Can Injured Workers Obtain Death Benefits under the Virginia Worker’s Compensation Act?

Section 65.2-512 of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act dictates compensation to dependents of an employee killed at work. According to the Workers’ Compensation Act, if death results from the accident within nine years, the employer shall pay, or cause to be paid, compensation in weekly payments equal to 66 and two-thirds percent of the employee’s average weekly wages. There is a special section for those person presumed to be wholly dependent upon the deceased employee for a period of 500 weeks from the date of injury or death. The laws surrounding death benefits can be as complex and complicated as that of an injured workers. Indeed, one must demonstrate dependency in order to obtain any benefits under this Section. When a Claimant is found dead at or near his place at work, his death is presumed to arise out of the employment absence of rebuttal of evidence. Southern Motor Lines v. Alvis, 200 A 168, 104 S.E.2d 735 (1958).

As it relates to injured workers, Virginia has longstanding principles as it relates to establishing a prima facie alim for compensation for an injury by accident. In Virginia, generally a Claimant must prove, by a preponderance of evidence an (1) identifiable incident; (2) that occurred at some reasonably definite time; (3) with an obvious, sudden mechanical or structural change in the body; and (4) a causal connection between the incident and the bodily change. H.N. Funkhouser & Co. v. Kirby, No. 0999-91-4 (Ct. Of Appeals October 22, 1991); Southside Va. Training Ctr. v. Jones, NO. 2898-98-2 (Ct. Of Appeals January 11, 2000). Psychological and post traumatic stress disorder have been upheld where credible evidence supported the Commission’s finding that the injured workers’ PTSD was causally related to an obvious sudden shock or fright which the Claimant sustained in the course of employment. This, according to case law and facts, was proven to be a compensable injury. Hercules, Inc. v. Gunther, 13 Va. App. 357, 412 S.E.2d 185 (1991).

While Virginia laws are complicated and complex, Attorney Morring has more than twenty (20) years of legal experience in this particular field of law. This past year she was a presenter at the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference where other attorneys, insurance professionals and Commissioners attended. Among her many philanthropic interests, she has continued her fight for injured workers in the community, and supported Kids Chance of Virginia, a charity which provides scholarship and educational funds to children of severely injured workers in Virginia.

If you or a family member has been injured while at work, contact Attorney Morring for a free consultation. Know your rights and retain an attorney that will fight for you and your family.

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