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Monday, September 1, 2014

Virginia: Delays in workers' comp system hold up treatments

Today's post is shared from Hamptonroards.com
The Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission is an independent state agency with 270 employees and an annual operating budget of nearly $45 million.
Disputed cases are heard by one of the 21 deputy commissioners unless the parties agree to mediation. In 2013, "the average turnaround time from the time a case was referred to the hearing docket to the date the hearing was held was 150.9 days" or about five months, said James Szablewicz, who has served as chief deputy commissioner for the past decade.
In most cases, the deputy commissioner is supposed to issue a ruling within 21 days of the hearing. After that, a worker or employer's representative may file an appeal to be heard by the three commissioners. The commissioners are considered the equivalent of civil court judges in Virginia. The General Assembly appoints them to renewable six-year terms.
Virginia law does not set deadlines for hearings before deputy commissioners or commissioners. One way, however, that the commission expedites the process is to sometimes substitute an "on-the-record" decision for a hearing, Szablewicz said. In cases with smaller-scale disputes that...
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