By: Matthew Tievsky
In a recent decision by the Virginia Supreme Court, the Court affirmed
that the family of a deceased police-recruit's family was limited
to recovery under the Worker's Compensation system. The recruit had
collapsed and died in December of 2010 during self-defense training at
the Norfolk Police Department and a Labor Department investigation found
that the recruit had been repeatedly struck in the head. His wife had
filed suit a wrongful death suit against the police chief as well as several
training officers, but the Norfolk Circuit Court dismissed the case, finding
worker's compensation to be the wife's only remedy.
While this situation may seem unique on its face, the reality is that
workers' compensation laws can limit any employee's recovery if
they are injured at work. The benefit to this is that unlike a lawsuit, the employee does not have
to prove fault in order to recover. The downside is that the recovery
can be much smaller than the person might receive in a private lawsuit.
However, there is a key exception to the worker's compensation system
– if the employee is injured as a result of a third party's
negligence, they can bring suit against the third party.
For example, if John is a driver for ABC Corp., and while on the job he
is in a Virginia car accident caused by Sally and suffers injuries, John
can recover worker's compensation since he was injured on the job,
and can also bring a suit against Sally. This allows John to recover immediately
for his medical bills and lost wages under the worker's compensation
system while he pursues his case against Sally. The worker's compensation
insurance provider then will have the right to be reimbursed for the money
it paid from any settlement John receives.
The benefit of this strategy is that it holds the negligent party responsible
for their actions, and allows the injured party to recover not only for
their economic damages, but also for the pain, suffering, and inconvenience
experienced as a result of the negligent party's actions. The worker's
compensation insurer also benefits because they are able to recover at
least some of the money that they have had to pay out.
These exceptions and considerations are why having an experienced Northern
Virginia personal injury lawyer is so important following an injury on
the job as a result of someone else's carelessness. The attorneys
at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., have handled countless
cases where individuals have been injured on the job as a result of a
third party's actions. If you or someone you care about has been as
a result of someone else's carelessness, please
call our legal team at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. We are always here to help.