Death in the Workplace

If death occurs while the decedent was on the job, the right to sue may change. Under Virginia's Workers' Compensation Act, an employee who elects to take workers' compensation does not have a right to sue his employer for injuries in the workplace. Va. Code § 65.2-307. If the decedent accepts workers' compensation and gives up his right to sue, beneficiaries or surviving relatives also cannot sue for wrongful death. Va. Code § 65.2-307.

If a person's death on the job was due to the negligent actions of a third party, however, Virginia's workers' compensation statute allows dependents to pursue a wrongful death suit against the third party, regardless of whether the decedent elected for worker's compensation through his employer. Va. Code § 65.2-310.

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