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Virginia Exclusive Remedy For Teacher Shot By 6 Year Old Student


Virginia Exclusive Remedy Law And Teacher’s Lawsuit

Over the weekend, I came across a story in USA Today where the Newport News School District responded to a lawsuit by the teacher who was shot by a six-year-old student even after the school system was given three warnings concerning the child.  Will the Virginia exclusive remedy laws hold up or will the teacher be allowed to pursue the district regardless of the Workers Comp benefits that have been or will be provided in the near future?

The article can be found at this link.  The shooting received national attention from the press – likely due to the age of the perpetrator.

graphic graduation cap Virginia exclusive remedy

The Case Up Until Now

The injured teacher’s attorney has filed a $40 million lawsuit against the district’s school system.  The response from the district was that the Virginia exclusive remedy for worker’s compensation would apply, not the general liability laws.

From the article –

The district argued if the child had stabbed Zwerner in the neck with sharp scissors rather than shooting her with a gun, there would be no question the injury would fall under worker’s compensation. Zwerner refused to accept worker’s compensation and filed her lawsuit instead, the school board claimed.”

I am not going to make a comment on the validity or invalidity of the case.  When I see the words exclusive remedy, my attention always goes to those articles.

I have written a few articles over the years on the exclusive remedy of worker’s comp.   The definition of exclusive remedy comes down to the injured employee having to accept WC as their benefit for an on-the-job accident or occupational disease.

Unlike Virginia’s exclusive remedy laws in North Carolina, our HQ state has an act of violence statute where a teacher injured through an act of violence by a student is paid for a whole year of full wages from the school district.  Workers Comp then may take over paying the benefits if the teacher is not returning to work after the one year of salary continuation.

Check out the Act of Violence for NC Teachers and other school personnel here.  

When I was administering the NC School Boards Association workers comp program, we had approximately 6 – 8 teachers that were drawing this benefit before any workers comp benefits would have taken over the payments.  The state would not allow payments to be made by the Workers Comp program for teachers.  The school district had to pay the benefits.

Will the Virginia exclusive remedy laws negate the lawsuit?  That remains for a Judge to decide in the near future.  I will report back if any developments occur in the case.

Related: Combined Ratio Difference Debate – Calendar vs. Accident Year



James J Moore - Workers Comp Expert

Raleigh, NC, United States

About The Author...

James founded a Workers’ Compensation consulting firm, J&L Risk Management Consultants, Inc. in 1996. J&L’s mission is to reduce our clients’ Workers Compensation premiums by using time-tested techniques. J&L’s claims, premium, reserve and Experience Mod reviews have saved employers over $9.8 million in earned premiums over the last three years. J&L has saved numerous companies from bankruptcy proceedings as a result of insurance overpayments.

James has over 27 years of experience in insurance claims, audit, and underwriting, specializing in Workers’ Compensation. He has supervised, and managed the administration of Workers’ Compensation claims, and underwriting in over 45 states. His professional experience includes being the Director of Risk Management for the North Carolina School Boards Association. He created a very successful Workers’ Compensation Injury Rehabilitation Unit for school personnel.

James’s educational background, which centered on computer technology, culminated in earning a Masters of Business Administration (MBA); an Associate in Claims designation (AIC); and an Associate in Risk Management designation (ARM). He is a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and a licensed financial advisor. The NC Department of Insurance has certified him as an insurance instructor. He also possesses a Bachelors’ Degree in Actuarial Science.

LexisNexis has twice recognized his blog as one of the Top 25 Blogs on Workers’ Compensation. J&L has been listed in AM Best’s Preferred Providers Directory for Insurance Experts – Workers Compensation for over eight years. He recently won the prestigious Baucom Shine Lifetime Achievement Award for his volunteer contributions to the area of risk management and safety. James was recently named as an instructor for the prestigious Insurance Academy.

James is on the Board of Directors and Treasurer of the North Carolina Mid-State Safety Council. He has published two manuals on Workers’ Compensation and three different claims processing manuals. He has also written and has been quoted in numerous articles on reducing Workers’ Compensation costs for public and private employers. James publishes a weekly newsletter with 7,000 readers.

He currently possess press credentials and am invited to various national Workers Compensation conferences as a reporter.

James’s articles or interviews on Workers’ Compensation have appeared in the following publications or websites:

  • Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS)
  • Entrepreneur Magazine
  • Bloomberg Business News
  • WorkCompCentral.com
  • Claims Magazine
  • Risk & Insurance Magazine
  • Insurance Journal
  • Workers Compensation.com
  • LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites
  • Various trade publications


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