What are the VA’s Comp Laws?

Virginia is what is called an actual risk state for Workers’ Compensation Laws. What this means is that for an injury and accident to fall under the Wokers’ Compensation Act, it essentially has to “ring” a series of bells or meet various criteria that have been created by the Virginia General Assembly (the legislative body of the Commonwealth of Virginia).

As each injury must meet the below criteria, it also means that there is a significant amount of litigation if a claim is denied by the insurance adjuster. For this reason, if you have been injured on the job you should consult with a Workers’ Compensation attorney immediately. It is easy to say something unintentional, early on, which will hinder your case from the beginning to the end. In many cases, the insurance adjusters have a good understanding of the laws and they have their attorneys on stand-by. Therefore, you should also have an experienced attorney watching your back from the beginning.

In Virginia, there are three basic bells that an injury must be ring for it to be covered by the Workers’ Compensation Laws.

  1. Injury by Accident: a. The injury must be the result of a sudden or specific incident, b. Which occurs at a known, reasonably definite time, c. Which results in a structural, mechanical change to one’s body, d. and the injury or injuries must be causally related to the accident.
  2. Arising From the Employment: In addition to being an injury by accident, the injury must arise from the employment. What this essentially means is that an accident cannot be the sort, which can occur in your own backyard. It must be an accident that arises as the result of a risk, which is peculiar to the employment. For this reason, a workers’ compensation insurance company usually rejects unexplained accidents.
  3.  In the Course of Employment: This legal term of art basically means that for an injury and accident to be covered it must result from the injured worker being hurt as a result of being somewhere he or she was expected to be, doing something that was expected of him or her by the employer.

It should also be noted that while the above three elements are the basic elements, there are some exceptions. For this reason, if you have been injured on the job you owe it to yourself to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney immediately.

Because of the various criteria an accident and injury must meet, some workers feel the VA Workers’ Compensation Act is more friendly toward employers. There are, however, trade-offs for an injured worker that assists with balancing things out. For example, in VA, in a traditional personal injury case just 1% contributory negligence is sufficient to defeat a lawsuit. Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, however, an employee can be 100% at fault for their own injury and as long as they did not violate an enforced work place safety rule the contributory negligence is irrelevant to the case. Another trade off is that an injury only has to be the result of or related in part (perhaps by as little as 1%) to the work place accident for the injury to be protected under the Act. Still yet, an injury can have two causes—one work place related and the other not—and the work place cause is the one that carries the day. For these reasons, while the VA Comp laws may seem stacked against an injured worker, VA has struck more of an even balance than most workers suspect.