A work injury can cause major disruptions to your life—not only to your health, but also to your career, finances, and overall well-being. The Virginia workers’ compensation system is designed to compensate you for some of those losses and get you back to work as soon as possible. However, worker’s comp also limits the amount of money you can receive from your employer. This article explains the types and amounts of benefits that are available through workers’ comp. (To get these benefits, you will need to file a Virginia workers’ compensation claim.)
Temporary total disability benefits are paid to workers who need more than seven days off work due to their injuries. The first seven days of disability are not paid unless you miss more than 21 days of work. These benefits are two-thirds of your average weekly wage, but cannot exceed a maximum amount set by law each year. As of July 1, 2017, the maximum benefit is $1,043 per week. (The cap is updated annually in July; you can find a list of the maximums at the website of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission.)
Temporary partial disability benefits are paid to employees who are able to work, but who are earning less due to their injuries. These benefits are two-thirds of the difference between your wages before your injury and the wages you are able to earn after your injury. For example, suppose you normally earn $900, but you’re working a light-duty job earning $300 per week. You could receive two-thirds of $600 ($900 - $300), or $400 per week.
Temporary disability benefits are paid until:
Once your medical treatment is complete, your doctor will evaluate you for a permanent disability. If you are found to have a permanent and total disability, you will continue to receive weekly payments at your temporary total rate for life. Permanent total disabilities include:
If your doctor finds that you have a permanent partial disability, you may be eligible for additional benefits. A scheduled loss of use award is available for disabilities of certain body parts, such as the eyes, ears, arms, legs, hands, or feet. The award is paid at two-thirds of your average weekly wages, for a number of weeks determined by a state schedule. For example, the schedule lists a total loss of use of a thumb at 60 weeks. If you have only a 50% loss of use of a thumb, you would receive 30 weeks of payments. The schedule also provides up to 60 weeks of payment for severe disfigurement and between 50 and 100 weeks of payment for certain lung diseases.
Virginia workers’ compensation also provides additional benefits, including:
As you can see, workers’ compensation only pays of a portion of your lost wages. Workers’ comp also does not pay anything for the pain and suffering caused by your injury. While this may seem unfair, it is part of the trade-off that is the workers’ comp system. The advantage of workers’ comp is that you can get benefits relatively quickly without needing to file a lawsuit or prove that your employer was at fault for causing your injury. The downside is that you can’t get the full value of your losses. (However, in some cases, you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover pain and suffering and other losses. To learn more, see our article on suing outside of the workers’ comp system.)