-cut, including what is considered a work-related injury. Several situations end up being resolved by the Virginia Workers' Compensation Committee or in the courts.
Accident During Workplace Event or Lunch Break
If you suffer an injury during a workplace event or lunch break. you must show that your activities were part of your job. Virginia recognizes the Personal Comfort Doctrine, which states that periodic excursions during the workday are compensable. This could cover lunch, work breaks, bathroom breaks, and other activities.
Generally, you must be on your work premises to be compensated for an injury. For example, if you get hurt on the way to a restaurant during your lunch break, you would not be eligible for compensation.
If you are injured during a workplace event on or off the premises, you must show that your attendance at that function was part of accepted and normal activity in your workplace. If you can prove this, you have a better chance of having your workers' comp claim approved.
Worker's Misconduct Resulting in Workplace Injury
Workers are generally not compensated if they engage in misconduct in the workplace and that misconduct is what caused the injury. If you are hurt because of the conduct of other employees who are engaging in misconduct, such as horseplay, you are entitled to compensation.
Sickness or Long-Term Personal Injuries
In order to collect for sickness or long-term personal injuries, you must show that they are related specifically to your work environment and not to other factors. If your sickness is an ordinary disease that was aggravated by your work conditions, you are not eligible for compensation.
If you believe you contracted a disease as the result of your job, you must report it within two years after you seek medical care and your doctors give you a diagnosis, or within five years of your last exposure in the workplace, whichever comes first.
Suffered an Injury on the Job? Here's What To Do Next
If you suffered a work-related injury, do not hesitate in filling out an accident report form with your employer and with the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission. Under state reporting requirements, your employer is then also bound to meet reporting requirements.
At Commonwealth Law Group, we are committed to helping you through what can be a traumatic experience following a workplace injury. We have the experience to help you navigate complex workers' compensation laws and fight insurance companies that don't want to pay your claim.
If you have been injured at work or through the negligence of another individual or entity, contact us at (804) 999-9999 or or use the form below to connect with our legal team. We will fight to get you the justice you deserve.