Posted on Monday, December 11th, 2017 at 11:28 am
Who is covered under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act?
The Virginia worker’s compensation law covers every person who works in the service of another for hire or as an apprentice. This includes aliens and minors. It includes people whether the contract or apprenticeship is in writing or employed and even whether the contact is legal or not. The only exception is for workers who are not employed in the usual course of the trade, business, occupation or profession of the employer.
What kinds of injuries are covered under the law?
Injuries that can be identified by a single occurrence. Workplace injuries are generally covered in Virginia if:
Virginia also covers occupational diseases such as respiratory problems or exposure to toxic chemicals. The disease must be due to work though there is no need to show that specific accident caused the disease. Medical doctors usually are called in to show that the diseases were proximately caused by workplace conditions.
Ordinary diseases generally are not covered unless it can be shown with clear and convincing evidence that the disease resulted from work and not caused outside of work, and that one of the following applies:
Carpal tunnel syndrome is most frequently found compensable in Virginia while other types of repetitive stress injuries may be more difficult to prove. Hearing loss is also compensable under the ordinary disease standard.
Common types of occupational illnesses include asthma, mesothelioma, bronchitis, chronic encephalopathy, black lung disease and pneumoconiosis.
What workplace injuries are not compensable under Virginia workers’ compensation law?
Except for carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive stress injuries such as backaches and neckaches are not compensable. Aside from diseases that do not qualify as occupational diseases; back pain, neck pain, and spinal pain are not compensable unless they relate to a specific identifiable accident.
Are emotional claims compensable?
As with other workplace injuries, if a worker suffers psychiatric or emotional problems due to a specific injury, employees can be treated by a psychiatrist or psychologist – and have the bills paid for. Many workers do suffer emotionally if they, for example, suffer a broken leg. They worry about when they will get better and all the things they can’t do while they’re heal. If there isn’t a traceable accident, psychiatric damages might be compensable if they were a direct natural consequence of some work experience – such as a nurse who sees someone die.
When must Virginia Workers’ Compensation claims be brought?
Does the employer have any defenses?
Not every workplace injury is compensable. Some employee misconduct can negate the right to benefits. Common defenses include:
Injuries that are self-inflicted such as suicide are not compensable. Other workplace injuries that are not paid in Virginia are:
Willful misconduct such as intentionally ignoring safety law if it’s clear that:
Can employees be punished for fraud or knowingly making false statements or failing to make necessary disclosures?
Employers who knowingly make a false statement may be found guilty of a felony. They may also lose their right to benefits. Claimants who are getting benefits have a duty to notify their employer of any significant changes that might affect his/her right to benefits. Examples include returning to another job, remarriage, being sentenced to jail, or other consequences. Employees who obtained workers’ compensation funds through fraud may be liable for any overpayments.
Can an employer fire me if a file a workers’ compensation claim?
No. Employees have a direct right to file a work injury claim in Virginia. If a worker is fired or an employer threatens an employee, the worker should immediately meet with a Virginia worker’s compensation attorney to understand his/her rights.
What if I’m an independent contractor?
Workers who are not employees cannot generally request workers’ compensation insurance. Whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee is not always clear. A Virginia work injury attorney can explain whether you might qualify as an employee. Even if the employer says you are an independent contractor, you may be legally an employee and have work injury rights. Some of the factors that can persuade a referee that an employee is really an employee are:
Speak with an Experienced Virginia Work Injury Lawyer Today
Virginia workers’ compensation attorney Joe Miller Esq. can answer all of your work injury questions. He has successfully represented thousands of injured workers during his twenty-five plus years of experience. For a free consultation, please call him at (888) 694-1671 or complete our contact form.
Posted on Monday, December 4th, 2017 at 1:14 pm
Most workers need to show they suffered a specific workplace injury in order to recover workers’ compensation in Virginia. There is an exception for workers who suffer a disease that is due to work. Most occupational diseases occur after months or more normally years of exposure. Many workers may not even know they acquired the disease until decades after the exposure. The delay in seeking treatment for the disease can be problematic for many workers because employers and their insurance companies are likely to initially deny coverage due to the delay and the failure to point to a specific triggering event.
Joe Miller Esq., understands the Virginia occupational illness laws. He fights for workers who suffer these diseases which are often deadly, life-threatening, or disabling. He works with doctors to determine the disease, the cause of the disease, and to show the disease was related to daily work performance. For Virginia worker’s compensation, the last day the employee was exposed is generally considered the formal date of workplace injury.
The Virginia Statutory Definition of Occupational Disease
Here is the state statutory definition of occupational disease. Some exceptions may apply. An experienced Virginia workers’ compensation attorney will know those exceptions.
“Occupational disease” means a disease arising out of and in the course of employment, but not an ordinary disease of life to which the general public is exposed outside of the employment.
An occupational disease shall be deemed to arise out of the employment only if there is apparent to the rational mind, upon consideration of all the circumstances:
Hearing loss and the condition of carpal tunnel syndrome are not occupational diseases. Virginia law considers them to be ordinary diseases of life. Now that does not mean they are not compensable. It means that workers who are making claims for those types of diseases must meet a higher standard of proof than the clearly defined occupational diseases. That higher standard of proof is called “clear and convincing evidence.”
Generally, a worker who gets an ordinary disease does not qualify for workers’ compensation, unless certain elements of proof can connect it to the workplace, as will soon be explained. A worker who gets an occupational disease does qualify – so it’s crucial to be able to prove that disease is occupational and not ordinary.
But this does not mean that someone who has an ordinary disease is completely out of luck. It’s just that the standards of proof are harder, namely, that the elements must be proven by “clear and convincing evidence.” That is a much higher standard of proof than an occupational disease.
Some ordinary diseases may qualify as occupational disease, if the following conditions are clearly met:
1. If the disease can be shown to have arisen out of and in the course of employment and not due to outside causes and if one of the following exists:
a. It follows as an incident of occupational disease as defined in this title; or
b. It is an infectious or contagious disease contracted in the course of one’s employment in a hospital or sanitarium or laboratory or nursing home, or while otherwise engaged in the direct delivery of health care, or in the course of employment as emergency rescue personnel and those volunteer emergency rescue personnel. Essentially, this means people who normally provide some type of healthcare service such as nurses and ER staff and who acquire a disease may qualify for workers’ compensation, or
c. It is characteristic of the employment and was caused by conditions peculiar to such employment.
Common Types of Occupational Diseases
Many of the people who suffer an occupational disease suffer exposure to toxic chemicals. Some of the diseases associated with hazardous chemical exposure are:
Mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer that comes from exposure to asbestos, is another common occupational work disease. Also, many coal miners suffer from black lung disease.
Repetitive Motion Injuries and Emotional Stress Injuries
There are some occupational illnesses that are not due to exposure – rather they are due to repetitive stress. Workers who do a lot of computer work or repeat work such as assembly work in factories can develop carpel tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries. Repetitive stress injuries are also called repeated motion injuries. The most common type of repetitive stress injury affects the wrists. If detected in time; rest, rehab, and some medications can help. If not detected in time, repetitive stress injuries can become a lifelong disability. Virginia workers’ compensation law does not recognize repetitive stress injuries as occupational diseases but they are considered “ordinary diseases of life” and would therefore have to conform to the higher standards of “clear and convincing evidence” in order to be found compensable. Carpal tunnel syndrome is probably the most frequently claimed ordinary disease of life that is found to be compensable.
Other Ordinary Diseases that might be covered.
Conditions that are related to emotional stress such as being continually exposed to traumatic events and suffering from PTSD would not be occupational diseases, but ordinary diseases of life. There have been cases where paramedics and firemen have recovered for that condition due to repeated exposure to traumatic events, as they were able to show it was work-related by clear and convincing evidence.
Other ordinary diseases and conditions such as MRSA infection, tendinitis, HIV, Deep Vein Thrombosis, Frostbite, and Lyme disease have been shown to be compensable in specific cases.
An experienced Virginia workers’ compensation attorney such as Joe Miller can explain when emotional stress related disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, are covered.
Talk to a Virginia Occupational Disease Attorney Now
Virginia work injury lawyer Joe Miller understands workers’ compensation work injury law. He has been helping injured Virginia workers for over quarter of a century. He understands what workers need to prove to qualify for occupational disease benefits. For help now, call Joe Miller at (888) 694-1671 or fill out his online contact form.
Posted on Thursday, November 16th, 2017 at 11:00 am
Workers Compensation Attorney Joe Miller explains why you should never quit your job in the midst of a workers compensation claim.
Posted on Monday, October 16th, 2017 at 3:35 pm
Attorney Joe Miller explains a situations in which your workers’ comp might be denied in a recent interview:
Posted on Wednesday, October 11th, 2017 at 9:29 am
Should you be concerned about what you put on social media after your injury? Joe Miller addresses workers comp and social media in a recent interview:
Posted on Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017 at 9:16 am
Attorney Joe Miller answers questions about nurse case managers in a recent interview:
Posted on Tuesday, September 26th, 2017 at 8:46 am
Employees can be treated by many different types of doctors depending on how the accident occurred and they type of injuries suffered. Many workers need to see multiple doctors during the course of their recovery process. Some of the doctors who treat injured workers are:
In addition to treating with doctors, injured workers will also treat with the following types of health-care professionals
Work injury attorney Joe Miller understands which types of doctors injured workers see. He often recommends doctors when the employer recommended doctors aren’t helping. He works with the doctors to determine the full extent of your injuries and to verify your long-term health needs and work restrictions. To speak with an experienced work injury lawyer who has been fighting for employees for more than 25 years, please call attorney Miller Esq. at (888) 694-1671 or use his contact form to schedule an appointment.
Posted on Monday, September 18th, 2017 at 4:33 pm
In this recent interview, attorney Joe Miller explains why your company might hire a private investigator:
Posted on Thursday, September 14th, 2017 at 10:29 am
The Medical Society of Virginia has new requirements for prescribing Buprenorphine for addiction. These are part of the new Virginia Laws passed in response to the nationwide opioid epidemic and huge uptick in deaths from opioid overdose. Buprenorphine, also prescribed under the brand name Subloxone, is often utilized as a means to treat heroin addiction. While it is a semi-synthetic opioid, and does produce some of the same euphoric effects as heroin and morphine, it is found that at low doses, administration of this drug allows the addict to discontinue heroin or morphine while reducing— and in some cases even eliminating— the severe symptoms of withdrawal that can be so debilitating for addicts.
There are eight steps that physicians should follow before prescribing Buprenorphine:
Prescriptions should be waivered by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency, and comply with the federal and state laws for prescribing buprenorphine. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants must also be waivered and have a practice agreement with a waivered physician.
Before buprenorphine can be prescribed for opioid treatment, the physician should conduct and document a patient assessment that covers the following:
The physician should query (ask for results of a patient search) from the Prescription Monitoring Program before starting any treatment and during treatment.
Prepare a treatment plan that includes the following:
During the induction phase:
Initiate treatment with no more than 8mg of buprenorphine, except when medically indicated if properly documented in the medical record.
The patient should see the doctor once a week
During the stabilization phase, the prescriber should increase the dosage of buprenorphine in safe and small increments to achieve the lowest dosage without causing intoxication, withdrawal, or significant drug craving.
During the course of treatment:
Make sure the medical record includes the following documentation:
The prescriber should refer the patient to a mental health service provider as defined by the Virginia Code Section 54-1-2400.1 for counseling or should provide counseling to the patient and document the counseling in the record.
Prescribers should NOT prescribe buprenorphine if the patient is already taking any of the following medications (unless there are extenuating circumstances and a tapering plan to achieve the lowest possible documentation is properly documented):
Limitations for prescribing buprenorphine mono-products
How to work with the following special treatment populations
Speak with an experienced Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer now
Many workers who are injured are prescribed medications to manage their pain. Attorney Joe Miller works with caring qualified physicians and with the legal community to understand the latest requirements that physicians must follow. He has helped thousands of injured workers get a just recovery. To make an appointment now, please call Joe Miller Esq. by phoning him at (888) 694-1671 or using his contact form.
Posted on Monday, September 11th, 2017 at 3:41 pm
Attorney Joe Miller explains what happens if your employer denies your claim: