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Family law issues that can arise in workers’ compensation

When a person suffers an injury in the workplace, the effects can be disastrous for the worker and the worker’s family, both economically and emotionally. In some cases, the family is unable to restore their lives to the way they were prior to the injury, and they may have to go to family court to confront some unanticipated problems, including those involving child support and equitable distribution.

When you are unable to work due to an injury or illness that you suffered at work, you have a right to receive workers’ compensation temporary disability benefits. In Virginia, the law provides that you are entitled to receive 66 ⅔ percent of your wages when you are injured, for up to 500 weeks. The workers’ compensation insurance carrier pays the benefits directly to the injured worker.

However, a problem can arise if your child support payments are made directly from your usual paycheck. Although you are not receiving your paycheck on a regular basis, you are still required to pay child support. You are obligated to make the payments from your workers’ compensation temporary disability benefits. You can either make a direct payment of the child support or request a court order from the Judge of Compensation to lower your weekly workers’ compensation benefit. But since benefits are just a part of your usual wages, several obligors are late in making payments when they have to be absent from work while recuperating from an injury.

In this situation, the past due benefits will accumulate, and eventually you will be in arrears. You are still responsible for making these back payments, which will be subtracted from any award you obtain for permanent disability. Each award for permanent disability requires approval by a Judge of Compensation at a hearing. Prior to the judge’s approval of a settlement, the judge must find out if there are any payments that are due. If there are outstanding payments, the first $2,000 is payable to the injured worker, after which the remainder is to be applied toward the arrears. Whatever is left is disbursed to the injured worker.

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