Virginia Workers' Compensation Benefits Process

How to Apply for Virginia Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Important: We updated this article in April 2024 to ensure the information below is correct. Unless you’re a federal employee, state law outlines who gets Virginia workers’ compensation benefits and how the process works. If you were injured or got sick on the job in the Commonwealth, you should focus on getting better, not stressing about the claims process.

We’ve gathered the information you need to get the benefits you deserve.

What Employees Have Virginia Workers’ Compensation Coverage?

Commonwealth employers with at least two employees must have Virginia workers’ compensation insurance coverage. State law defines any of the following as a covered “employee” for workers’ comp insurance:

  • Part-time workers
  • Seasonal and temporary workers
  • Minors
  • Trainees
  • Immigrants
  • Working family members
  • Members of the Virginia National Guard and Defense Force, and the United States Civil Defense Corps of the Commonwealth
  • Sub-contractors

Who Is Generally Exempt from Workers’ Compensation Insurance Coverage?

In general, these employees are automatically exempt from workers’ comp insurance coverage in the state of Virginia:

  • Federal employees
  • Sole proprietors that do not employ subcontractors or other workers regularly
  • Volunteers

Filing for Virginia Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Important: Seek medical treatment immediately only if you require emergency or urgent care for an injury or illness. Tell the doctor your injury or illness is work-related. Medical evidence is key for a successful workers’ comp case, so you will not get benefits unless you see an authorized doctor.

Every workers’ comp case is different, so your experience may vary. According to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission, follow these steps to file for benefits:

1. Report your workplace injury or illness to your employer in writing within 30 days.

This is required by law. Caution: Missing this deadline could make you lose your right to claim any benefits.

How to select a workers' comp doctor in Virginia

2. Select a doctor from a list of healthcare providers authorized by your employer’s insurance carrier before you seek medical care.

Ask your employer if they have a list of 3 doctors you’re permitted to see before you get medical treatment. If no such list exists, then you can see any doctor you like to treat your on-the-job injury or occupational illness. But if an unauthorized healthcare provider treats you, you may have to pay those medical expenses yourself.

3. Complete a Claim for Benefits Form and file it directly with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission.

Caution: You must file a claim with the Commission within two years of your accident or illness diagnosis date.

4. Get a Jurisdiction Claim Number and PIN from the VWC.

Use these to check your claim status online at any time.

5. Wait for your employer’s insurance provider to approve or deny your claim.

In most cases, the insurance provider must make a decision within 10 days.

6. If you’re denied payments, you’re entitled to file an appeal.

Request an evidentiary (or “on-the-record”) hearing with the VWC in writing to resolve any disputes. If your first appeal is denied, you have 20 days to request another review. In total, Virginia offers 4 appeal levels for resolving disputes between employers and injured workers.

Learn more about the Virginia workers’ compensation process at the VWC’s Injured Worker FAQs here.

Receiving Virginia Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Injured workers may qualify for:

  • Lifetime medical benefits to pay for medical treatment and expenses now and in the future.
  • Payment or reimbursement for medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses such as prescriptions and mileage, vocational rehab, and other costs.

These wage loss benefits must be authorized by a healthcare professional for no more than 500 weeks total:

  • Temporary total disability provides you with partial wage loss payments while you’re completely out of work. Insurance will pay 66 2/3% of your gross average weekly wage (AWW), subject to the state’s maximum and minimum benefit limits.
  • Temporary partial disability benefits pays you for a percentage of your wages lost while partially out of work or on light duty.
  • Permanent partial disability provides compensation for amputation, disfigurement/bodily scarring, lung disease, or loss of a body part, hearing, or vision.

Important: Survivors of a deceased employee may be eligible for up to $10,000 in burial and funeral expenses as well as $1,000 for transportation costs. They may also receive workers’ compensation benefits in the form of TTD payments for no more than 500 weeks.

Learn more about workers’ comp benefits.

Understanding Virginia Workers’ Comp Trends

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics issues an annual workers’ compensation report covering most U.S. states and territories. Here’s what the data from employers show about the Old Dominion’s claims activity from 2018 to 2022:

Since falling to historic lows in 2020, total claims filed grew 16% in 2022. The number of service industry claims grew at a slightly higher pace, increasing 21.5%, on average, over that period. The rate of employees who missed work, transferred or received restrictions also rose 15% from 2020 to 2022.

How to Qualify for Free Expert Help

Working with a workers’ comp lawyer can make the process both easier and faster. All Virginia workers’ compensation attorneys also work on contingency. That means they don’t charge anything unless your claim win. If you do win, then you only pay one reasonable fee after you receive a settlement.

Want to speak with a nearby expert for free about your claim? Click the button below to start your free online benefits quiz and see if you may qualify:

Get Your Free Benefits Evaluation

Margot Lester is the CEO of The Word Factory, a B2B & B2C content marketing agency that provides services for Fortune 100 brands, healthtech companies and SaaS developers. An award-winning business and brand journalist, she writes for daily and weekly newspapers and business journals, national magazines, in-flight publications and leading websites. Margot is also an in-demand writing coach and organizational communications trainer, helping individuals and teams write more effectively. Twitter/X: @word_factory LinkedIn: