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No Workers' Compensation Death Benefits After Job-Site Fall

Author: Portner & Shure

A worker, Jose Fidel Arroyo, who died on June 7, 2012, from a fall while working in a three-story residential building installing drywall, cannot collect workers’ compensation benefits. The Court of Appeals of Virginia affirmed the Workers’ Compensation Commission’s decision holding that Arroyo’s estate cannot collect benefits because it did not prove the laborer’s injuries arose out of his employment, which is required for receiving workers’ compensation benefits.

In an “unexplained fall case,” such as this one, an accident arises out of the employment when there is a causal connection between claimant’s injury and conditions under which employer requires the work to be performed.“Virginia adheres to the actual risk test to determine whether such a causal connection exists.”In Arroyo’s case, the claimant argues “it would be a reasonable inference to conclude that a condition of decedent’s employment (the improperly guarded elevator shaft) caused decedent’s fall and thereby, his injuries.”However, there is no evidence presented that establishes what actually caused the fall. The only evidence in this case supporting Arroyo’s claim is based on conjecture and speculation. Thus, the required “causal relationship” between decedent’s employment and injury is not established.

In Virginia, workers’ compensation is an injured worker’s exclusive remedy. After a work accident, you only have 30 days to inform your employer of your injury and 2 years in which to file a claim. It is important to file a workers’ compensation claim as soon as possible after the accident in order to ensure a fair recovery. This also applies to the injured worker’s family and representatives if the worker’s injuries result in death. In addition, experienced attorneys also know that in cases involving a third party, separate claims for personal injury may be filed to compensate the worker for pain and suffering. Workers’ compensation only provides benefits to the injured worker for the disability and medical treatment expenses, which can sometimes be low. In actions involving a third-party tortfeasor, the compensation carrier may have a lien for expenses paid. The lien can be reduced, and more than adequate compensation can be recovered from the third party.

If you or a family member has been injured as a result of an injury at work and would like a free legal consultation, or if you would like more information on workers' compensation, please feel free to contact one of our Virginia workers' compensation lawyers at (855) 954-4141 or visit us on our website.

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