Court Affirms That Once Worker’s Compensation Act Applies, It Is an Absolute Bar to Subsequent Tort Suit

Steven W. Bancroft, Esquire
July 16th, 2012
By: Steven W. Bancroft, Esquire

The Virginia Supreme Court recently ruled on a case defended by the firm that once the Virginia Worker’s Compensation Act is found to apply to a work related accident, it bars any subsequent tort action. Pursuant to §65.2-307 of the Virginia Code, the Supreme Court of Virginia affirmed the trial court’s decision dismissing a wrongful death action against the general contractor even when death benefits were not awarded under the Worker’s Compensation Act.

The facts involved an employee of the general contractor who received fatal injuries when the building that he was working on collapsed. The decedent’s wife qualified as the personal representative of the estate and filed a worker’s compensation claim for death benefits against his employer. The personal representative failed, however, to establish the required financial dependency on decedent and was denied death benefits. The personal representative was paid funeral expenses only under the Act.

The personal representative filed a wrongful death action against her husband’s employer and other subcontractors on the job and the trial court ruled that once the Worker’s Compensation Act applied, it was an absolute bar to any subsequent tort suit, even when compensation was not awarded. The personal representative appealed and the Virginia Supreme Court granted a writ and heard oral argument on the issue. The Virginia Supreme Court ruled that once the Virginia Worker’s Compensation Act applied and took jurisdiction over an industrial accident, it barred any tort suits against the employer or other statutory employers regardless of whether benefits were awarded under the Act.

Disclaimer

This blog and the information provided has been prepared by Bancroft, McGavin, Horvath & Judkins, P.C. (“BMHJ”) for information purposes only and is not intended nor to be construed as legal advice. This blog may contain the opinions of the members and associates of this firm on various legal issues and is not legal advice. Read More