These are terms frequently used in Virginia workers’ compensation cases. They are not legal advice. They’re meant to help you understand the legal terms.
Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA): This is a yearly increase that some injured workers are allowed if their benefits cross over into more than one year. The COLA must be requested by the injured worker on the appropriate FORM. The key date is October 1 – that’s when the yearly COLA takes place. Injured workers must have been getting benefits before July 1 of that year and their combined compensation and Social Security benefits should be less than 80% of pre-injury earnings.
Commission: This is the state agency for Virginia that runs the workers’ compensation program. It is a court system that decides when payments are required and in what amounts. It is run by three (3) people called Commissioners and one (1) Executive Director. It doesn’t act as an advocate for injured employees and doesn’t give legal advice, distribute money or schedule medical exams except it does help schedule Independent Medical Exams (IMEs).
Commissioners: The Virginia Worker’s Compensation Commission is run by three (3) Commissioners who are selected by the state General Assembly. Each Commissioner serves for six years. Beneath them are numerous Deputy Commissioners who hear all claims. If they are appealed, they are appealed to the 3 Commissioners, often referred to as the ‘Full Commission’.
Compensable Claim: These are claims that the Claims Administrator and/or Insurance Carrier agrees are valid or claims that the Commission finds are valid. They include injury and occupational illness claims that occurred during employment and that are covered under the state Workers’ Compensation Act.
Compensation Rate: This is the weekly amount of pay the injured worker is allowed. It is generally 2/3 of the pre-injury weekly gross average. You can take your Average Weekly Wage and multiply it times .66667 to get the precise figure.
Compromise Settlement: This is a lump sum settlement that pays for everything at one time. This includes the lost wages, past and future medical bills. It has to be approved or disapproved by a Deputy Commissioner. It’s also known as a Petition & Order.
Court of Appeals of Virginia: This is the judicial body that hears appeals from the Virginia Worker’s Compensation Commission and lower court decisions. It’s comprised of 11 judges.
Norfolk workers’ compensation lawyer Joe Miller at Joe Miller Law, Ltd., has over 25 years of experience helping injured workers pursue compensation for their injuries. He’ll explain that injured workers don’t have to prove that the employer caused the accident — they just have to show that they were an employee and that the injuries happened through a workplace accident or occupational illness. He’ll fight to get you a proper lost wage award and payment for your reasonable medical bills, including hospital and doctor visits plus payment for medications, medical tests, and medical equipment. In appropriate cases, he’ll argue for extra benefits because you have a permanent partial or full disability or because a family member was killed. Learn more by contacting Joe Miller Law, Ltd., at (888) 694-1671 today.