Case Studies that Show How Workers’ Compensation is Different in Virginia

May 4, 2021 | Workers' Compensation


There is no federal law that governs job injury compensation. So, there are always some subtle differences from state to state. One big difference is that Virginia workers’ compensation does not include the situs rule. Injured Virginia workers are only entitled to benefits if the injury in question “arose out of” and “in the course and scope of their employment.” In other words, job injury victims in Virginia must prove that a work-related risk or a work-related connection contributed to their injuries.


Distinctions like the lack of a situs rule reinforce the need for an experienced Richmond work accident lawyer. Claims which are open-and-shut in many states are extremely complex in Virginia. Only a highly-experienced lawyer knows how to properly prepare and present your compensation claim.


Benefits Available

Workers’ compensation’s no-fault benefits replace lost wages and pay medical bills related to the injury.


Most job injury victims deal with temporary disabilities. After a period of rest and treatment, they are ready to go back to work. Typically, these victims receive two-thirds of their average weekly wage for the duration of their temporary disabilities. If the victim can return to work but must accept a lower-paying light duty assignment, workers’ compensation usually pays two-thirds of the difference between the old and new salaries.


Some victims are permanently disabled. That disability could be complete or partial. In either case, workers’ compensation usually gives these victims a lump sum payment or an annuity.


The medical bill payment benefit usually applies to all reasonably necessary medical expenses. This category includes direct expenses like hospital bills and indirect expenses like transportation costs. All these benefits last up to 500 weeks in Virginia. So, most victims have plenty of time to recover fully, or almost fully, before they get back to work.



Slip-and-fall injuries or falls from a height are among the most common job-related injuries in the United States. In most states, if Jim falls at work, he’s covered, regardless of the facts. As mentioned, fault doesn’t matter in a workers’ compensation claim. Any injury which happens at work is fully covered, at least in most cases.


The Old Dominion is different. In Virginia, if Jim accidentally falls at work, he’s probably not covered. But if Jim falls at work because the stairwell is unfinished and dark, he’s probably covered. That’s especially true if Jim is a construction worker and the poor lighting is directly related to his job.


Alternatively, if Jim falls at work because he’s wearing a heavy tool belt and loses his balance, he’s probably covered. The tool belt is a work-related requirement.


Usually, there’s a difference between a contributing factor and a causing factor. Typically, Jim must only prove that the work-related condition contributed to his fall. He doesn’t need to prove that the tool belt was so heavy or the stairs were so dark that they caused his fall.


Motor Vehicle Crashes

Statistically, motor vehicle crashes are almost as common as falls, especially in some jobs. For workers’ compensation coverage purposes, there’s often a difference in what lawyers call behavioral negligence and operational negligence.


Behavioral negligence includes things like fatigue, substance abuse, and other impairments which usually have non-work-related roots. Very few people drink to the point of intoxication because their jobs require such behavior. Operational negligence is usually related to the job. People normally speed or run red lights to get places on time.


As a rule of thumb, if substance abuse or another form of behavioral negligence caused the crash, workers’ compensation probably doesn’t cover the injury. Normally, Virginia workers’ comp only applies to operational negligence, even if the accident occurred at work and in a company car.


Things are different if another driver caused the wreck. Typically, injured victims may take action directly against the at-fault driver. If the victim proves negligence, or a lack of care, the victim is usually entitled to compensation not only for the aforementioned lost wages and other economic losses but also for noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.


Give Us a Call, We’re Ready to Help 

Virginia has some of the most complex job injury laws in the country. For a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in Richmond, contact Geoff McDonald & Associates, P.C. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.

Geoff McDonald and Associates: 804-888-8888.


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