NEVER EVER take someone’s word that your injury will be covered!

October 2, 2014 by · Comments Off
Filed under: Uncategorized 

I always get concerned when injured workers tell me that their employer (or the insurance carrier) has made them all these promises that they will be taken care of after a work injury.  In fact, I had an injured worker call me today who had an injury several years ago; for conversation sake, we will call him Mark.

 

Mark was injured in January of 2012 and because his employer told him his medical bills would be taken care of because he was injured at work, Mark did not pursue anything further.  For the first 2 years, Mark’s medical bills were paid so he didn’t have any worries, but fast forward to August of 2014 and now Mark is having medical problems related to the work injury and now, whenever he goes to the doctor he is getting the unpaid bills in the mail.  He called the employer about this and his employer directed him to the insurance carrier for the workers’ compensation claim.  The insurance carrier told Mark that he did not have LIFETIME MEDICAL BENEFITS so they no longer had to pay for his treatment.  Mark is now having to pay for his treatment because there is nothing in writing from the state of Virginia dictating that the insurance carrier is responsible for his injuries.Emergency Room Bed

 

The sad truth is, Mark missed the 2 year deadline in Virginia (also called the Statute of Limitations) to file with the Commission and now he can never undo this mistake.

 

This is exactly why I tell injured workers that filing their Claim for Benefits form and asking for LIFETIME MEDICAL BENEFITS is so so so very important.

 

What Mark should have done:

He should have filed his Claim for Benefits form and asked for his lifetime medical benefits.  If this had been done within the two year time limit, Mark could still be going to the doctor and getting treatment covered by the insurance carrier.

 

If you would like more information on theVirginia Workers’ Compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

 

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

Sexual harassment at work does not entitle you to a Workers’ Compensation Claim

September 30, 2014 by · Comments Off
Filed under: Uncategorized 

I sometimes get calls from workers who have been the victim of sexual harassment in the work place and they want to know if this would entitle them to a workers’ compensation claim.  The answer is NO.  With sexual harassment there is no physical injury and the state of Virginia has gone as far as listing a code section in the Virginia Code (65.2-301) that specifically excludes victims of sexual harassment as being eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.  However, if you are sexually assaulted while doing your job, you could receive Virginia Workers’ Compensation benefits because a physical assault took place. woman stop

 

If you have been the victim of a sexual assault at work, have questions about whether or not your situation meets the requirements for benefits in Virginia or if you would like more information on theVirginia Workers’ Compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

 

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

The VWCC sets new fines for employers who don’t carry workers’ compensation insurance

September 25, 2014 by · Comments Off
Filed under: Uncategorized 

I’m pleased to announce that the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission has Gavel & Legal Bookfinally made some updates to their rules and guidelines when in comes to uninsured employers.  The new fees and regulations read:

 

“The law change amends section 65.2-805 of the Workers’ Compensation Act which addresses the civil penalty for employer failure to insure. Such employer shall be assessed a civil penalty of not more than $250 per day for each day of noncompliance, subject to a maximum penalty of $50,000, plus collection costs. The amendment was approved March 7, 2014 and will be effective on July 1, 2014.”  Source:  http://www.vwc.state.va.us/content/special-notice-new-penalty-uninsured-employers

 

Hopefully these new, steeper fines will encourage more employers to make sure their employees are covered by the appropriate workers’ compensation insurance!

 

If you would like more information on theVirginia Workers’ Compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

 

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

Who is this stranger at my doctor’s appointment?

September 23, 2014 by · Comments Off
Filed under: Uncategorized 

Often times, insurance companies will hire a Nurse Case Manager (I use the abbreviation NCM) to attend an injured worker’s doctor’s appointments.  While some  NCMs will be kind and call the injured worker to let them know that they have been assigned to the case and will be attending their next doctor’s appointment, others will Case Manager Woman-with-Clipboardjust show up to an appointment and surprise the injured worker.  If a Nurse Case Manager is assigned to monitor your care, there are some things you need to be aware of (like the fact that you have the right to a private examination!).

 

If you have questions about how to deal with a Nurse Case Manager, or if you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

 

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

My Employer called and said I need to come to work but my doctor told me to stay out of work – What do I do?

September 18, 2014 by · Comments Off
Filed under: Uncategorized 

Sometimes when your workers’ compensation doctor has you out of work, the employer, adjuster or the nurse case manager (NCM) will contact the doctor who has you off of work and convince him to let you work a light duty job; sadly this often happens without the injured worker knowing anything about it!  cartoon nurseIf your doctor has given you a note that says you are not to be working and then you get a call about returning to work, you need to contact your doctor IMMEDIATELY!  You need to contact the doctor to get some clarity on what your true work status really is. If the doctor has changed your out of work note to now read as a light duty release (this does happen often), you need to get a copy of this so you have a full understanding of what it is you can and can’t do and if you are to return to work at a light duty status.  The other reason to contact the doctor immediately is because if you truly have been given a light duty release and do not return to work, your benefits could be terminated and you could lose your job for job abandonment – this is a HUGE mess for injured workers and should be avoided if at all possible!

 

If you have questions about your benefits or if you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

 

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

Do NOT let Adjusters, Case Managers or Vocational Counselors into your home!

September 16, 2014 by · Comments Off
Filed under: Uncategorized 

I’ve talked to several injured workers lately who have mentioned to me that either a case manager, vocational counselor or adjuster has come to their home recently to talk about their case.  Listen up folks – don’t let people who work for the insurance company into your home!  This puts injured workers in a vulnerable position by letting an employee of the insurance company into their private residence to poke around.  By “poke around” I mean:

 

Is that a stroller?

Is there a young child around who needs to be cared for or picked up?

What about that weight set in the corner?  Are you working out?

Who uses those golf clubs? insurance-companies

 

All these things can lead to ASSUMPTIONS that could potentially lead to problems down the road for someone seeking benefits.

 

My point is – even things that seem harmless could spark a conversation or hint at something that was not intended so you need to be extra careful!  I always tell people that when things are left to chance, chances are the insurance company will lean towards whatever is financially beneficial for them – not the injured worker!

 

If you are going to be meeting with someone from the insurance company or anyone working on your claim, I always recommend a public place (restaurant, library, park – pretty much anywhere but your home).

 

If you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

 

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

 

 

 

My employer won’t let me come to work while I’m on light duty – what do I do?

September 11, 2014 by · Comments Off
Filed under: Uncategorized 

First of all, if your employer won’t let you come to work on light duty, don’t take it personally.  Many employers out there simply don’t offer light duty work and others may have some light duty work but it may only be sporadic.  Your job as the injured worker is to communicate with your employer about this and keep them informed of your work status, even if your employer says they don’t offer light duty work, call and check in every so often and let them know you are willing to work if they provide you 22880-injured-worker-helpingwith tasks that your doctor says are appropriate (and ALWAYS keep track of these communications!).  If you are not able to work for your employer while you are on light duty, you may need to be marketing (looking for light duty work) – this can be a complicated scenario so if you find yourself in this position, it is best to consult with an attorney to ensure you are taking all the necessary steps that are required of you, the injured worker.

 

If you have questions about your responsibilities as an injured worker or if you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

 

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

Temporary Partial Disability benefits (TPD) are NOT automatic!

September 9, 2014 by · Comments Off
Filed under: Uncategorized 

Temporary Partial Disability benefits, or TPD, are wages paid to an injured worker when they are working under light duty restrictions from their doctor and earning less than their pre-injury average weekly wage.  However, these benefits are not automatic (unless there is an award order)  The injured worker has to send their money bagcheck stubs in to the insurance adjuster or their attorney (depending on their 100 Dollar Billsmoney bagmoney bagsituation) and the insurance company can then calculate the difference in wages owed (based on gross earnings) and the average weekly wage. Then, the adjuster will cut a check to the injured worker for 2/3rds  of the difference.  The trick here is for the injured worker to know that they have to send in their pay stubs to prove that they are earning less than the average weekly wage.  I have had a lot of people ask me when they are going to be compensated for the difference in pay but they have not submitted their pay stubs because they did not realize that they were required to do so.  If you don’t send in your pay stubs, you won’t get paid – like everything else, the insurance company is not going to take your word that you are making less – you must prove it by providing your pay stub.

 

If you have questions about how lost wages are paid, or if you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today(804) 755-7755.

 

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

Being an advocate for injured workers is what makes the difference!

September 4, 2014 by · Comments Off
Filed under: Uncategorized 

Being advocates for injured workers is what makes a huge difference between the Injured Workers’ Law Firm and any other run of the mill attorney’s office.  My goal is to help all injured workers, even if you don’t need to hire an attorney.  I have seen first-hand how big insurance companies can take advantage of people after they have been hurt and it has got to stop!  I may not have the power to change the laws and close the loopholes the insurance companies operate within to put the squeeze on injured workers; but I can and will arm people with information to help guide them through this complicated system. knowledge-is-power

 

If you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

 

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

What is Mediation?

September 2, 2014 by · Comments Off
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Mediation is a way of resolving conflict in a claim without going through the formal court process.  The injured worker, insurance carrier and their representatives can all sit down and discuss the facts of the case and what it might take to make both parties agreeable to an outcome.  It is a way for the insurance company and the injured worker to try and reach an agreement about benefits or settlement without a Deputy Commissioner (workers’ compensation judge) determining the outcome.  Mediation can be a great thing for injured workers because it is overseen by an impartial 3rd party, is voluntary and in most cases is faster than going to court.  If the parties cannot reach an amenable agreement, they still have the option to pursue their argument through the court process.

conference

If you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

 

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

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