Virginia Workers Compensation Jurisdiction


Where Should I File My Workers Compensation Claim?


The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act covers the overwhelming majority of employees in the state. This article explains when the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission has jurisdiction over an accidental injury or occupational disease claim so that you can decide where to file your claim.


Jurisdiction over Work Injuries in Virginia


The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission has subject matter jurisdiction over all workplace accidents and occupational diseases in the state. If you’re hurt at work, or diagnosed with an illness related to your employment, then you must file a claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission.


Even if your employer is headquartered outside of Virginia, you should still file a workers compensation claim in Virginia if your employer has a place of business here or you were injured in the state while doing something for your employer’s benefit.


Foreign Injuries; When Does the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission Have Jurisdiction Over Out of State Injuries?


We represent injured workers who live in Virginia, Maryland, D.C., North Carolina, and elsewhere in the country, especially airline employees, truck drivers, and professional athletes and entertainers. Because of the close proximity of these two states and the federal district, and how frequently many employees have to travel for work, our clients often get hurt on job sites in a jurisdiction different from where they live and their employer is based.


For example, we have had several clients who live in Northern Virginia and work for a Virginia-based company injured while working in D.C. or Maryland. We’ve also represented airline employees hurt in Ohio while living in Nevada and being based out of Virginia, as well as professional ice skaters hurt overseas but bound by a contract giving Virginia jurisdiction over the workers’ comp claim. This can create an interesting procedural question over which state or district has jurisdiction over the workers’ compensation claim.


The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act specifically addresses such a scenario in Section 65.2-608, which is entitled Foreign Injuries. The law reads:


A. When an accident happens while the employee is employed elsewhere than in this Commonwealth which would entitle him or his dependents to compensation if it had happened in this Commonwealth, the employee or his dependents shall be entitled to compensation, if:


  1. The contract of employment was made in this Commonwealth; and
  2. The employer’s place of business is in this Commonwealth; provided the contract of employment was not expressly for service exclusively outside of the Commonwealth.


B. However, if an employee shall receive compensation or damages under the laws of any other state, nothing herein contained shall be construed as to permit a total compensation for the same injury greater than is provided in this title.


This means that if your employer is based in Virginia and did not explicitly hire you to do work outside of Virginia, then you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under Virginia law even though you were not injured in Virginia. The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission will evaluate your claim as though you were injured in Virginia.


Just because you are able to bring your claim in Virginia and receive workers’ compensation benefits under Virginia law does not necessarily mean you should do so. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney will analyze the benefits available under Virginia law and compare those benefits to the ones available under the jurisdiction of the state or district where you were injured. Most states have a statute similar to Virginia’s and will allow you to bring a workers’ compensation claim under their laws even if you are not a resident and your employer does not have a place of business in that state, so long as other criteria are met. Since double compensation is not allowed, you will have to select the state whose laws are most beneficial to you.


Another consideration in where to file your claim is the applicable statute of limitations. If you’ve waited too long to file a claim in one jurisdiction, then you’ll want to file in the other.


Call Us For Help With Your Workers Comp Claim and Jurisdiction Issues: We’ll Help You Figure Out Where to File Your Claim


If you have questions about whether the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission has jurisdiction over your claim, or are looking for legal representation following a work injury, contact Virginia workers compensation attorney Corey Pollard for a free strategy session: 804-251-1620. We’ve helped hundreds of workers win their claims and negotiate workers compensation settlements that provide financial security.


Additional Articles on Workers Comp Claims in Virginia