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Things You Should Know about Virginia Workers’ Compensation Law

Virginia Workers’ Compensation Law was born on March 21, 1918 and has evolved over the years. The law has three goals: 1) to provide employees that are injured on the job with compensation for medical bills for both treatment and recovery, 2) to provide the employee with an income during their recovery, and 3) to provide the employee with compensation for permanent disability. Workers’ Compensation is vital to American society. Statistics show that roughly 3.3 million people were injured on the job last year.

It doesn’t matter if a worker’s injuries are temporary or permanent; the employer is responsible for payment of medical care if the worker’s injuries are covered by law. The employer is also responsible for payment of compensation benefits if the worker is unable to return to their full duty position and suffers wage loss because of their disability.

Work injuries are a tremendous expense for employers and insurance carriers. All employers that regularly have three or more employees in service in Virginia are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.

Like with other types of insurance, unfortunately, employers and their insurance companies have a vested interest in minimizing the amount any single worker is paid for a claim. This is why employers and insurers will sometimes deny a claim or take steps to reduce the claim’s value, such as forcing prolonged litigation over seemingly minor issues to attempt to pressure the worker into giving up their claim or settling below full value. When this happens, a worker has two options – he can either give in to the pressure or he can take his case to court.

Here are some things you should know about Virginia Workers’ Compensation Law:

 

  • You are not required to hire an attorney to file and pursue a claim. But considering that the laws are complex and the procedural rules are strict, hiring a lawyer may be your best bet to obtain the best results.

 

  • Workers’ Compensation cases can be settled; however, all settlements have to be approved by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. Pain and suffering are not compensable. This is why workers’ compensation cases are usually not as valuable as personal injury cases. The settlement amount of the case is determined by future lost wages, future medical care costs, vocational rehabilitation costs, and permanent disability.

 

  • Workers’ compensation is usually your only option to claim monetary damages for a workplace injury. Generally, you cannot sue your employer for the injury. You may, however, have a products liability case if you are injured by a machine or a personal injury case if you are hit by a third-party driver.

 

  • You cannot be fired for filing a claim under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act. But you can be fired for not being able to perform your job due to your injury.

 

  • If the employer or the employer’s insurance company does not provide a panel of doctors to choose from for treatment within a reasonable amount of time after the accident, you have the right to choose your own treating physician. An experienced Virginia Workers’ Compensation attorney can lead you to the most claimant-friendly doctors.

 

  • In Virginia, you can continue to receive medical care and compensation benefits even after you have reached “maximum medical improvement.” The effect of having reached “maximum medical improvement” is that a physician can then give you an impairment rating for loss of use of the affected body part. Different parts of the body have different values and the compensation for the partial permanent disability will be awarded based on the statute Virginia has in place.

 

Battling your employer and its insurer for your Virginia Workers’ Compensation benefits is not an easy path to travel. Jenkins Block & Associates is here to help. We help employees in the time they need help the most.

 

by Corey Pollard

The Importance of Continuing to Treat With Your Physicians

Filing for Social Security Disability benefits is the start of the process, not the end. Here at Jenkins Block & Associates we make sure our clients understand that their job is not done just because they have filed a claim for disability benefits. One of the keys to winning your case and being awarded disability benefits is to continue to treat with your physicians, even after your claim is filed.

Our ultimate goal is to help you get the Social Security Disability benefits you deserve. This is done by (1) developing supportive evidence in your case and (2) advising you on decisions you can make to reduce any weaknesses that could allow the Social Security Administration (SSA) to deny your claim. By continuing to treat with your physicians, you are helping us meet this goal.

You might say, “But I don’t have insurance and going to the doctor is too expensive.” We understand this. We also understand that if you don’t have the right health insurance, it may be difficult to find a doctor that is willing to see you.  But our experience, unfortunately, is that the SSA will not accept this excuse. It will want to see that you have looked into free clinics and sought assistance from community organizations.

Jenkins, Block & Associates can help you with this. We have been helping disabled individuals in Maryland and Virginia get the benefits they deserve for years. We know the local organizations that can assist you and they know us. We work closely with these organizations to help you win your case.

Do the best you can to continue to treat for your medical condition. The more treatment you receive, the more evidence we can present in support of your case.  And remember, tell your doctor everything that is bothering you.

At Jenkins Block & Associates, we continue to fight for your benefits. Please contact us at (800) 243-7122 to see what we can do to help.

by Corey Pollard

New Senate Bill Proposes Reduced SSDI Benefits for Those Receiving Unemployment Benefits

On June 6, 2013, a bipartisan group of Senators introduced a bill that would reduce a person’s SSDI benefits for any month that they also received unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance, which has yet to schedule a hearing date.

“The Reducing Overlapping Payments Act,” says that any month a person is entitled to SSDI benefits and unemployment compensation, SSDI benefits for that month “shall be reduced to zero.” However, the bill does say that affected individuals need reasonable notice and an opportunity for a hearing.

Under the bill, receiving UI benefits would reduce SSDI benefits for the same month, but would not make individuals ineligible for SSDI benefits in later months. SSA’s long-standing policy has been that receiving UI benefits is a factor to be considered, but does not determine a claimant’s ability to perform substantial, gainful activity.

 

Information for this post provided by the NOSSCR issue Volume 35, Number 3 June 2013

For more information on NOSSCR visit www.nosscr.org

 

To find out more about how Jenkins & Block can help you, visit www.jenkinsblock.com

 

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SSA Denies Wounded Warrior Benefits

Unfortunately, the SSA continues to deny benefits for our Wounded Warrior clients who were proven disabled because of the income they receive from the government for their service. This continues even though SSA has a regulation (DI 10505.023) that allows those injured during active military duty to receive both disability benefits and military pay.

According to SSA’s website, “Active duty status and receipt of military pay does not, in itself, necessarily prevent payment of Social Security disability benefits. . . . If you are receiving treatment at a military medical facility and working in a designated therapy program or on limited duty, we will evaluate your work activity to determine your eligibility for benefits. . . . the actual work activity is the controlling factor and not the amount of pay you receive or your military duty status.”

SSA continues to harass those who have admirably served our country. JBA remains devoted to defending our Wounded Warriors to make sure they receive the benefits they deserve.

 

For more information on the Wounded Warrior program visit www.ssa.gov/woundedwarriors

To find out more about how Jenkins & Block can help you, visit www.jenkinsblock.com

 

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Social Security Hearing Offices National Ranking Report

The National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) recently ranked the nation’s Social Security Hearing offices’ average processing times from the date claimants file for hearings to the date their hearings are held. The Baltimore Hearing office ranked at #160 out of #165 with an average of 483 days (or 69 weeks). The Dover Hearing office placed right above Baltimore at #159 with 482 days and the Richmond office was on the lower half of the list at #126 with 431 days. Unlike these offices, the Shreveport Hearing office was #1 with an average of 236 days, almost half the time of the Baltimore office.

At Jenkins & Block, we continue to fight for your benefits – regardless of the amount of time it takes for Social Security to process your claim. Please contact us at (800) 243-7122 if you have any questions regarding your case.

For more information on NOSSCR visit www.nosscr.org

To find out more about how Jenkins & Block can help you, visit www.jenkinsblock.com

Like us on Facebook @ www.facebook.com/jenkinsblock

Follow us on Twitter @ twitter.com/JenkinsBlock

Happy with our services? Leave us a review on Google @ https://plus.google.com/114589780802105227387/about?rfmt=s&hl=en&gl=us

Ten Steps You Can Take to Strengthen Your Virginia Workers’ Compensation Case

Dealing with the physical toll of a work injury is tough, but it is often the least stressful part of a workers’ compensation claim. Insurance companies, with an increasing focus on their bottom line, will search for mistakes you have made so that they can deny your claim or delay the payment of benefits you are owed. A delay in benefits when you are already under financial stress because of having been injured at work may cause you to settle your claim for less than what it is worth. Below is a list of ten steps you can take to strengthen your workers’ compensation case and increase its value:

1. Report the accident to your supervisor or the appropriate employer-designated representative as soon as it happens, even if you think it is a minor injury. A delay in reporting the injury will raise a red flag and may lead to the insurance company denying your claim so that it can investigate the accident – leading to a delay in payment of your benefits. Also, injuries to the back and knee that seem minor at first may fail to heal properly or involve underlying structural damage to your body that requires surgical intervention and pain management.

2. Contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer immediately and do not rely on your employer to give you accurate information regarding workers’ compensation laws. These laws require specific knowledge that many employers may not have, and your employer may unknowingly give you inaccurate information that can compromise your claim.

3. Recognize that the claims’ adjuster is not on your side and prepare before giving him or her a recorded statement. Claims’ adjusters are highly trained and the questions they ask during your recorded statement are usually designed to find a way to deny your claim.

4. Always tell the truth and do not exaggerate when describing your accident or your symptoms. Many workers’ compensation claims, especially those involving unwitnessed accidents, come down to credibility. Do not give the claims’ adjuster, your treating physician, or the Commission any reason to doubt your credibility.

5. Do not perform work in excess of the restrictions given by your doctor. Doing so is a good way to get injured. If you are injured as a result of working in excess of your doctor’s restrictions, then the insurance company may be able to deny further treatment and compensation benefits based on your failure to comply with the restrictions.

6. If you continue to receive work restrictions from your doctor, then make sure you have a follow-up appointment scheduled. Even if you find a job that is within your given restrictions, you should have a follow-up appointment scheduled in the event your condition worsens as a result of the light duty work.

7. Keep track of the number of miles you drive to authorized doctors’ appointments, as well as the money you spend on authorized prescriptions and co-pays for doctors’ visits. You are typically entitled to reimbursement for mileage, prescription expenses, and co-pays. These expenses can add up and every little bit helps when you are out of work or receiving reduced compensation.

8. If you are released to return to work with restrictions, then look for work and keep track of your efforts. Under most, if not all, workers’ compensation systems, you have a duty to market your residual work capacity. Failure to do so may lead to a denial of benefits.

9. Cooperate with your vocational rehabilitation counselor. Even if you do not think you will be hired to perform any of the jobs that your counselor asks you to apply to, apply anyway. Your continued cooperation is what is necessary to continue receiving benefits, not a successful job search.

10. Consider the potential cost of future medical treatment before agreeing to settle your claim. While it may be nice to receive a large lump sum check, that money can quickly disappear if you do not take steps to ensure that the settlement covers your future medical treatment or is at least large enough to cover future medical expenses. One back or knee surgery can cost many thousands of dollars.

An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you evaluate settlement offers and determine what type of settlement is best for your situation.
– Corey R. Pollard

Contact our Richmond office at (804) 788-4311 or at 1-800-437-4311

To find out more about how Jenkins & Block can help you visit www.jenkinsblock.com

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Baltimore Sun Reports How SSA Awards Jenkins & Block Client $206,000

After a nine-year struggle, the Social Security Administration has awarded our client, James Nicholas, more than $206,000 in disability benefits. In the Oct. 28 issue of the Baltimore Sun, Yvonne Wenger investigates the long wait many Americans go through while fighting for benefits after they become too disabled to work.

In the article, Nicholas’s wife, Yvonne, describes how it became a life or death issue: “‘This is how the system works: Usually, people give up or they die,’ Yvonne Nicholas said. ‘I wasn’t going to let that happen.’”

The article goes on to explain our firm’s involvement: “After 30 years spent practicing law, Block said that Nicholas’ back-benefits award is one of the largest he’s seen. Many of his clients die waiting for the Social Security Administration to issue a decision, Block said.”

Jenkins & Block is proud to have helped Mr. Nicholas get the benefits he deserved.

To read the entire article visit http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/sun-investigates/bs-md-social-security-awards-20121027,0,1626666,full.story

To find out more about how Jenkins & Block can help you visit www.jenkinsblock.com

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Meet Our New Associate Attorney, Corey Pollard

Jenkins Block & Associates Senior Partners Bruce D. Block and W. James Nicoll are pleased to welcome Associate Attorney Corey R. Pollard to the firm. Mr. Pollard practices in our Richmond office where he specializes in Social Security Disability and Virginia Workers’ Compensation matters.

Mr. Pollard holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of William & Mary, where he graduated cum laude. He earned his law degree cum laude from the University of Richmond. While there, he was a member of the Client Counseling & Negotiation Board, the Journal of Law and the Public Interest, and the Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot team. He also placed first in the school’s annual Merhige Environmental Negotiation Competition and received a CALI Excellence for the Future Award for achieving the highest grade in the school’s International Business Transactions class. Mr. Pollard has extensive experience in all aspects of workers’ compensation litigation, both at the administrative hearing level and the appellate stage, and has handled numerous claims involving medical issues relating to injury and disability. He has also handled state and federal litigation in all varieties of commercial matters.

Social Security Compassionate Allowances Expanded

Compassionate Allowances (CAL) is a way for Social Security to quickly identify applicants who should be provided with benefits because of a serious medical condition(s). Social Security has recently updated its CAL list to include 52 additional conditions. The list now contains 165 conditions complied through public outreach hearings, comments from Social Security Disability Determination Service communities, medical and scientific experts, and research from the National Institutes of Health. Below are the additional CAL conditions that are effective as of August 11, 2012:

• Aicardi-Goutieres Syndrome
• Alobar Holoprosencephaly
• Alpers Disease
• Alpha Mannosidosis – Type II and III
• Carcinoma of Unknown Primary Site
• Cerebrotendinous Xanthomatosis
• Child Neuroblastoma – with distant metastases or recurrent
• Child Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma – recurrent
• Chondrosarcoma – with multimodal therapy
• Cornelia de Lange Syndrome-Classic Form
• Ewing Sarcoma
• Follicular Dendritic Cell Sarcoma – metastatic or recurrent
• Fucosidosis – Type 1
• Galactosialidosis – Early and Late Infantile Types
• Glioma Grade III and IV
• Hepatoblastoma
• Histiocytosis Syndromes
• Hutchinson – Gilford Progeria Syndrome
• Hydranencephaly
• Hypocomplementemic Urticarial Vasculitis Syndrome
• Hypophosphatasia Perinatal (Lethal) and Infantile Onset Types
• I Cell disease
• Infantile Free Sialic Acid Storage Disease
• Juvenile Onset Huntington Disease
• Kufs Disease Type A and B
• Lissencephaly
• Lymphomatoid Granulomatosis – Grade III
• Malignant Brain Stem Gliomas – Childhood
• Malignant Melanoma – with metastases
• Mastocytosis Type IV
• Medulloblastoma – with metastases
• Merkel Cell Carcinoma – with metastases
• Myoclonic Epilepsy with Ragged Red Fibers Syndrome
• Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis
• Neurodegeneration with Brain Iron Accumulation – Type 1 and Type 2
• Obliterative Bronchiolitis
• Ohtahara Syndrome
• Orthochromatic Leukodystrophy with Pigmented Glia
• Pearson Syndrome
• Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease – Classic Form
• Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease – Connatal Form
• Peripheral Nerve Cancer – metastatic or recurrent
• Perry Syndrome
• Rhabdomyosarcoma
• Rhizomelic Chondrodysplasia Punctata
• Schindler Disease Type 1
• Smith Lemli Opitz Syndrome
• Spinal Nerve Root Cancer – metastatic or recurrent
• Stiff Person Syndrome
• Tabes Dorsalis
• Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome
• Xeroderma Pigmentosum

Information for this post is from www.socialsecurity.gov. For a complete list of Compassionate Allowances visit www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances/
If you or your dependents are affected by a CAL condition, apply for disability at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability/ and then give us a call at (800) 243-2439 to see if we can help you win your case.

To find out more information about Social Security and other types of cases:
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Hooters Waitress Contracts Tuberculosis – JBA Wins Workers Compensation Award

Jenkins Block & Associates represented Jherri Stratton of Baltimore in a recent prominent Workers’ Compensation case. Stratton was diagnosed with active tuberculosis in November while employed as a waitress at Hooters. For months, the JBA team was going back and forth with the insurance company in an effort to win Stratton the Workers’ Compensation benefits she is entitled to. The insurance company finally agreed that this was in fact a compensable claim and is now paying her Workers’ Compensation benefits. Jherri was quoted in the Baltimore Sun saying, “’It feels like a weight lifted off my shoulders because it’s finally someone acknowledging that this isn’t my fault.’” (June 8, 2012) The JBA team is happy to represent Jherri Stratton in her Workers’ Compensation claim.

For more details on this or similar cases visit us at http://www.facebook.com/jenkinsblock.