At Tucker Griffin Barnes P.C., Virginians often come to us with questions about injuries suffered on the job. From our offices in Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Palmyra and Staunton, our attorneys provided comprehensive guidance on workers’ compensation claims and third-party personal injury actions. Whether your questions are similar to the ones answered below or you seek counsel on other areas of workers’ compensation, we will listen to your concerns and give you advice you can trust.
When your injury or illness is job-related, you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. To qualify, your injury must “arise out of employment” and occur “in the course of employment.” This covers most incidents that occur in the workplace, but exceptions, such as injuries suffered in a fight between co-workers, can be excluded. Essentially, an injury is work-related if it happened while you were engaged in an activity that confers a benefit on your employer.
An injury away from your regular work site can still be covered under workers’ compensation. For example, if your job entails travel and you were going from one job assignment to another, you are covered. If your boss sent you on a special errand for work, you are likewise covered. If you were injured on your way to an off-site work event, such as an in-service or seminar, you would be covered. However, accidents that occur while someone is commuting from home to work do not qualify.
Regularly scheduled breaks are considered work activities for purposes of workers’ compensation. As long as you didn’t violate any rules, such as leaving the job site or engaging in horseplay, you should be covered.
Under workers’ compensation, employees are eligible for benefits, but independent contractors are not. This makes the classification of workers as employees or contractors an important point of dispute in workers’ compensation cases. If you’ve been denied benefits because of your classification, you should know that your employer’s opinion of what category you fall into is not dispositive. Employers often misclassify workers to avoid paying benefits and FICA taxes. Therefore, courts look at several other factors, often ruling that workers who were called contractors were actually functioning as employees.
Worker’s compensation is a no-fault insurance program, so all you have to prove is that your injury was occurred during the course of your work. You’re even covered when your own negligence causes your injury. However, if a third party, someone with whom you do not have an employer-employee or co-worker relationship, caused your injury, you may be able to sue for damages that go beyond workers’ compensation benefits in a personal injury claim. That would require proof of negligence.
Delay can be fatal to a workers’ compensation claim. The law allows you two years from the date of an accident, or from the date a doctor diagnoses a work-related condition. However, you should alert your employer immediately after an accident. Otherwise, your employer might claim that a subsequent event caused your injury.
You have the right to challenge any denial of benefits. Attorneys at our firm can review your case and prepare an appeal that can enhance your chances of success.
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