Just as yesterday's post discussed where to bring a personal injury action for a Virginia resident, this post will look at the same question from the point of view of an on the job accident claim. At the Herndon law firm ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd., we have filed workers comp claims in several jurisdictions for the same accident. Especially in the Virginia, Maryland and DC Metro area, many employees frequently travel across state lines to perform their work. While the law allows our workplace injury law firm to file workers compensation claims in Virginia, Maryland and DC for the same accident, the disabled worker is not supposed to "double dip" and collect benefits under more than one state's comp Award. However there are jurisdictional requirements for every comp case that must be satisfied in order to stay in a particular state's comp system, so the choice of forum must make sense.
The Virginia Court of Appeals ruled last week that a laborer hired in Virginia to perform a job in Delaware cannot collect workers’ comp in Virginia for a job-related injury. The Court of Appeals upheld the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission’s denial of benefits. The facts are interesting. While doing drywall work in Delaware, claimant fell off a ladder and was injured. The employer, claimant and other workers all were present in Delaware at the time of the accident. There was no evidence in the case that any contract between employer and claimant involved work in Virginia. The only evidence is that the only contract in existence was for work in Delaware alone. Under Virginia law, coverage applies to out-of-state injuries only if the place of contract and the employer’s place of business are both within the state – and not even then if the contract is for services exclusively outside the state. Several cases have addressed the question of which party bears the burden of proof as to whether Virginia has jurisdiction. The Virginia Workers Compensation Commission has ruled repeatedly that it is part of the claimant’s burden to prove jurisdiction under the Act.
Finally, based upon Massie v. Firmstone, 134 Va. 450 (1922) (which stands for the proposition that a parties' case can rise no higher than his own testimony), the claimant testified the existing contract was for work in Delaware alone, and the Virginia Court of Appeals stated that he "cannot be heard to ask that his case be made stronger than he makes it."