Saturday, November 29, 2014

Virginia arm injury on the job or was it a neck injury?

In Virginia I often see an injury on the job that is diagnosed as an arm injury. Later it turns out it was really a neck injury or there was a neck injury in addition to the arm injury. A late discovery of a neck injury in addition to the arm injury can be a problem if the neck injury is never added to the claim within two (2) years of the date of accident.

If the original claim only contains an award for an arm injury, then a claim for a neck injury will probably be lost if it is not added within two (2) years of the date of accident. The usual rule followed by the Virginia Workers' Compensarion is that an award for just "an arm" does not include an award for a different part of the body such as a "neck" when there is no mention of the neck on the award.

Thus, if a worker has a complicated arm neck injury, he or she should consult a lawyer right away to make sure he or she has an award for both the neck and the arm. An award for one part of the body will not include other parts not mentioned in the award.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: contact Jerry Lutkenhaus at (804) 358-4766 or toll free at 1(800) 256-8862 or visit our website at Virginia Workers' Compensation Lawyer.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

What is filing a workers' compensation claim in Virginia?

If an injured employee contacts the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission after an injury, he or she may be informed that the employee can "file a claim for the injury" and the Commission will mail the employee the form or it can be filed on-line.

The Virginia form contains a Part A and a Part B. Part A asks for the information about the accident. Part B asks what benefits the employee is seeking.

Under Virginia workers' compensation law "a claim" must be filed with the Commission within two (2) years of the date of the accident or the claim will be time-barred.

In a recent case the injured employee only filed Part A within the two (2) year time period. Later the employee asked for wage compensation for a period within the first two (2) years. The insurance company defended stating the employee had not filed Part B of the claim form asking for wage compensation within two (2) years of the accident. The Virginia Court of Appeals disagreed with the insurance company holding filing Part A within the two (2) time limit was enough to constitute filing a claim.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: contact Jerry Lutkenhaus at (804) 358-4766 or at 1(800)-256-8862 (toll-free) or visit our website at Virginia Workers' Compensation Lawyer.

Injury at work in Virginia: is falling on a staircase covered?

A common injury at the work-place is falling on a staircase or on steps. Will workers' compensation insurance cover this injury in Virginia?

Virginia follows the "actual risk" rule. This means a risk in the work environment must cause the injury. So, as a practical matter falling on a staircase or steps may fail as a claim in Virginia if there is nothing wrong with the steps. Some things that could make this claim compensable are as follows:

1.  If the staircase is poorly lit or if a light is out this can be a "risk" of the employment.

2.  If the steps are slippery or wet, this can be a "risk" of the employment.

3.  If the worker was bumped by a fellow employee on the steps this could be a "risk" of the employment.

4.  If the steps are unusual in any way regarding width or length, this could be a risk of the employment.

5.  If the employee was encumbered by packages or other items while on the steps this could be a "risk" of the employment.

6.  If an office emergency caused the employee to rush down or up the stairs, this could be a "risk" of the employment.

In summary, even though the insurance company denies coverage for the staircase fall, the employee should check with an experienced Virginia workers' compensation attorney to find out if there is coverage under one of the exceptions listed above. The employee in a staircase accident is often asked to give a recorded statement to the claims adjuster. This is dangerous. Often, the injured employee will make the following statement: "I fell and it happened so fast so I don't know what happened." This could be fatal to a claim. Call an attorney as soon as possible.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: contact Jerry Lutkenhaus at 804-358-4766 or 800-256-8862 (toll-free) or check our website at Virginia Workers' Compensation Lawyer.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Social Security Disability Lawyer -- Tell Your Lawyer the Truth

Your Social Security Lawyer cannot represent you successfully if you do not tell him or her the truth. I had a recent case involving this issue. I had a client who I will call John Doe. He was an auto repair man with some severe disabilities. He needed hip replacements and bilateral knee replacements. He could barely walk. Operations were scheduled. We had a hearing in front of the judge. John Doe under oath said he had not worked in two years. Shortly after the hearing the judge sent me a fraud investigation report. The report indicated John Doe was accepting occasional odd jobs at a repair shop even though he claimed to be a "disabled" worker.

Social Security follows the concept that you are not really working unless you are making more than $1,000 a month. It is possible John Doe's odd jobs did not amount to $1,000 a month and thus did not result in disqualifying substantial gainful activity (SGA).

However, John Doe did not tell me about his odd jobs prior to the hearing. Instead, he testified under oath he had not worked in two years. Thus, I feel sure the judge will find John Doe not credible about his disability even though he does need many operations. If John Doe would only have been truthful we probably could have explained the "odd jobs" he did while waiting for his disability hearing.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: contact Jerry Lutkenhaus at 804-358-4766 or 800-256-8862 or visit our website atVirginia Disability Lawyer.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Injury on the Job in Virginia? Sign the Agreement for an Award right away!



In my opinion which was confirmed in a recent seminar, the injured worker should sign and return the Agreement for an Award form as soon as he/she receives it and return it to the claims adjuster for filing with the Commission.

If the insurance company accepts your injury in Virginia, the carrier is required to send the injured worker a form called the Agreement for an Award. This paper will spell out the injury that is covered, the compensation rate, the period that is being paid, and that lifetime medical care for that injury is being awarded. After both the worker and the claims adjuster sign the Agreement form, the carrier will normally forward it on to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission and an award will be entered.

At a recent workers’ compensation seminar provided by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission, a Commissioner explained labeling an injury a ‘back strain” will usually cover all injuries to the back such as herniated discs. However, to be safe it doesn’t hurt to file for an amendment to the award and add such additional body parts.

Also, the Commissioner pointed out recent case law confirmed signing an agreement for one body part does not preclude one from filing later to add additional body parts as long as the new claim is filed within two (2) years of the date of the accident.

On the other hand, the Commissioner if a claim is litigated then this litigation may preclude the worker from adding additional body parts if those claims are not specifically reserved in the litigation. Thus, the Agreement for an Award does not have the same preclusive effect as does a litigated case.

The rationale is Agreements for an Award and favored by the Commission as part of its administrative function. Agreements are not to be used as “traps” by carriers to foreclose claimants from their truly meritorious claims. So, injured workers sign those Agreements and mail them back to the claims adjusters.

However, if you don't quickly receive an Award from the Commission, you can always file a claim for your injury within two (2) years of your accident with the Commission.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: contact Jerry Lutkenhaus at (804) 358-4766 or (800) 256-8862 or visit our website at Virginia Workers Compensation Lawyer.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Virginia Workers’ Compensation Attorney Advanced Retreat




Recently, I attended the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Attorney Advanced Law seminar in Richmond, Virginia. The meeting was highlighted by Dr. Nathan’s Zasler’s talk on mild to moderate brain injuries (TBI). In addition, one discussion highlighted all new case developments and law changes in Virginia Workers’ Compensation Law in the last year. One session focused on case developments regarding the “unexplained accident” which is always a problem. There was also a presentation about the interaction between Medicare and workers compensation in Virginia especially regarding settlements.

The session once again proves in order to practice effective workers’ compensation law in Virginia you have to be on top of all new developments in the law or in case law.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: contact Jerry Lutkenhaus at (804)358-4766 or (800) 256-8862 or visit our website at Virginia Workers' Compensation Lawyer.

Scholarships for the Children of Injured Workers in Virginia

In Virignia there is great news for the children of workers who have suffered a fatal or job ending injury. An organization was formed in 2011 to provide scholarships for these children. The scholarships are available for both colleges and trade schools.

The organization is Kid's Chance of Virginia or KCVA. It is a 501c3 non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to fund scholarships for these needy children.


For more information visit their website at Kids Chance of Virginia. You can either apply for a scholarship or make a donation to this worthy cause.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: contact Jerry Lutkenhaus at (804) 358-4766 or (800) 256-8862 or visit our website at Virignia Workers' Compensation Lawyer.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Questionable Virginia Worker's Compensation Injury

An injury at work is not always obvious. Some real life examples:

You scratch yourself at work and shrug it off. IS THIS A WC INJURY AND SHOULD YOU REPORT IT?

You load a truck with boxes. On the 25th box you feel a pull in your back and continue working. IS THIS A WC INJURY AND SHOULD YOU REPORT IT?

You reach up and behind you and pull something off the wall for a customer and snap something in your shoulder and finish the work day. IS THIS A WC INJURY AND SHOULD YOU REPORT IT?

You have had a bad back for years. You lift a widget at work and you experience new back pain. IS THIS A WC INJURY AND SHOULD YOU REPORT IT?

You walk down the back steps at work and stumble and fall due to the poor lighting. IS THIS A WC INJURY AND SHOULD YOU REPORT IT?

Your fellow worker disagrees with a work assignment you gave him and starts a fight and hits you. IS THIS A WC INJURY AND SHOULD YOU REPORT IT?

You are rushing to work and slip on wet pavement before you arrive at work and fall. IS THIS A WC INJURY AND SHOULD YOU REPORT IT?

In summary, these are real life examples from cases I have had where the claimant was injured at work and did immediately report the injury. So, the insurer denied the claim and the claimant sought my representation. A clear immediate report to the employer and an immediate trip to a doctor may have spent immediate acceptance of the injury.

For more information: contact Jerry Lutkenhaus at (804) 358-4766 or (800)256-8862 or visit our website at Virginia Workers' Compensation Worker