eNotes: Workers’ Compensation – October 2022 – Virginia
October 21, 2022
SIGNIFICANT CASE SUMMARIES
VA CASE SUMMARY
Martin v. Fluvanna County
Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission
Decided: October 4, 2022
Retroactive provisions of § 65.2-402.1(B), awarding that COVID-19 diagnoses are compensable for law enforcement officers, are constitutional.
Claimant worked as a law enforcement officer, and contracted COVID-19. Claimant sought the retroactive presumption of Va. Code § 65.2-402.1(B), which granted law enforcement officers a presumption that their COVID-19 diagnosis was causally related to employment.
Defendants primarily defended the claim on the grounds that the statute was unconstitutional, as it violated the substantive due process rights of the defendant. The Deputy Commissioner agreed, finding that the Commission did not have the statutory authority to apply the presumption. Claimant appealed.
The Commission reversed, holding that § 65.2-402.1(B) is constitutional. The Commission found that the legislature intended to apply it retroactively. They also found that it affected a remedy, rather than a substantive right, and the retroactive application of the presumption was therefore justified.
We can expect an appeal to the Court of Appeals. We will continue to monitor the status and will provide updates on the substantive rights of carriers. The good news is that we have since seen cases coming from the Commission finding that the employer actually rebutted the presumption, which is rare.
Any questions regarding this case can be addressed to Mike Bliley, Esquire, at (571) 464-0435 or email@example.com.