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Giving a Voice to the Injured

Virginia Workers' Compensation Attorneys

Helping Injured Workers Recover the Benefits They Are Owed

Have you recently suffered a serious injury at work? Is your employer's insurance company making it difficult to receive the money or medical care you need? The Virginia workers' compensation system is designed to protect you in the event of an on-the-job accident, injury, or occupational illness. Unfortunately, workers sometimes experience unfair treatment and receive insufficient settlements.

At The Barrera Law Firm, PLLC, our workers' compensation lawyers in Virginia have helped thousands of injured workers like you obtain the benefits they deserve. Our team is prepared to help you fight for the full compensation to which you are entitled. Call (571) 290-2390 to get started!

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How The Barrera Law Firm Can Help

With 75 years of combined legal experience, we have an in-depth knowledge of this area of the law. We have experience in dealing with insurance companies and will fight to secure the compensation you need to move forward after an accident.

We handle all types of workplace accidents and injuries, such as:

You only have two years to file a claim after an accident or the discovery of an occupational illness. Call our Virginia workers' compensation attorneys today at (571) 290-2390.

Virginia Workers' Compensation Laws

Most employers in Virginia are required to provide workers' compensation coverage for their employees. This coverage includes full-time and part-time workers, as well as temporary and seasonal employees.

Workers' compensation in Virginia is considered an exclusive remedy. This means that in most cases, employees cannot sue their employers for negligence related to a workplace injury. Instead, their compensation comes through the workers' compensation system.

In Virginia, injured employees are required to report their work-related injury or illness to their employer within 30 days of the incident. Failure to do so can impact the ability to claim benefits.

Employees must file a claim with the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission. The claim must be filed within two years of the date of the accident, or within two years of the date when the employee becomes aware of the work-related illness or injury.

Disputes related to workers' compensation claims can be resolved through the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission. The Commission will mediate disputes between injured workers and their employers or insurance carriers.

Injured workers can choose to have legal representation during the claims process. Employers and insurance carriers often have legal representation as well.

Types of Workers' Compensation Benefits

Our workers' compensation attorneys in Alexandria have handled cases involving amputations, paralysis, brain injuries, herniated discs, loss of vision or hearing, and more. We have also assisted surviving family members in seeking death benefits after a fatal accident.

You may be eligible to receive the following benefits:

  • Temporary wage replacement - You are entitled to two-thirds of your gross average weekly wages (to a set maximum limit) once you've been unable to work for seven days. If able to return to work at a lower wage, you are entitled to two-thirds of the difference between current and previous wages.
  • Lifetime medical benefits - You are entitled to medical care to treat your injury or illness as long as it is deemed medically necessary. Your employer gets some power in determining your physician.
  • Permanent partial impairment - You may be eligible for separate compensation if you have suffered the loss of the use of a specific body part/sense, such as the use of a foot or hand, or the loss of vision or hearing.
  • Permanent total disability - Lifetime wage replacement benefits may be available if you suffered tremendous physical loss (the loss of both eyes, the loss of a hand and a foot) in a single work accident.
  • Death benefits - You may be eligible for wage benefits and funeral expenses (up to $11,000) if you lost a spouse in a workplace accident. Dependent children also may file for death benefits.
  • Cost of living increase - If you are receiving temporary total, permanent total, or death benefits, you must request a cost of living increase - it is not automatically available.

You may also be entitled to reimbursement for:

  • Travel costs to and from medical appointments
  • Medication prescriptions
  • Medical devices

An employee should not be billed for any work injury-related treatment or equipment. Instead, the employer or its workers’ compensation insurance should pay any and all medical bills. In addition, workers’ compensation insurance should also pay for long-term care, such as home care services or physical therapy. To learn more about the benefits you may be entitled to, contact our Virginia workers' comp attorneys today!

Employees' Rights When Returning to Work

One of the main goals of workers’ compensation is to get the employee back to work as soon as possible. Therefore, workers may be entitled to vocational rehabilitation, which, of course, depends on the employee’s physical abilities and mental skills.

For this reason, transitional duties may be necessary depending on the employee’s progress, or the employer may have to provide necessary modifications to the work environment or duties in order to service the employee. In some cases, it may be necessary to help the employee find more suitable employment elsewhere.

What If My Workers' Comp Claim Was Denied?

Workers' compensation claims in Virginia can be denied for various reasons.

Common reasons for the denial of workers' compensation claims in Virginia include:

  • Failure to Report the Injury Timely: In Virginia, injured workers are required to report their workplace injuries to their employer within 30 days of the accident or the date they first knew or should have known that their injury or illness was work-related. Failing to report the injury within this timeframe can result in a claim denial.
  • Missed Filing Deadlines: There are strict deadlines for filing workers' compensation claims in Virginia. You must file a claim with the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission (VWC) within two years of the date of the accident or the date of the last payment of compensation or medical treatment. Failing to meet these deadlines can lead to a denial.
  • Preexisting Conditions: If an employer or insurance company can demonstrate that your injury or condition was preexisting and not caused or exacerbated by your job, your claim may be denied.
  • Lack of Medical Evidence: You need to provide thorough medical documentation to support your claim. This includes medical records, doctor's reports, and other evidence that establishes a direct connection between your injury and your job. Insufficient or inconclusive medical evidence can lead to a denial.
  • Inadequate Notice to Your Employer: Failure to promptly notify your employer about your injury, in writing and with specific details, can result in a denial of your claim.
  • Disputes About the Injury: Sometimes, employers or their insurance companies may dispute the severity or nature of the injury, suggesting it's not as serious or work-related as claimed. This can lead to a denial or delay in benefits.
  • Injuries Outside of Work Duties: Injuries that occur outside the scope of your work duties may not be covered by workers' compensation. It's essential to demonstrate that the injury happened while you were engaged in work-related activities.
  • Violation of Employer Policies: If the injury occurred while violating company policies, such as being under the influence of drugs or alcohol or engaging in horseplay, your claim may be denied.
  • Independent Medical Examinations (IME): In some cases, employers or insurers may request an independent medical examination to assess the validity of your injury. If the IME doctor disagrees with your treating physician, your claim may be denied.
  • Misclassification of Employment Status: If you are classified as an independent contractor rather than an employee, you may not be eligible for workers' compensation benefits.

If an employer or insurer refuses to provide workers' comp benefits, employees should not assume they are not entitled to receive them. Employees have the right to request a hearing from the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. If they win the appeal, the employee must be reimbursed for all benefits owed.

Has your employer or its insurance company denied your workers' compensation claim? If so, don't give up hope. Our Virginia workers' comp attorneys can take a look at your denied claim and help you file an appeal in an appropriate and timely manner.

Do I Need to Hire a Workers' Comp Lawyer?

Here's what the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission has to say about that:

You are not required to have a lawyer and can represent yourself. The employer / carrier must be represented by a lawyer. It is your decision whether to hire an attorney. However, you will be at a disadvantage without legal representation.

No one wants to enter a legal proceeding at a disadvantage; you are much better off hiring someone who knows what they're doing. Protect your rights so you don't lose your case just because you were unaware of a deadline or legal intricacy by hiring an experienced workers' compensation lawyer in Virginia.

What to Do After a Workplace Accident

We understand how difficult and frustrating it can be to handle a workplace injury on your own. The system can be intimidating to navigate, and you cannot always rely on your employer or their representatives to guide you in a manner that is fair.

At The Barrera Law Firm, PLLC, we have helped thousands of injured workers claim financial recoveries after an accident, and we can help you, too.

Steps to take after a workplace accident:

  • Seek medical attention: Do not delay in getting care. If needed, go to the emergency room, or ask your employer if you are required to see a certain doctor or if they will allow you to choose your own doctor. If you are required to go to a certain doctor and are not happy with how your visit went, it is wise to seek a second opinion from another doctor. Many times, this will be covered by workers’ comp or by your own health insurance. It is better to be safe and have any injuries evaluated than to wait too long, causing you to lose your benefits.
  • Notify your employer and file a claim: Report your injury as soon as you discover it so that your employer can promptly file your workers’ compensation claim. Even if you do not immediately notice any injuries, you must still report the accident, and if you discover your injuries later, notify them again as soon as you notice them. You are entitled to a copy of the claim filed by your employer.
  • Keep records: Many states have a very short period of time in which you can file a claim following an accident. In order to qualify for workers’ comp, you must first create your accident report with your employer. After creating your accident report, document everything, including your medical visits, what you spoke to the doctor about, how the injury is affecting you, etc. This can be used as evidence later in case you experience difficulties with your claim.
  • Know your rights: Unfortunately, the workers’ compensation system can make it very difficult for you to secure a fair amount of compensation for your injuries. You may be entitled to more than you might realize, especially if a third party was involved in your accident. Insurance companies will use anything you say to find ways to deny benefits whenever possible. A workers' compensation lawyer can help you understand your rights as a workplace injury victim and can increase your chances of securing the maximum amount of compensation.

Don't Wait to Get Help – Call (571) 290-2390

Virginia workers' compensation laws were written to help injured workers without the need to go through the court system. Sadly, businesses and their insurance companies can make this process more difficult than it should be.

There are thousands of dollars at stake, and our Alexandria workers' compensation attorneys can help you fight for every last benefit owed to you and your family, whether you live in Virginia, Maryland, or Washington D.C.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help. Your initial consultation is free, so call now: (571) 290-2390.

Workers' Comp FAQ

Answers to Your Frequently Asked Questions
If you were injured while working, you are probably feeling overwhelmed about your situation. At The Barrera Law Firm, PLLC, we strive to make the workers' compensation process as easy as possible. To help you make smart decisions regarding your case, our Virginia workers' compensation lawyer has collected some of the most commonly asked questions about workers' compensation. You don't have to face this stressful situation alone.
  • Where can I get a workers' compensation claim form?
    Send us an e-mail, and we would be happy to send you the claim form. You can also download claim forms from the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission website.
  • My doctor said I will be out of work for two months. How will I make ends meet?
    Should your doctor state that you cannot work as a result of injuries suffered in a work accident, you should be able to apply for, and receive wage benefits for your "temporary total disability." Virginia's workers' compensation laws allow for a payment of 66 2/3% of you average weekly wage based on your earnings for the 52 weeks before the work accident. If you think that you are not being paid at the correct compensation rate, it is highly recommended that you speak with our firm.
  • Now that I'm disabled, how am I supposed to be able to afford hiring a lawyer?
    In workers' compensation cases, all attorney fees are authorized by a Commissioner, and are paid from your benefits. The maximum percentage a lawyer can receive in a case of this type is 20%. The Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission can and does order the payment of legal fees at lesser rates depending on the case and circumstances. Generally, the payment of legal fees is made directly to the lawyer from the workers' compensation insurance carrier.
  • Can I be fired for filing a workers' compensation claim?
    You and your witnesses cannot be fired because you filed a workers' compensation claim. If you feel that you might be fired, it is likely best that you seek the assistance of a qualified workers' compensation lawyer before you actually file the claim. If you have already been fired for filing a claim, then you already need a lawyer.
  • My workers' compensation case has been accepted. What should I do now?
    If you haven't yet filed a claim, make sure you get a formal claim filed. Make sure you follow your doctor's advice 100% and make sure your employer knows what's happening. You have an affirmative obligation to let your employer know of your injury immediately. Make sure you keep receipts for all out-of-pocket expenses and records of your mileage for submission to the insurance company. If the insurance company is asking for recorded statement, consider hiring a lawyer.
  • When should I settle my workers' compensation claim?
    There are a number of considerations which play a part in knowing when to settle a workers' compensation claim. It is one of the best reasons I know for hiring a lawyer. I usually suggest settling a claim as soon as you have reached MMI (maximum medical improvement). MMI means there will be no further recovery from your injuries. Once you have reached MMI, and are at an end point in your treatment, you should be able to obtain a rating of your permanent partial disability (PPD), and try to settle your claim based on your rating. If your injury is such that there is a high likelihood of serious future medical care, then you might very well want to engage the services of professionals to evaluate the cost of future care.
  • I have received a referral to the hearing docket. What does this mean?
    Simply put, it means you are going to court. The employer or the insurance company has advised the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission that some part of your claim has NOT been accepted. As a result, a Deputy Commissioner of the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission will be assigned to handle the hearing. Your case will be set for a hearing in the near future. You are at a terrible disadvantage should you try to handle the hearing on your own. While the Deputy Commissioners will likely give you some leeway, just because you are unrepresented, you will still be at a disadvantage going forward. I strongly recommend that you hire a qualified lawyer to represent you at the hearing.
  • When can I expect workers' compensation benefits to start?
    There is no easy answer to this question because various problems could arise while you are waiting for your benefits to start. Normally, it take about two weeks for the wage benefit checks to get started. Under Virginia workers' compensation law, you must be disabled for 7 days before you qualify for any wage replacement benefits whatsoever. Wage benefits start on the 8th day. If you are disabled for longer than 21 days, then the workers' compensation insurance carrier is responsible for paying the 7 days of compensation.
  • Should I give the workers' compensation insurance company a recorded statement?
    You should expect that everything you say in your recorded statement can and will be used against you in a court of law. The reasons that cause the workers' compensation insurance company to want to take your recorded statement are that they either are thinking of denying your claim altogether, or that they are investigating some defense to your claim. Do not think for a minute that they are taking your recorded statement just because they are "trying to help." You can expect for the adjuster to ask questions regarding how the accident happened, your background information, work history, and the status of your medical treatment. There is no good reason for them to ask about anything else if they are really trying to help. You can always terminate the recorded statement, and state that you're going to hire a lawyer before you answer any more of their questions. That would be a smart choice.
  • How long will my workers' compensation case take?
    This is one of the most common questions asked by someone starting a workers compensation case. I usually answer the question with a series of questions. When are you going to finish your medical treatment? When will your doctor say you've reached MMI? When are you going to return to work? How long will you be receiving physical therapy or vocational rehabilitation? The answer to any of these questions might give you some idea of how long your case will take. Some cases are over in six months, others take years. The major factor which will determine how long your case will take is the severity of your injury. Generally the more serious the injury, the longer the time needed to bring it to conclusion.
  • How do I get medical treatment after a workplace accident?
    As an injured worker, you have certain responsibilities under the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act. The same is true of your employer. After your employer receives notice that you have been injured on the job, your employer should give you a list of three doctors. You are required to select one doctor from the list as your treating physician. If your employer fails to provide you with a list of three physicians, you can select your own doctor. Many times, employers will try to take the injured worker to a clinic, or worse "the company doctor." If you need emergency care, go to an emergency room. Assuming that your workers' comp claim is accepted, or held compensable, your employer will be obligated to pay 100% of the cost of your reasonable and necessary medical treatment. It is your responsibility under the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act to fully cooperate with your medical treatment, which includes attending doctor visits and following your treating physician's advice. Your workers' compensation benefits can be suspended should you fail to fully cooperate with your medical treatment.
  • Am I entitled to an award of my pain and suffering in my workers' comp claim?
    There is no provision for pain and suffering under the Virginia Workers' Compensation Statute. There is a right to an award of your permanent partial disability should you be permanently disabled as a result of your work accident. If lingering pain is a large component of your permanent complaints, you should consult our Virginia workers compensation lawyer.
  • What is an independent medical exam?
    An independent medical exam is an examination by an insurance company doctor. It should be called a defense medical exam as there is nothing independent about it. An exam is requested so that the "independent" doctor can state that you were not hurt, or that you are completely healed, or that you can return to work without restrictions, or that your condition or impairment has no relationship to your work injury. The insurance company's idea is to either deny your claim, or to try to pay the least possible. The Virginia Workers' Compensation Act provides a right for the insurance company to obtain one independent medical exam per year per specialty. Should the insurance company be requesting that you attend such an examination, you should contact our firm as soon as possible.
  • What should I do now that the insurance company has hired a nurse case manager?
    Nurse case managers are brought into Virginia workers' compensation claims in order to provide eyes and ears for the insurance company at the injured worker's medical appointments. The key points to keep in mind is that the nurse case manager has no right to be present during your appointment with the doctor. If you ask the nurse case manager to leave the examination room, they are obligated to leave. If the nurse case manager wants to speak with the doctor, then that can be done at some other time, but not during your time with your doctor. Your doctor should conduct all conversations with the nurse case manager in your presence and you have the right to ask that this happens. If there are problems with the nurse case manager it is best to exclude them from the examination room and advise your doctor, and lawyer about the problems you are having. By having a nurse case manager involved in the case, the insurance company feels that it can advance the return to work date, and thereby save money. Aside from any money savings, it is imperative that you get sufficient time to heal, and your doctor can provide you with the necessary disability slips in that regard.
  • When should I consider hiring a workers' compensation attorney?
    Many people decide to hire a lawyer only when they can't handle it anymore. They seek the help of a lawyer when they are up against some deadline, hearing date, or when events spin out of control. Unfortunately, many lawyers won't handle these cases as they are too time consuming and usually filled with problems. When the question arises as to when someone should hire a lawyer, in my opinion, a lawyer should be hired as soon as possible. There is no good reason to wait.
  • What documents should I bring when meeting with a lawyer?
    You should try to put together anything and everything relating to your employment, and your work injury. This includes information such as your salary, when the accident happened, names of co-workers, health insurance information, hospital discharge papers, medication receipts, and any correspondence from the insurance carrier or your employer. Present all these documents to your lawyer and let him or her sort through what you have and determine what is, and what is not relevant.
  • Can I get a second opinion?
    There are times when getting a second opinion is a good idea. Should you doctor recommend a surgery, and you have doubts about whether it is a good idea, it might be good time to see another doctor. Generally, you can get a second opinion if an invasive treatment is offered, or if your doctor is not wholeheartedly recommending the treatment. Under the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act, any second opinion would have to be authorized by the workers' compensation insurance carrier. A second opinion can be obtained by having your doctor recommend a specific doctor, or by having the insurance carrier provide a panel of three physicians.
  • I am not happy with my present doctor. Can I change my treating physician?
    Under Virginia law, once you have established a doctor-patient relationship, you cannot change physicians. You might be able to get a second opinion, but you will not be able to change physicians without the consent of the workers' compensation insurance carrier.
  • Can I sue my employer while collecting workers' comp in Virginia?
    If you are hurt at work, workers' compensation is generally your sole action to recover compensation for injuries from your employer. If your employer doesn't carry workers' comp insurance and / or if your employer is self-insured but cannot satisfy an award, you can still file for benefits through the Virginia Uninsured Employer's Fund. The Workers' Compensation Commission may then refer the claim to the Attorney General to collect funds from the employer. Meanwhile, the Virginia Supreme Court recently found that a worker who is receiving workers' comp cannot file a suit against an employer even if the employer didn't carry workers' compensation insurance. The bottom line is that if you are receiving workers' comp, then you cannot sue your employer. But there are circumstances under which workers may seek legal recourse against a negligent third party in addition to receiving workers' compensation benefits. To learn more about these kinds of circumstances, please do not hesitate to turn to our firm for more information.
  • Can seasonal workers qualify for workers' compensation benefits?
    Yes! Thankfully, Virginia law requires any employer with more than two employees to carry worker’s compensation coverage. This includes seasonal, part-time, and even immigrant workers.

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Why Choose The Barrera Law Firm, PLLC?

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