Schilling & Esposito April 21, 2020

Richmond and Central, VA Workers' Compensation Attorneys

Qualifying Injuries and Illnesses

Benefits are available for injuries sustained while performing work duties or occupational illnesses that have resulted from the nature of your job. An injury qualifies as an on-the-job injury if it was sustained under the following circumstances:

  1. The accident occurred at work or during a mandatory work-related function;

  2. The accident was the result of specific work activity; and

  3. The accident occurred suddenly at a specific point in time. (Injuries that occur gradually or from repetitive trauma do not qualify.)

You may qualify for workers' compensation benefits for occupational disease if:

  1. A condition peculiar to your occupation causes a disease;

  2. The disease is contracted during the course of your employment in that occupation;

  3. Your occupation presents an inherent hazard of contracting the disease; and

  4. The incidence of otherwise ordinary diseases is substantially higher in people in your occupation than in the general public.

Many occupational diseases may not be diagnosed for years after they are contracted. Thus, it is often the case that an employee falls ill with an occupational disease after being employed by many different employers in the same industry. In these cases, it is not necessary to pinpoint at which job the disease was originally contracted. Instead, the last job at which you were exposed to the hazardous conditions that are known to cause the disease will be held liable for your disability.

Qualifying Employees

Not all employees in Virginia qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. The state has created several exemptions from the protections of workers’ compensation laws for specific classes of employees. Examples of the types of employees that may be exempt in Virginia include the following:

  • Officers and employees of the Commonwealth who are elected by the general assembly or appointed by the governor;

  • Officers and employees of municipal corporations or political subdivisions of the Commonwealth who are elected by the people or by governing bodies;

  • Licensed real estate salespersons or real estate brokers who derive the majority or all of their wages from commissions as independent contractors;

  • Taxicab or executive sedan drivers;

  • Casual employees;

  • Domestic servants;

  • Farm and horticultural workers, unless the employer regularly employs more than two such laborers;

  • Employees of private companies who employ less than three employees within the Commonwealth;

  • Railroad employees;

  • Sports officials in the employ of an interscholastic or intercollegiate sports event or a non-profit organization of an amateur sporting event;

  • Volunteer firefighters, with certain exceptions.

Note that the above list is not exhaustive, but only offered to provide examples of the types of exemptions that exist in Virginia. In addition, independent contractors do not qualify for workers' compensation benefits.

Disqualifying Circumstances

Sustaining an injury under certain circumstances may also exclude you from receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Virginia will bar your receipt of benefits if your injury occurs under any of the following circumstances:

  1. The injury was self-inflicted or the accident resulted from your willful misconduct;

  2. The injury was sustained while you were attempting to injure another;

  3. The accident or injury as a result of your intoxication;

  4. The injury occurred because of your willful failure or refusal to use a safety device or follow safety procedures;

  5. The accident or injury occurred because of your willful breach of any rule or regulation adopted by your employer; or

  6. The injury was sustained while you were under the influence of a nonprescribed controlled substance.

To qualify for workers’ compensation, your injuries do not necessarily have to occur in the workplace, but they must occur while you are performing your regular job duties. For instance, if you are injured during business travel while running work-related errands, or while attending mandatory business functions, you will most likely qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. To learn more about whether or not you qualify for workers' compensation benefits, contact Schilling & Esposito at (804) 261-1001 in Richmond or toll-free at 1-888-484-HURT to discuss your case with an experienced Richmond and Central Virginia work injury attorney or click here to fill out our free online case submission form.