Hurt on the job? Then you’ll spend a lot of time interacting with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Commission – from filing a claim for workers’ comp benefits to going to hearing to receiving payment of benefits for a lump sum workers’ comp settlement.
What is the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission?
The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission is an independent state agency whose purpose is to administer the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act. Its mission is to serve injured employees, victims of crimes, employers, and insurance carriers by resolving disputes.
The Commission is a court of record. It has the power to issue subpoenas, administer oaths, sanction for misconduct, and punish for contempt. It may make any rule that is consistent with the Act and is designed to help the Commission carry out its responsibilities.
There are different departments within the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. These departments include the:
- Judicial Division: This division’s purpose is to resolve disputed claims and issues under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act. The Alternative Dispute Resolution Department, which oversees mediations, is part of this division.
- Administrative Division: This division manages day-to-day operations. Most injured employees will have limited interaction with this department once they retain a workers compensation attorney. The Administrative Division is broken into the: Claims Services Department; Correspondence Management Department; EDI Quality Assurance Department; Financial Services Department; Human Resources Department; Information Systems Department; Insurance Department; Outreach Services Department; and, Project Management Office.
Who is on the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission?
The Commissioners all have one thing in common – they are former workers’ compensation lawyers. As directed under the Act, one member of the Commission – Wesley G. Marshall – is considered a representative of employees because he is a former claimants’ attorney. Another member of the Commission – formerly Roger L. Williams – is considered a representative of employers because he represented insurance carriers in workers’ comp matters. And the third Commissioner, R. Ferrell Newman, is considered “neutral” because he used to represent both claimants and insurance carriers.
Both plaintiffs’ attorneys and defense attorneys lobby the General Assembly to get Commissioners they feel will be helpful elected. Similarly, the groups lobby against candidates whom they think will take the Commission’s case law too far in the opposite direction from where they want it to be. As with everything, politics plays a role in the make up of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Most injured employees will have limited interaction with the three Commissioners. If your claim requires a hearing, however, you will interact with one of the Commission’s deputy commissioners.
The three Commissioners appoint several deputy commissioners. Deputy commissioners are hearing officers. They preside over evidentiary and on-the-record hearings in disputed claims.
Many deputy commissioners are also certified mediators. At the parties’ request they will conduct settlement mediations in disputed cases. For more information read my article about mediation in Virginia workers’ compensation.
The current deputy commissioners are:
- James J. Szablewicz (Deputy Commissioner)
- Deborah Blevins
- Frederick Bruner
- Christen Burkholder
- Jason Cording
- William Culbreth
- Susan Cummins
- Lynne Ferris
- Angela Gibbs
- Robert Himmel
- Brooke Anne Hunter
- Terry Jenkins
- Andrea Lee
- R. Temple Mayo
- Geovanni Munoz
- John Nevin
- Dana Plunkett
- P. Randolph Roach Jr.
- Jimese Sherrill
- Linda Slough
- Susan Stevick
- Randolph Tabb Jr.
- Lee Wilder
For more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission, check out these articles:
What other responsibilities does the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission have?
The Commission not only has jurisdiction over the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act but also several other administrative programs. These programs include:
Benefits are available to individuals who suffer a birth-related neurological injury. The Commission issues decisions on petitions filed under the BRNCA,
Victims of violent crimes can receive compensation through Virginia’s Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund. The General Assembly established this fund in 1976. The Commission has jurisdiction over these claims.
The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission administers, maintains, and disburses compensation from the Second Injury Fund.
The Commission will enter an award against the Second Injury Fund in favor of an employer or its workers compensation insurance carrier only when it finds that:
- The injured employee has prior loss, as shown by the medical evidence, of not less than 20 percent of one or more of the body parts set out in Code Section 65.2-1102;
- The injured employee has sustained in an industrial accident an additional loss of any one of the body parts set out in Code Section 65.2-1102 of not less than 20 percent;
- The combination of these impairments has left the employee totally or partially disabled;
- The insurance carrier or employer has paid compensation due and covered medical treatment; and
- The injured employee is entitled to further compensation for disability which the employer or carrier has paid.
The Second Injury Fund defines disability as the partial or total loss or loss of use of an arm, hand, leg, foot, eye, finger, toe, or any combination of two or more thereof in an industrial accident and actual incapacity for work at the employee’s pre-injury average weekly wage.
If the employer or its workers compensation insurance carrier files a timely claim against the Second Injury Fund prior to payment of the benefits, the Commission must enter an award from the Second Injury Fund in favor of the employer or carrier. The award will provide reimbursement on a pro rata basis for future compensation paid.
Roughly 97% of Virginia’s labor force is covered by workers’ compensation. But sometimes employers refuse or forget to purchase workers’ compensation insurance even though they’re supposed to. When this happens, the Uninsured Employer’s Fund (UEF) will step in for the employer and pay benefits.
Claims involving the UEF can get complicated. An injured employee must first obtain an award against his or her employer. When the employer refuses to pay the benefits awarded, the injured employee must then demand payment from the UEF. The UEF will pay the benefits, but will also seek reimbursement from the employer.
Don’t see the answer to your question here? Browse through our website or give us a call. We’re here to help you after a workplace accident or diagnosis of an occupational disease.