Brief Fact Summary. The Virginia Industrial Commission held that Claimant employee suffered an injury by industrial accident. Defendant employer challenged the decision.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. An obvious sudden mechanical or structural change in the body is required for accidents resulting from ordinary exertion to be compensable. The claimant must prove that the injury by accident arose from an identified incident that occurs at some reasonably definite time.
Issue. Did the Virginia Industrial Commission err in its holding that an employee’s injuries arose from an industrial accident?
Held. Yes. The court reversed holding that the injury, stemming from mere sitting, was not an industrial accident.
Discussion. The Virginia Supreme Court takes an opportunity to review the particulars that distinguish an “industrial” accident from an accident occurring in the course of normal activities.
In its findings the court noted specifically: “(1) the employee’s injury resulted from an activity similar in nature to her regular job, requiring no different or unusual exertion; (2) the employee did not show that her injury was the result of a sudden, obvious mechanical or structural change; and (3) the injury stemming from mere sitting was not an accidental injury.” Thus, the court provided a four-step analysis by which to measure an industrial “accidental” injury from an injury that occurs during one’s usual, normal activity. The court commented in conclusion, “The Virginia Workmen’s Compensation Act was adopted for the benefit of the employees and their dependents, and it should be liberally construed in order to accomplish this humane purpose. But liberal construction does not mean that the Act should be converted into a form of health insurance.”