COVID-19 EDITION | Coronavirus & Comp Updates
The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission (VWC) is responsible for carrying out the requirements of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act, while administering Virginia's workers’ compensation program, meeting legal requirements and providing various protections.
Also included are relevant updates from other organizations, such as the WCIO.
We will continually update this article as announcements are made. Scroll to the list of links to each Order with summaries appearing below.
08/20/2020 - VWC Commission Issues COVID-19 Claims Updates - see data dashboard
08/19/2020 - Proposed Bills Seek to Create Presumption for some COVID-19 Claims under the Workers’ Compensation Act
08/07/2020 - VWC Commission Issues Order Regarding Evidentiary Hearings During the COVID-19 Pandemic
6/01/2020 - VWC Commission Headquarters Closed on Monday, June 1st , 2020
05/21/2020 - VWC Commission Issues Order to Resume In-Person Hearings
04/30/2020 - VWC Commission Moves Forward with Converting All Hearings Scheduled May 1 - June 10 to Video Hearings
04/20/2020 - VWC Headquarters Will Reopen April 21st, 2020
04/07/2020 - VWC Headquarters Closed Until Further Notice
04/06/2020 - VWC | Special Order to Conduct Evidentiary Hearings via Video Conference
03/27/2020 - VWC | All Commission Regional Offices Will be Closed Until Further Notice
03/26/2020 - VWC | Update to Commission Rule 1.7(C)(3) [Notary Requirements]
03/26/2020 - WCIO | New EDI Codes are Available for Reporting COVID-19 Claims
03/25/2020 - VWC | In-Person Mediations and Hearings Cancelled through April 30th
VWC Commission Issues COVID-19 Claims Updates - see data dashboard
The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission has released COVID-19 claims information for the first time on its website.
Proposed Bills Seek to Create Presumption for some COVID-19 Claims under the Workers’ Compensation Act
Several bills regarding COVID-19 and its treatment under workers’ compensation have been introduced at this week’s Special Session of the Virginia General Assembly.
Specifically, these bills seek to establish a presumption of compensability for COVID-19 have been referred to committee for consideration. See details below for proposed bills: HB 5028; SB 5066, SB 5097, and SB 5104; and SB 5022.
Additionally, bills limiting civil liability have been introduced to provide immunity from civil claims related to the transmission of or exposure to COVID-19 and use of personal protective equipment: SB 5019 and SB 5037.
VWC Commission Issues Order Regarding Evidentiary Hearings During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Commission issued a new Order about COVID on August 7, 2020. We've noted the following key points:
- It gives the Deputy Commissioners more discretion to decide whether the hearing will take place by video or in person.
- Objections to the form of a hearing must be filed within 7 days of the hearing notice being issued.
- Gloves are no longer required for in person hearings.
- The video hearing rules are unchanged.
VWC Headquarters Closed on Monday, June 1st, 2020
Excerpted from the VWC email: ‘‘The headquarters of the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission (VWC) located at 333 E. Franklin Street, Richmond, Virginia will be closed on Monday, June 1, 2020 due to protests in the immediate area. The decision to close the headquarters building is consistent with the direction of the Governor.
The drop box located in front of the Commission's headquarters for subpoenas and hand delivered filings will not be available during this time.’’
While the headquarters is closed, VWC will continue to serve customers: Read how in the full email.
VWC Return to In-Person Hearings Order
From the VWC Website: Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission has issued the attached Order to return to in-person hearings on or after June 11, 2020. [Download Order]
VWC Headquarters Will Reopen April 21st, 2020
From the VWC Website (abridged): ‘‘The Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission (VWC) will reopen its headquarters on April 21, 2020, with minimal occupancy of employees performing critical functions. The facility remains closed to the public to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
The Commission’s Clerk’s Office and mail operations will also reopen on April 21st. Parties are strongly encouraged to file documents by fax (804-823-6957) or through WebFile. In accordance with Va. Code Sec. 1-210(B), the filing deadline for any item required to be filed with the Commission during the period in which the Clerk’s Office was closed is extended to April 21st. During office hours, visitors will use a drop box located in front of the Commission's headquarters for subpoenas and hand delivered filings.’’
VWC Headquarters Closed Until Further Notice
From the VWC Website: ‘‘The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission (VWC) has confirmed that an agency employee is exhibiting symptoms for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and is symptomatic as defined by the Centers for Disease Control. The last date of contact with the employee occurred on March 20th. VWC leadership is working closely with the Virginia Department of Health and has made appropriate notifications to VWC employees and others who may have also been exposed.
As a precautionary measure, the Commission headquarters, located at 333 E. Franklin Street, Richmond, Virginia will close on April 7, 2020 until further notice for cleaning and disinfection.
Although the Commission's Clerk’s Office is closed, parties may continue to file documents by fax or WebFile. However, in accordance with Va. Code Sec. 1-21 O(B) the filing deadline for any item required to be filed with the Commission during the period in which the Clerk’s Office is closed is extended to the next business day on which the Clerk's Office is open.
During this time, VWC is continuing to serve our customers:
- Our Customer Contact Center is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. - 4:45 p.m. at 1-877-664-2566.
- Employees are teleworking, continuing as many business operations as possible.
- Our WebFile system remains operational.
- We are working closely with stakeholders to accommodate upcoming hearing and mediation schedules.
- Please check our website for important updates.
The Commission is dedicated to being responsive to the health and safety of its employees and visitors. Please check our website for important updates as this situation evolves.’’
VWC | Special Order to Conduct Evidentiary Hearings via Video Conference
On April 6, 2020, the Commission issued the attached Order regarding to conduct evidentiary hearings via video conference.
VWC | All Commission Regional Offices Will be Closed Until Further Notice
From the VWC Website (abridged): ‘‘Regional office employees will begin teleworking, continuing as many business operations as possible.
In response to recommendations concerning COVID-19, starting March 30th, all Commission regional offices, will be closed until further notice. Regional offices are located in Bristol, Fairfax, Harrisonburg, Manassas, Roanoke and Virginia Beach.
During this time, VWC is committed to continuing to serve our customers:
- Our website and WebFile remain operational.
- Our Customer Contact Center is still available for calls at 1-877-664-2566.
- We are working closely with stakeholders to accommodate upcoming hearing and mediation schedules.
If you have additional questions about an upcoming hearing, please contact the Deputy Commissioner's Office located on your Notice of Hearing, or contact VWC's Customer Contact Center at 1-877-664-2566.
The Commission is working diligently to assist our customers as needed. If you have any other questions, please contact VWC at 1-877-664-2566 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.’’
VWC | Notary Changes to Settlement Documents
On 3/26/20 the Commission entered an Order temporarily suspending the requirement that the claimant notarize the settlement affidavit.
WCIO Announces EDI Reporting Changes
New Codes for Reporting COVID-19 Claims
The Commission announced on 3/26/20 that new EDI codes are available for reporting COVID-19 claims effective December 2019 and later.
*New* Cause of Injury Code (DN0037) - 83 for “Pandemic”
*New* Nature of Injury Code (DN0035) - 83 for “COVID-19” were approved.
The IAIABC recommends that EDI reporting and collection systems be modified to recognize these new codes by April 1, 2020.
View the New Injury Description Tables.
VWC | In-Person Mediations and Hearings Cancelled through April 30th
However, there are telephonic and videoconference options that may serve as good substitutes for mediation.
The Commission extended the in-person hearings and mediation cancellations through April 30th and included the following guidance:
- The Commission remains open for all other business and therefore there is no change at this time in policy or procedure with regard to timely filing, statutes of limitation, or other statutory or rule based time limitations.
- All parties affected will be contacted by the Commission as soon as possible to reschedule.
- The Commission continues to accept electronic signatures for these forms: Claim For Benefits, Award Agreement, Fatal Award Agreement, Termination of Wage Loss and Employer's Application.
View the original memo issued on March 24, 2020.
Read other publications in our Coronavirus & Comp Update Special Edition
Coronavirus and Workers’ Compensation in Virginia
Part 1 - A ‘Disease’
Part 2 - Similarities with a Tuberculosis Case
Part 3 - First Responder Presumption Cases
Part 4: Presumption Claims and the Unknown Effects of Coronavirus
COVID-19 QUICK REFERENCE GUIDES FROM ALFA INTERNATIONAL
Need Workers’ Compensation COVID-19 Updates for Other States? We've created a COVID-19 QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE covering VIRGINIA for ALFA International and other member firms have done the same for 32 OTHER STATES.
Visit our COVID-19 Legal Resources
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