Injured Workers Must Look for Work in Virginia Workers’ Comp Cases

Workers’ Compensation Attorney Doug Landau is used to dealing with Workers’ Compensation cases.  But, an injured worker may not understand that there are certain requirements that must be met in order to collect state Workers’ Comp (WC) benefits.

An injured worker seeking WC benefits must make an effort — and show evidence of such effort — to find reasonable work once he or she is released to return to work.  This is known as “marketing”.

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In simplistic terms, in Virginia, good faith marketing is 5 job searches per week.

But the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission (VWC) has clear-cut guidelines for injured workers to follow:

Good faith search for work – An employee who is partially disabled – ie., unable to perform his or her regular job, but able to perform light duty work – must seek light duty work in good faith in order to receive disability benefits if he or she is not on an open award.

Factors the Commission considers – In deciding whether a partially disabled employee has made a reasonable effort to find suitable light duty employment the Commission considers such factors as :

  1. the nature and extent of the disability;
  2. the employee’s training, age, experience and education;
  3. the nature and extent of the job search;
  4. the availability of jobs in the area suitable for the employee considering his disability;
  5. any other matter affecting the employee’s capacity to find suitable employment.

Evidence of reasonable effort – The VWC presumes that an injured worker is making a reasonable effort to find residual work (meaning work that can be done even with the current disability)  if the worker has

  1. registered with the Virginia Employment Commission within a reasonable time after being released to return to work; and
  2. directly contacted at least five (5) potential employers per week where the employee has a reasonable basis to believe that there might be a job available that he or she might be able to perform1 and
  3. if appropriate, contacted the pre-injury employer for light duty work.

Keep a job search record – Injured workers must keep detailed written records about the job contacts he or she has made:

  1. names of the employers contacted
  2. where the employers are located
  3. the date(s) the contact was made
  4. whether the contact was in person, by phone or via internet
  5. and the result of the contact

Pre-injury skills or experience -If an injured worker has particular job skills or training, the job search may focus on jobs in that field – but only if there are actually  jobs in that field that the employee can reasonably perform.

If, within a reasonable amount of time searching in that field, the search is not successful, then the employee must broaden the search beyond that field.

Method of Contacting Employers – Injured workers must contact potential employers in a manner reasonably suited to the position sought, which in some cases may be personal visits. In other cases, contacts may be by phone, internet, mail, or through employment agents such as union hiring halls.

Attempt to maximize earnings – If the employee finds and takes a job that pays substantially less than his or her pre-injury job, the employee should continue looking for a higher paying job.

1 It is not necessary to prescreen or know for certain of the availability of a suitable job.

If you or someone you know has been injured on the job, and there are questions as to what laws apply, email or call ABRAMS LANDAU at once (703-796-9555).


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