FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that provides benefits to employees for work-related accidental injuries and occupational diseases.
How do I get workers’ compensation coverage?
You are automatically covered by workers’ compensation from the first day of your employment,. Every employer is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance or be self-insured. Virginia, however, does not require workers’ compensation insurance unless there are three or more employees.
Will I be denied benefits if the injury is my fault in some way? Must I prove that my employer was completely to blame?
No. In most cases you are eligible for benefits without regard to fault. If there is a violation of a safety regulation, benefits may be denied.
Are there any work-related accidental injuries or diseases for which I might be denied benefits?
A few. An example for which you might be denied benefits is an injury caused while you are under the influence of alcohol.
May I be fired for filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits?
No. You may not be fired for either claiming or receiving benefits.
What benefits does workers’ compensation provide?
Basically, workers’ compensation benefits are money payments to reimburse you for various losses from your work-related injury or disease. These money payments cover the cost of –
- Time lost from work
- Necessary medical care related to the injury or disease
- Drugs and medical supplies needed for treatment
- Any special equipment needed for treatment or rehabilitation
- Transportation to and from doctors’ offices, medical supply stores, drugstores, etc.
- Rehabilitation services if you cannot return to work
- In case of death, compensation to your dependents
How long do these benefits last?
You may be entitled to lifetime disability benefits in D.C. and Maryland. In Virginia there is a limitation of 500 weeks in most cases. Related medical expenses are covered for life in all jurisdictions.
If I am disabled and cannot return to work, how is the amount of benefits determined?
Weekly disability benefits are based on how much you were earning at the time you were injured, subject to maximums set by each jurisdiction.
What if these benefits are not enough to cover my actual losses from not being able to work?
If a serious injury keeps you out of work for a long time, you may be eligible for additional benefits from Social Security.
Suppose I am permanently injured. Am I entitled to additional benefits?
If you have a permanent injury, then you may be entitled to receive additional money.
May I use my own doctor for treatment?
In the District of Columbia and Maryland you may choose any licensed doctor. In Virginia, you may choose a doctor from a list of three provided by the employer/insurance company.
Suppose my employer or workers’ compensation insurance carrier wants me to see their doctor?
Your employer or your employer’s insurance company has the right to have you examined by a physician of their choice but you are not required to be treated by that doctor.
Suppose my injury is caused by someone else?
You may be able to sue another party for your injuries. In such suits, pain and suffering may be sought in addition to lost wages. The compensation insurance company, however, can assert a lien against the recovery.
Am I permitted to have a lawyer represent me in a workers’ compensation case?
Yes. You have a right to be represented by an attorney in a workers’ compensation case.
Am I required to have a lawyer file a workers’ compensation claim?
No. The decision to use a lawyer is a matter of your personal judgment.
Why contact a lawyer to file a workers’ compensation claim?
The problem is that claim forms are designed only to get information; they are not designed to make sure your legal rights to benefits are preserved. Thus, without realizing it, you could answer a claim question in a way that could affect your chances of receiving benefits. If you are not certain about what you are doing, you take a risk in submitting a form without legal advice.