Time Limitations in Permanent Partial Disability Claims in Virginia
Virginia Workers Compensation claims are subject to many time limitations. The most well know time limitation in Virginia Workers Compensation is the requirement that the injured worker file a claim with the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission within two years of the accident. There are other limitations for payment of wage loss and permanent impairment benefits that begin to run at certain points in the life of a claim. Permanent Partial Disability benefits are a particular type of benefit available to injured workers based upon a permanent loss of use to a "scheduled" body part. I have written more extensively on "PPD" benefits here. It is important for an injured worker to know the time period available to claim permanent partial disability benefits. The injured worker must file a claim for permanent partial disability benefits for the injured body party within 3 years of the accident (in the case where no wage loss benefits were awarded) or 3 years from the date that wage loss benefits were last paid.
A question arose with some of my colleagues recently about what evidence the injured worker must have within the 3 year time period to satisfy the time limitation. Does the injured worker need to have an actual % rating to the injured body part within the 3 years or just simply file a claim within the 3 year time limitation?
Several cases have addressed the issue over the years. Johnson v. Smith, 16 Va. App. 167, 428 S.E.2d 508 (1993), established that as long as the injured worker filed a claim for permanent partial disability benefits within three years, the evidence supporting the permanency claim may be produced and presented after the limitation period has expired as long as the claim has been filed. The injured worker does only has to prove that he or she has a permanent disability that existed within the limitation period and that was caused by a compensable accident. Sw. Va. Tire, Inc., v. Bryant, 31 Va. App. 655, 660-61, 525 S.E.2d 563, 566 (2000). The Courts have further held that "the notion that the date of a medical report or even a doctor's examination must be within [the] statutory period in order to prove the date of onset of disability is not reasonable." Sw. Va. Tire, Inc., 31 Va. App. at 661, 525 S.E.2d at 566.
Guidelines for a successful Permanent Partial Disability Workers Compensation Claim in Virginia
1. File the PPD claim before 3 years (36 months) after the date that the injured worker is last paid wage loss benefits or, in the case where no wage loss benefits were awarded, from the date of the accident.
2. Provide some medical evidence of permanency filed with the Commission prior to the 36 month limitation.
3. Have the doctor or some other provider offer an opinion about the % loss of use to the "scheduled" body part.
Our firm has handled hundreds of permanent partial disability claims under the Virginia Workers Compensation Act. If this issue, or any other issue arises as a result of an injury that you had at work, please do not hesitate to call our firm to discuss the case with one of our attorneys.