Virginia Lawmakers Stop Bill That Would Help Workers With Traumatic Brain Injuries | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

The Virginia Committee on Commerce and Labor has shot down a law that would expand the workers’ compensation coverage for those who suffered traumatic brain injuries on the job, but cannot remember the accident due to the ensuing brain injury.

The bill, S.B. 821, was brought about after the case of Arthur Pierce, a truck company employee who allegedly suffered a head injury on the job, but could not remember what happened to him because of his concussion. The man was found lying next to his truck in 2006 and although he can no longer communicate what happened to him or why, it is assumed that he fell from his big rig and hit his head. Medical doctors agreed that the accident was most likely caused by a work accident, but since there were no witnesses, his family’s plea for workers’ comp benefits was rejected. Even the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission denied the benefits since no one was able to confirm that his accident was an on-the-job injury.

Pierce died from his injuries in 2008 after two years of around-the-clock caretaking.

The bill would make logic sense because of a similar law on the books in Virginia that states that if an employee is found dead on the job or near his or her work site, it can be presumed that the worked died because of his job unless there is a significant amount of evidence saying otherwise.

The reason for the bill’s rejection was a likely increase in workers’ compensation fraud, according to the committee members who blocked the bill’s progress. It would be too easy, they said for workers to fake a traumatic brain injury if they did not need witnesses. Basic testimony, or other evidence to prove their case.

The bill was brought by republican senator Richard Stewart of Westmoreland County.