eNotes: Workers’ Compensation – January 2023 – Virginia
January 25, 2023
SIGNIFICANT CASE SUMMARIES
Virginia Case Summary
Reader v. Prince William County
Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission
Decided December, 2022
A firefighter was not entitled to the COVID-19 presumption under 65.2-402 because he did not have a positive test, even when he received a COVID-19 diagnosis
Claimant was a lieutenant at a fire station. He took a water rescue class, wherein he was not permitted to wear a mask to guard against COVID-19 exposure. Three days later, he began to experience symptoms of COVID-19. Claimant tested as a response to these symptoms. One antigen test and two PCR tests all returned negative. Upon presentation, his treating physician diagnosed “COVID”, and specifically noted in his diagnosis that tests available at the time were unable to detect all COVID-19 strains. Claimant sought benefits, which were denied. Claimant appealed.
The Commission held that Claimant was not entitled to the presumption. The statute unambiguously requires a positive test, and Claimant could not meet the requirements of the statute. Commissioner Marshall wrote the opinion for the unanimous majority, and rendered a strict interpretation of 65.2-402.
In a rare win for employers, the Commission limited the scope of the COVID presumption. After the Commission held the presumption was retroactive, it seemed unlikely the Commission would push back on Claimants looking to expand the presumption.
Questions about this case can be directed to Mike Bliley, Esq. at (571) 464-0435 or email@example.com.