The U.S. Virgin Islands system of workers' compensation is compulsory, meaning that employers are required to provide workers' compensation insurance to their employees. Workers' compensation insurance is provided through a government fund. Waivers are not permitted.
The worker's compensation act applies to agricultural workers. Employers may provide voluntary worker's compensation coverage for domestic servants.
Full medical benefits are provided to employees entitled to workers' compensation benefits, subject to a cap of $75,000, or $200,000 if specialized treatment not available in the Virgin Islands is obtained outside of the territory. Initial choice of physician is made by the employee.
Worker's compensation benefits are paid based upon two thirds of the Virgin Islands' average weekly wage. The minimum benefit is $60 per week or, if less, the injured worker's actual pre-injury average weekly wage. Benefits should be claimed within sixty days of the date of injury. Following the first two years of disability, in January of each subsequent year, workers who remain totally disabled from their injuries receive an annual cost of living adjustment.
Benefits available to injured workers include the following:
Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits are paid to workers who are unable to work due to injury, but who are expected to make full or partial recovery such that they may return to work. Benefits are based on two-thirds of the worker's average weekly wage rate at the time of the worker's injury, and continue for the duration of the disability or until maximum medical improvement is reached.
Permanent Total Disability (PTD)
When a worker is not expected to recover from a total disability caused by a work-related injury, and as a result suffers a total loss of earning capacity, the worker becomes eligible for permanent total disability (PTD) benefits. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, PTD benefits are based on two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage rate at the time of the worker's injury, and are paid for the duration of the disability.
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)
Once an injured worker has recovered to the maximum possible extent, the worker may be able to return to employment but nonetheless remain partially disabled, and in most jurisdictions may potentially qualify for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits.
In the U.S. Virgin Islands, for scheduled awards, the duration of PPT benefits is calculated by multiplying the injured worker’s percentage of loss of body function by the number of weeks for full disability of the body part of the body as designated by a statutory schedule. That number of weeks is then multiplied by the standard worker's compensation benefit rate to determine the amount of the award.
For unscheduled awards, benefits are determined based upon the percentage of disability to the body as a whole. Payments are made in monthly installments for a maximum of two hundred weeks, commencing when TTD benefits end. Unscheduled awards may not be settled through a lump sum payment.
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
When a worker suffers an injury that limits his ability to return to work, resulting in a reduction of income as a result of reduced hours or wages, the injured worker may be eligible to receive a benefit based on the difference between the worker's pre-injury earnings and their reduced, post-injury earnings. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, TPD benefits are based on one-half of the difference between the average weekly wage earned by the worker prior to the injury, and the average weekly wage the worker earns or is able to earn after the injury. TPD benefits are paid until the injured worker is able to return to full employment or until maximum medical improvement is reached.
Benefits may be available for serous and permanent disfigurement of the head, neck, or other normally exposed areas that would affect employability.
When a worker dies as the result of a work-related injury, or within four years of the injury as a consequence thereof, the U.S. Virgin Islands provides compensation to the injured worker's surviving spouse, parents and heirs who were dependent upon the deceased worker for support at the time of the worker's death. Compensation may range in amount from $25,000 to $50,000.
There is no special limit on attorney fees for worker's compensation cases.
This article provides a quick overview of the benefits available to injured workers, but the full formulas used for assessment of benefits, coordination of different types of benefits, and assessment of injuries and disability ratings can quickly complicate the determination of benefits. Also, governments frequently revise their workers' compensation laws. Most workers who suffer a significant injury or wage loss as the result of a workplace injury will benefit from consulting a workers' compensation lawyer.
The agency responsible for workers' compensation is:
Department of Labor
Workers' Compensation Administration
2353 Kronprindsens Gade
St. Thomas, VI 00802 (340) 776-3700