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Workers' Compensation FAQ

Workers' Compensation FAQ

The law office of Armentrout & Armentrout, P.L.C. represents injured workers throughout Virginia in workers' compensation claims.

The firm's attorneys help workers with initial claims as well as appeals. They know Virginia's workers' compensation laws, and they understand how the system works. They focus on helping clients avoid delays to getting the compensation they need for medical bills, lost wages and vocational rehabilitation.

Armentrout & Armentrout's attorneys take the time to explain the legal process to clients in workers' compensation cases, and they are available at any time to answer questions. The firm takes workers' compensation cases on a contingency fee basis, and clients pay nothing unless they receive compensation. For a free initial consultation with an experienced lawyer, contact the firm's office in Harrisonburg.

Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about workers' compensation.

Can I Settle My Workers' Compensation Case?

Yes. We are able to settle many workers' compensation claims. All workers' compensation settlements in Virginia must be reviewed and approved by the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission and in many cases Medicare's interest needs to be considered before the Commission will review or approve a workers' compensation settlements. Workers' compensation settlements differ from automobile accident settlements in that pain and suffering is not a factor, but the settlement value of the claim depends on the value of the outstanding or potential future benefits which the injured worker may be entitled.

Can I Sue My Employer If I Get Hurt On The Job Due To My Employer's Negligence?

No. Virginia law strictly bars an employee from suing their employer or co-employees for injuries that incur on the job. The workers' compensation remedy is your exclusive remedy, although if you are injured due to some third party's negligence, you may still have a right to bring a law suit against that third party (for example, if you are a truck driver injured in a motor vehicle collision due to the fault of another driver).

Can I Be Fired If I Get Hurt On the Job?

While Virginia law prohibits an employer from terminating someone for filing a workers' compensation claim, it does not bar the employer from letting an employee go if they are not able to perform their job. In some cases, an employee's job may be protected under the Family Medical Leave Act if the employee is not off work for more than twelve weeks or by the Americans With Disabilities Act if the employee is capable of performing the essential functions of his job.

How Is My Doctor Selected?

When a worker gets injured on the job, he may select his own physician UNLESS the employer provides a panel of physicians within a reasonable time after the accident is reported. If the employer or its workers' compensation insurance company does provide a panel, which is a list of at least three different medical practices, then the injured worker is required to select a doctor from that panel and that doctor becomes the authorized treating physician. If the employer does not provide a panel (or waits too long to do so), then the injured worker is free to continue with or select their own physician.

Generally, an injured worker is better to select their own physician than to have to pick a doctor from the panel so it is important that an injured worker never ask for a panel and if offered one consult an attorney to determine if under that worker's circumstances he must select the doctor. Also, if a worker must pick a doctor from a panel, it is important to pick the best possible one.

How Can I Change Doctors?

Once a treating physician is selected, that physician may refer his or her patient to any physician or health care provider without permission or even notice to the employer or its workers' compensation insurance company. Any doctor or other health care provider to which the treating physician refers a worker becomes also an authorized treating physician. If a worker wishes to change doctors and the doctor is not willing to refer the patient to another doctor, it is possible to either negotiate with the insurance company for the selection of a new physician or to ask the Commission to order a change in physicians. This is, however, usually a difficult and contested situation. If you change doctors on your own without a referral, an agreement or an order of the Commission, then in most cases the employer will not have to pay for the new medical treatment.

Do I Have To Take A Job At Less Pay?

If you have been released to return to work, but your employer is unable or unwilling to provide work for you within your work restrictions or light duty limitations, the employer or its workers' compensation insurance company can try to find a job for you with another employer within your medical limitations. This is called vocational rehabilitation. The Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission's web site has established guidelines for vocational rehabilitation which you may review. Generally speaking, the insurer is not required to obtain a job at equal or greater pay than the job in which you got injured. However, if the insurer does find you a job for less pay, you are entitled to partial compensation (two-thirds of the difference between your pre-injury average weekly wage and the average weekly wage of the job found for you) for the partial lost wages.

What Does It Mean If I've Reached Maximum Medical Improvement?

Unlike some other states, in Virginia reaching maximum medical improvement has no immediate affect on a claimant's case with respect to his/her entitlement to medical care or his/her continuing to receive weekly compensation for being unable to return to their pre-injury job. The only real affect of reaching maximum medical improvement is that you must reach this state before a physician can provide a rating as to any permanent partial impairment you may have sustained as a result of your injuries. An impairment rating is a determination by a doctor of the amount of permanent partial loss you have suffered to your injured body part. The amount to which you may be entitled for the impairment varies depending on the part of your body affected.

Contact Us Today

Contact the firm to schedule a consultation regarding your case. Armentrout & Armentrout's offices are located in downtown Harrisonburg near Court Square. Office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and evenings and weekend appointments are accepted by pre-arrangement.

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Armentrout & Armentrout, P.L.C.
111 East Market Street, Suite A
Harrisonburg, VA 22801
Phone: 540-908-4523
Fax: 540-434-7929
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