Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 65.2. Workers' Compensation
Subtitle .
Chapter 2. Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission

Chapter 2. Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission.

§ 65.2-200. Industrial Commission continued as the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission; number, election and terms of members; vacancies; Chairman; members to devote entire time to office.

A. The Industrial Commission of Virginia is continued and shall hereafter be known as the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission. All powers and duties conferred and imposed upon the Industrial Commission by any other law are hereby conferred upon and vested in the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission.

B. The Commission shall consist of three members, one of whom shall be chosen by the joint vote of the two houses of the General Assembly convened in an even-numbered year, and who shall serve for terms of six years.

C. Whenever a vacancy in the Commission occurs or exists when the General Assembly is in session, the General Assembly shall elect a successor for the unexpired term. If the General Assembly is not in session, the Governor shall forthwith appoint pro tempore a qualified person to fill the vacancy for a term ending thirty days after the commencement of the next session of the General Assembly, and the General Assembly shall elect a successor for the unexpired term.

D. Not more than one member of the Commission shall be a person who on account of his previous vocation, employment or affiliation shall be classified as a representative of employers, and not more than one such appointee shall be a person who on account of his previous vocation, employment or affiliation shall be classed as a representative of employees. The Commission thus composed shall elect one of its number chairman for a term of three years commencing on July 1, 1979, and each succeeding three years thereafter. Each member of the Commission shall devote his entire time to the duties of his office and shall not hold any position of trust or profit or engage in any occupation or business interfering or inconsistent with his duties as such member.

Code 1950, § 65-9; 1954, c. 233; 1968, c. 660, § 65.1-10; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 70; 1979, c. 459; 1991, c. 355; 2006, c. 838.

§ 65.2-201. General duties and powers of the Commission.

A. It shall be the duty of the Commission to administer this title and adjudicate issues and controversies relating thereto. In all matters within the jurisdiction of the Commission, it shall have the power of a court of record to administer oath, to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents, to punish for contempt, to appoint guardians pursuant to Part C (§ 64.2-1700 et seq.) of Subtitle IV of Title 64.2, and to enforce compliance with its lawful orders and awards. The Commission shall make rules and regulations for carrying out the provisions of this title.

B. The Commission may appoint deputies, bailiffs, and such other personnel as it may deem necessary for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this title.

C. The Commission or any member thereof or any person deputized by it may for the purposes of this title subpoena witnesses, administer or cause to be administered oaths, and examine or cause to be examined such parts of the books and records of the parties to a proceeding as relate to questions in dispute arising in instances in which the Commission has power to award compensation. This authority shall extend to requests from like agencies of other states who honor similar requests from the Commission.

D. The Commission shall publish and, upon request, furnish free of charge, such blank forms and literature as it shall deem requisite to facilitate or promote the efficient administration of this title. The Commission shall publish a workers' compensation guide for employees which informs an injured employee of his rights under this title. If the Commission receives notice of an accident, it shall provide a workers' compensation guide to the employee.

E. A majority of the commissioners, including any deputy commissioner appointed or retired commissioner recalled pursuant to subsection D of § 65.2-705, shall constitute a quorum for the exercise of judicial, legislative, and discretionary functions of the Commission, whether there is a vacancy in the Commission or not, but a quorum shall not be necessary for the exercise of its administrative functions.

F. The Commission shall tabulate the accident reports received from employers in accordance with § 65.2-900 and shall publish the same in the annual report of the Commission and as often as it may deem advisable, in such detailed or aggregate form as it may deem best. The name of the employer or employee shall not appear in such publications, and the employers' reports shall be private records of the Commission and shall not be open for public inspection except for the inspection by the parties directly involved, and only to the extent of such interest. These reports shall not be used as evidence against any employer in any suit at law brought by any employee for the recovery of damages.

Code 1950, §§ 65-10, 65-14, 65-16, 65-19; 1952, c. 14; 1962, c. 339; 1968, c. 660, §§ 65.1-11, 65.1-18, 65.1-22; 1983, c. 102; 1991, c. 355; 2004, c. 178; 2012, c. 588; 2018, c. 250.

§ 65.2-202. Subpoena powers of the Commission; production of records and papers.

A. The Commission or any member or deputy commissioner shall have authority to enforce the attendance of all parties in interest and of witnesses and the production and examination of books, papers and records and to punish for contempt or disobedience of its orders as is vested in courts and judges by § 18.2-456, or Chapter 21 (§ 19.2-339 et seq.) of Title 19.2. Such attendance, production, and examination shall be required by subpoena of the Commission upon timely request therefor by any party to a proceeding before it, unless the Commission finds that the issuance of such subpoena is for dilatory purposes, would cause substantial inconvenience to such witnesses, or is not likely to produce significant relevant evidence.

B. The county or city sheriff or town sergeant, and their respective deputies, shall serve subpoenas of the Commission or its deputies and shall receive the same fees as are now provided by law for like civil actions. Each witness who appears in obedience to such subpoena of the Commission shall receive for attendance the fees and mileage for witnesses in civil cases in courts.

C. The clerk of any court of record shall, upon the application of any party in interest to a proceeding pending under this title, issue a subpoena for the attendance at such proceeding of any witness whose testimony is sought. The return of any subpoena so issued shall be made to the Commission, which shall enforce the attendance of any such witness at such proceeding.

Code 1950, §§ 65-17 through 65-18.1; 1952, c. 470; 1968, c. 660, §§ 65.1-19 through 65.1-21; 1970, c. 470; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 7; 1981, c. 531; 1991, c. 355.

§ 65.2-203. Powers and duties of deputy commissioners and bailiffs.

A. Deputy commissioners shall have the power to subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony and hear the parties at issue and their representatives and witnesses, decide the issues in a summary manner, and make an award carrying out the decision. Deputies may exercise other powers and perform any duties of the Commission delegated to them by the Commission.

B. The bailiffs of the Commission shall, in all matters within the jurisdiction of the Commission, have the powers, discharge the functions, and perform the duties of a sheriff under the law. They shall preserve order during the public sessions of the Commission; may make arrests and serve and make return on any writ or process awarded by the Commission; and shall execute any writ, order, or process of execution awarded upon the findings or judgments of the Commission in any matter within its jurisdiction. They shall exercise other powers and perform any duties as may be delegated to them.

Code 1950, §§ 65-10.1, 65-14; 1960, c. 287; 1962, c. 339; 1968, c. 660, §§ 65.1-12, 65.1-13; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 155; 1991, c. 355.

§ 65.2-204. Administrative provisions: offices, meetings, travel, salary, and expenses.

A. The Commission shall be provided with adequate offices in the Capitol or in some other suitable building in the Commonwealth, in which the records shall be kept and its official business transacted during regular business hours. The Commission shall also be provided with necessary office furniture, stationery, and other supplies.

B. The Commission or any member thereof may hold sessions at any place within the Commonwealth as may be deemed necessary by the Commission.

C. All salaries and expenses of the Commission shall be audited and paid out of the state treasury in the manner prescribed for similar expenses in other departments or branches of state government.

Code 1950, §§ 65-12, 65-13, 65-15; 1968, c. 660, §§ 65.1-15 through 65.1-17; 1991, c. 355; 2013, c. 14.

§ 65.2-205. Ombudsman program; confidentiality.

A. The Commission may create an Ombudsman program and appoint an ombudsman to administer such program. The purpose of the Ombudsman program shall be to provide neutral educational information and assistance to persons who are not represented by an attorney, including those persons who have claims pending or docketed before the Commission. The ombudsman shall be an attorney licensed by the Virginia State Bar, in active status, and in good standing. The ombudsman and any Ombudsman program personnel shall carry out their duties with impartiality and shall not serve as an advocate for any person or provide legal advice.

B. All memoranda, work products, and other materials contained in the case files of the ombudsman or Ombudsman program personnel shall be confidential. Any communication between the ombudsman or Ombudsman program personnel and a person receiving assistance as provided by this section that is made during or in connection with the provision of Ombudsman program services, including screening, intake, and scheduling, shall be confidential.

Confidential materials and communications are not subject to disclosure and shall not be admissible in any judicial or administrative proceeding except where (i) a threat to inflict bodily injury is made; (ii) communications are intentionally used to plan, attempt to commit, or commit a crime or conceal an ongoing crime; (iii) a complaint is made against Ombudsman program personnel by a person receiving assistance to the extent necessary for the complainant to prove misconduct or the Ombudsman program personnel to defend against such complaint; or (iv) communications are sought or offered to prove or disprove a claim or complaint of misconduct or malpractice filed against the legal representative of a person who received assistance from the Ombudsman program.

Confidential materials and communications as described in this section are not subject to mandatory disclosure under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.).

C. The ombudsman and Ombudsman program personnel are immune from civil liability in their performance of the duties specified in this section.

2020, c. 616.