Virginia workers' compensation benefits

How to Apply for Virginia Workers’ Compensation Benefits

All Virginia workers’ compensation claims get processed at the state level for non-federal employees. If you get ill or hurt on the job, follow the steps listed below to apply for benefits. We’ll also explore how the Virginia workers’ compensation program changed from 2012 to 2016.

Does My Employer Have Workers’ Comp Coverage?

Any business with at least two employees must carry Virginia workers’ compensation insurance. State law defines “employees” as:

  • Part-time workers
  • Seasonal workers
  • Temporary workers
  • Minors
  • Trainees
  • Immigrants
  • Working family members

Related: How to Apply for Washington Workers’ Compensation Benefits

How to File Your Virginia Workers’ Compensation Claim

According to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission, follow the steps below to file your claim:

  1. State law requires you to report your workplace illness or injury to your employer in writing within 30 days. If you don’t report it within two years, you may forfeit your right to workers’ comp benefits.
  2. Select a doctor to treat you from the panel of three provided by your employer or their insurance provider. If you sought emergency medical care, complete Form 5, Claim for Benefits Form.
  3. To get your claim started, you must file your completed Form 5 directly with the VWC. Once the VWC receives that form, they’ll assign a Jurisdiction Claim Number (JCN) and PIN for WebFile. You can use these numbers in order to check your claim status online anytime.
  4. Your employer’s insurer must promptly decide whether to approve or deny your workers’ comp claim. In most cases, you’ll learn whether your claim’s approved or denied within 10 days.
  5. If your claim’s denied, you can appeal by requesting an evidentiary (or “on-the-record”) hearing with the VWC in writing. The VWC will schedule your hearing and notify you to appear at a designated location, time and date. To speak with the VWC directly about appealing your denial instead, call 1-877-664-2566.
  6. You have 20 days to appeal a second time if you disagree with the written hearing opinion. There are four total appeal levels for resolving disputed claims. Learn more in the VWC’s Injured Worker FAQs here.

Every workers’ comp claim is unique, and your personal experience may vary from what we’ve described above. To learn more about the Virginia workers’ compensation program, read the Injured Workers’ Guide.

Virginia Workers’ Compensation Statistics, 2012-2016

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) issues an annual workers’ compensation statistical report covering most U.S. states and territories. You’ll see total claims filed and for each job sector, as well as how many people missed work or changed jobs. Our chart below tracks how the Virginia workers’ compensation program changed from 2012 to 2016.

The Virginia workers’ compensation program fluctuates quite a bit every year, but the ratios are fairly stable. Every year in the chart above, service-industry claims make up about 61% of the total filed — other than 2015. That year, injured workers filed 8,100 fewer claims than they did in 2014, and just 58% were service-industry employees. Employees who missed work, changed jobs or received restrictions typically make up 54-55% of total claims filed. That percentage was lowest in 2012, when they made up just 51% instead. That means just over half the employees filing claims each year need more than a week off work to recover.

Preexisting or chronic health conditions can make getting workers’ comp benefits much harder. If you think your employer’s insurance company owes you more benefits than they’re willing to pay, talk to a lawyer. Whether you want confidential answers to your questions without going through HR or need to appeal, a workers’ comp attorney can help you.

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Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity,, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.