Workers’ compensation laws in Virginia provide for several benefits, including payment of your medical bills and a portion of your wage loss. There is a common misconception that you can receive compensation for your pain and suffering through workers’ compensation, but unfortunately there are no laws that allow for pain and suffering compensation in workers’ compensation cases. However, Virginia laws do provide for specific benefits to people who sustain certain permanent injuries at work.
Virginia code § 65.2-503 provides for permanent partial disability benefits. There is a strict formula for these benefits. First, you will be paid according to the injured body part that is permanently impaired. For instance, an arm injury will be paid a maximum of 200 weeks, a leg injury a maximum of 175 weeks, a hand injury a maximum of 150 weeks, and a foot injury a maximum of 125 weeks. There are also benefits paid for permanent finger and toe injuries, as well as vision and hearing loss and permanent scarring and disfigurement. There are different values assigned to each of these body parts. Second, you need to obtain an impairment rating from your treating physician. That rating will be multiplied by the number of weeks afforded to the applicable body part. Therefore, if you have a 20% impairment rating for your arm injury (200 weeks), then you will be awarded permanent partial disability benefits for 40 weeks (200 weeks x 20% = 40 weeks). Finally, these benefits will be paid at the same weekly rate as the checks that you receive when you are totally disabled from work.
Remember that you cannot pursue these benefits until you have reached maximum medical improvement. Therefore, remember to stay in touch with your treating physician to discuss when you plateau in your recovery from your injuries. Once you reach maximum medical improvement, your treating physician will commonly refer you to a functional capacity evaluation to test your abilities in the workplace. Make sure that you ask for impairment rating testing at the same time as the functional capacity evaluation so that you can pursue your permanent partial disability benefits.
Also, Virginia law provides that you have three years from the date that you were last paid disability benefits under an award to file a claim for these permanent partial disability benefits. Therefore, not only can the procedure be confusing to prepare your claim for permanent partial disability benefits, but there are also strict deadlines. Call us to discuss your case and whether you can pursue these benefits in connection with your injuries.