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.