Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Under VA law, the following benefits are available under Workers’ Compensation:
If an accident “rings the above special bells,” the following benefits are available:
- A lifetime medical award (for treatment which is reasonable, necessary, and casually related to the accident) is available. This provides for medical care, for the life of the worker, for the injuries that are related to the work place accident.
- Wage replacement benefits during the time that you (i) are unable to work, (ii) are on light duty and the employer cannot provide alternative work, (iii) are on light duty and are making less than you made pre-injury.
- Temporary Total Disability Benefits – can be paid when someone is either completely disabled or on light duty and light duty cannot be provided the employer. This is capped at a combined maximum of 500 weeks. “Marketing” may be required. See below.
- Temporary Partial Benefits – can be paid when someone is on a light duty status and earning less than they made pre-injury as a result of the injury. This benefit counts toward the combined 500 week maximum. “Marketing” may be required. See below.
- Permanent Total Disability Benefits – can be paid out over a worker’s life expectancy, after a combined 500 weeks are exhausted, if a worker is grievously injured, e.g., severe and permanent brain damage, complete loss of use or a substantial reduction in loss of use of two limbs.
- Permanent Partial Disability: There are also permanent partial disability benefits that provide for a monetary payout for permanent damage or loss of use to an injured body part. Various body parts are recognized under the Workers’ Compensation Act and each has been assigned a maximum number of weeks of an injured workers’ compensation rate that can be paid for either the total loss of or the corresponding percentage loss of use of that body part.
- Death Benefits: In the event of the tragic loss of life of an injured worker, death benefits (up to 500 weeks of the injured workers’ compensation rate) may be paid out to the surviving spouse and/or children of that deceased worker. These benefits may also be paid out to a non-family member who was financially dependent upon the injured worker if there is no dependent, surviving children or spouse.
Sudden Injury v. Injury Over Time
With certain exceptions—such as carpal tunnel—for an injury to be covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act, it cannot be an injury that was sustained over a course of time. This means that a worker cannot get to the end of the day and realize their back really hurts, after completing a shift of heavy lifting. The Act requires that a worker be able to recognize the specific event that caused the injury and relate it back to a reasonably definite period of time. As there always is in law, there are some limited exceptions to this rule. It is better, however, not to rely upon those exceptions.