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An Update on Workers' Compensation Legislation in the General Assembly.

Scott C. Ford, Chair, Workers' Compensation Practice Group

The following is a brief overview of legislation introduced in this current legislative session before the Virginia General Assembly.

Items defeated or tabled.
There were several bills introduced in 2016 dealing with presumption issues. The General Assembly considered but either defeated or tabled actions this year. These items included further detailing certain cancers as part of existing presumption bills for certain occupations (HB 195/HB 639/SB 92/SB 524/SB 565) and also seeking to expand presumption coverage to additional public safety sub-groups. Separately, a proposed bill (SB 345) was defeated in the Senate that would seek to provide a treating physician and the Commission with the ability to require an employer to provide up to $42,000 for accessible personal transportation in cases where the employee was deemed incapacitated and the injury was ruled compensable.

Items approved or pending.
As for approved or pending legislation, there have been three items worth noting. First, was the nomination and subsequent election for a position on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. Secondly, there are two instances where bills have been approved and appear ready to become law.

The first (HR 85/SR 30) involves the nomination and subsequent election of The Honorable Robert F. Newman to a six-year term with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission beginning February 1, 2016. Commissioner Newman was originally appointed to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission in 2013.

Next, potential legislation (HB 44) would codify the death presumption that currently exists in case law and expand it slightly. The bill establishes presumptions in claims under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act that the accident arose out of and in the course of employment if (i) the employee dies with there being no evidence that he ever regained consciousness after the accident, (ii) dies at the accident location or nearby, or (iii) is found dead where he is reasonably expected to be as an employee. These presumptions will exist in the absence of a preponderance of evidence to the contrary and where the factual circumstances are of sufficient strength from which the only rational inference to be drawn is that the accident arose out of and in the course of employment.

The last and largest piece of pending legislation is the establishment of fee schedules for medical and legal services in Virginia (HB 378/SB 631). Overall, the legislation seeks to establish fee schedules for medical services under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act in the absence of a contract to accept a specified amount. These fee schedules will be set every two years and the Commission will hire an outside contracting firm to assist it in establishing these amounts. This bill has been passed and signed by both the House and the Senate. It is now awaiting the approval of the Governor.

We encourage you to further read the full text of this pending legislation which can be found here.

Legislative Summaries:

The following is a brief status of the workers’ compensation bills introduced in the 2016 General Assembly Session. More information on each of these items, including full copies of the proposed legislation, can be found in Virginia’s Legislative Information System by clicking here.

House Bill 44: Injuries or deaths presumed to be in the course of employment.
Current Status: Passed by House, 95Y-3N; Passed by the Senate, 39Y-0N

House Bill 195: Presumption of compensability for certain diseases.
Current Status: Left in committee of commerce and labor

House Bill 207: Recovering damages from other party.
Current Status: Stricken from docket

House Bill 253: Certificate of workers’ compensation compliance
Current Status: Continued to 2017

House Bill 378/Senate Bill 631: Fee schedules for medical and legal services.
Current Status: Passed by House and Senate with Emergency Clause. Enrolled.

House Bill 490: Cost of living supplements
Current Status: Continued to 2017

House Bill 639: Disease presumptions, correctional officers
Current Status: Left in commerce and labor committee

House Resolution 85: Nomination for election of member
Current Status: Election, 97Y-0N

Senate Bill 92: Disease presumption for correctional officers
Current Status: Passed by indefinitely by committee

Senate Bill 239: Recovering damages from other party
Current Status: Stricken from docket

Senate Bill 345: Employer’s duty when incapable of work
Current Status: Defeated in commerce and labor committee

Senate Bill 474: Recovering damages from other party
Current Status: Stricken from docket

Senate Bill 524: Presumption of compensability for certain diseases
Current Status: Defeated in commerce and labor committee

Senate Bill 565: Presumption of compensability for certain diseases
Current Status: Stricken from docket

Senate Bill 631: Fee schedules for medical services
Current Status: Passed by House and Senate with Emergency Clause. Enrolled.

Senate Resolution 30: Nomination for election of member
Current Status: Election, 39Y-0N

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McCandlish Holton, PC  • 

1111 East Main Street, Suite 2100 • 

P.O. Box 796 • 

Richmond, Virginia

23218-0796  • Call: 1.800.442.6672 • 

E-Mail: workcomp@lawmh.com • 

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