Virginia’s injured workers are being short-changed every day

Is it any wonder that Virginia was rated number 1 for business by Forbes Magazine? The Dean of the Workers Compensation bar, Professor Larson, said that compensation was supposed to be “a quick administrative medical bill payment and partial wage replacement system.” It was not supposed to be litigious or one-sided.

Until recently, the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission (“VWCC”) had a schedule of perquisites. This gave a standard value to such things as uniforms, rental housing, water, telephone, laundry, etc. The Commission furthermore described those things that could be included in the injured workers average weekly wage. The pre-injury average weekly wage is then used to determine all the subsequent compensation rates for the duration of the claim. The VWCC does not look prospectively at an employee’s wages, but only retrospectively. The Commission goes back up to 52 weeks, adds them up, and takes the average. The government’s wage chart and accident report forms also ask about such fringe benefits as uniforms, meals, etc., but carriers and employers rarely enter this information. The Commission appears impotent to enforce accurate reporting in its Accident Reports and Wage Charts. While there is a penalty for the late filing of an initial accident report, many are filed with bare bones information. Employees are asked to sign the Commission’s Agreement forms upon which faulty Awards are routinely entered, to the injured workers’ detriment.

A solution for this problem is to have enforcement of the Commission’s own policies and procedures. When Accident Reports and Wage Charts are filed without the basic facts upon which to determine the wage and compensation rates, then there needs to be a penalty, rather than delay, which only benefits the employers, insurers and third party administrators. Claimant’s counsel should routinely request copies of actual pay stubs, which will list things that are rarely included by the insurance companies on the Commission’s forms. These include:

a. Overtime
b. Bonuses
c. Holiday or Shift Differential
d. Uniforms

Under Virginia law, workers compensation benefits are:

A. limited to 500 weeks;
B. have a maximum rate such that high wage earners do not get the expected 2/3rds of their pre-injury pay rate;
C. do not include other employment unless it is the same or similar to the job where they were hurt; and
D. do not take into account future raises, bonuses, awards for performance and longevity, etc.

Insurance carriers routinely send injured workers Agreement forms based only upon their straight time, with nothing else, such that Award Orders entered by the unwitting VWC short change Virginia workers millions of dollars every year. DOUG LANDAU AND THE TEAM AT ABRAMS LANDAU, LTD. IN HERNDON, VIRGINIA ROUTINLY CORRECT THESE FORMS, so that the clients of the LANDAU LAW SHOP get the maximum compensation allowed by law for their individual claims. Before you sign any forms sent to you by a workers compensation insurance company, have an experienced lawyer explain them to you. You could be signing away your legal rights to thousands of dollars. Call ABRAMS LANDAU today.

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