Ombuds Department

Phone Number: 833-448-1681 | Email: ombuds@workcomp.virginia.gov

THE COMMISSION DOES NOT ACCEPT FILINGS BY EMAIL. PLEASE DO NOT EMAIL THE OMBUDS DEPARTMENT ANY DOCUMENTS YOU ARE TRYING TO FILE WITH THE COMMISSION.

The Ombuds Department is a free, confidential resource to provide information and assistance to workers, employers and other parties who are not represented by a lawyer, and who need help understanding the workers’ compensation system. The Ombuds Department is headed by the Ombudsman.

The Ombuds Department cannot give legal advice, but can give information and discuss the options that are available, which allows an unrepresented party to make an educated decision about how to proceed. The Ombudsman Guidelines provide an explanation of what help assistance can and cannot be given.

If you have questions regarding workers’ compensation, and are not represented by or have an attorney on retainer, whether you are a worker, an employer, an insurer, or health care provider, you can contact the Ombuds Department with your questions at toll free: 1-833-448-1681

OMBUDSMAN GUIDELINES

An Ombudsman can:

  • Provide information on where to find a lawyer.
  • Tell a party about law libraries and websites where case law can be found.
  • Provide related Rules, Statutes and case law as they apply to workers’ compensation.
  • Give a party information about the Statutes and Rules of the VWC.
  • Explain VWC’s procedures, as well as what a party can expect in a hearing, and what steps need to be taken to appeal.
  • Supply information, brochures, and contact information about mediation and ADR programs.
  • Give information to unrepresented parties about how to get a hearing scheduled.
  • Explain the importance of giving important documents and other information to the VWC and other parties as required by the Rules.
  • Give information from a party’s file.
  • Explain and answer questions about how the VWC works. This includes explaining basic workers’ compensation legal terms, basic legal principles, the burden of proof required to win at a hearing, explain any defenses raised and what each defense means, and what types of information may be used to defend against such a defense, explain how to obtain medical evidence and how to calculate average weekly wage and how to use that number to then calculate other benefits, and offer options and discuss the potential ramifications of those options.
  • Give information about other local, state, and federal agencies that may be able to help.
  • Talk to a party in their own language.

An Ombudsman cannot:

  • Give the name of a specific lawyer.
  • Do legal research for any specific fact issue.
  • Interpret any VWC documents or tell any party what they should do.
  • Tell a party whether or not they should file a claim or ask for a hearing.
  • Evaluate the claim and explain the strengths and weaknesses of the case to the unrepresented party.
  • Tell a party whether to appeal or what issues to appeal.
  • Tell a party what words to use on any paperwork.
  • Tell anyone what to say in a hearing, mediation, or a deposition.
  • Review or comment on intended statements anyone intends to make in writing prior to the mediation, deposition or hearing;
  • Appear at a hearing, mediation, or at a deposition for or with anyone.
  • Give legal advice, or tell anyone what to do.
  • Tell a party what the value of the claim is.
  • Talk to the judge or anyone else about the workers’ compensation case.
  • Testify for or against anyone in a workers’ compensation hearing.

Making a Referral to the Ombudsman

If you want to ask the Ombudsman to contact someone, you can ask the Ombudsman to call and offer some assistance. This is called a referral. Here is how to do it:

  1. Verify that the person/party being referred is not represented by an attorney.
    The Ombudsman cannot speak to anyone who is represented by an attorney.
  2. Send an email to Ombuds@workcomp.virginia.gov
    Put “Referral” in Re line
    In the email’s body, include as much information as you can, for example:
    1. Name
    2. JCN
    3. Telephone number
    4. Reason for referral
    5. Any background you think the Ombudsman needs to know, such as whether an interpreter will be needed or whether the person being referred knows that a referral is being made.

The Ombudsman will then contact the person and ask if they would like assistance.