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What do I need to know if I was paid worker's compensation but I have a Virginia car accident injury case?

Workers Compensation and the Virginia Car Accident Case

To understand a Virginia Worker's Compensation case in the context of a Virginia car accident case, you must first understand that Worker's compensation benefits come from an insurance policy your company purchased. The claim is handled by an insurance company and if it is denied or there are other issues, then the case could go before the Virginia Worker's Compensation Commission which is state agency.

If the case goes before the commission, you can hire an attorney to assist you and the insurance company will have their own attorney. The commissioner, who is the equivalent of a judge, will hear the case. The commissioner will determine if the injury is compensable and what you are entitled to. Worker's Compensation is the only remedy you have if you are injured on the job and the injuries were from job related risks. The exception to this is if the injury was caused by the negligence of a third-party that has nothing to do with your employer.

Example 1:

You were injured while at work. You were on the factory floor and were hit by a fork lift that was being driven by your co-worker that was not paying attention. You sustain a fractured femur and miss 8 weeks from work. Your only remedy is likely going to be worker's compensation.

If your injury is determined to be compensable, you will be compensated for lifetime medical benefits for that injury and 2/3 of your lost wages. You are not compensated for non-economic losses such as pain and mental anguish and the injury and its affect on your health.

Example 2:

You are working and are driving from one job site to another job site. You stop at a stop light and another driver that does not work for your company slams into the rear of your vehicle. You sustain a fractured femur and miss 8 weeks from work. You are entitled to receive worker's compensation, and you are also entitled to make a personal injury claim against the person that caused your injury.

If you make a worker's compensation claim and it is determined to be compensable, the compensation insurance carrier will pay for lifetime medical benefits for that injury and will be responsible for 2/3 of your wages.

In Virginia, you may also make a personal injury claim against the driver that ran into the rear of you. In this claim you can claim, medical bills, full lost wages as well as other non-economic damages. However, if you make a recovery, the worker's compensation carrier is entitle to subrogate, or get back some of the money they paid for you in the workers compensation case. Specifically, they are entitled to get back the money they paid, less the percent of your recovery that went to attorney's fees and cost. Since generally the attorney's fee for representing you on the personal injury case is 1/3 of the recovery, the lien reduction is usually something over 33%.

It is important to understand that if you want to settle your personal injury case, you must have permission from your worker's compensation carrier or you can lose any future benefits that you may be entitled to.

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