Message from the President

Lisa M. Frisina

Let us know how you would like to get involved and we will make that happen.

Click here to get involved

Message from the VWC Chairman

Robert A. Rapaport

“To accept one’s past—one’s history—is not the same thing as drowning in it; it is learning how to use it.”  James Baldwin

But our initiative goes beyond the Commission staff.  From 2006 to 2019, the Commission has provided interpreters for 11,500 cases in 82 languages from Albanian to Visayas.  It is important that we are sensitive to the culture and backgrounds of those we serve.  The aim is to assure we are sensitive to potential biases that may be implied or subliminal.  While justice should be blind, it should not be insensitive.  We must be conscience of cultural differences to avoid being ethnocentric.

The Commission’s DEI program consists of ongoing dialogues and events designed to encourage conversation on diversity, equity, and inclusion through group chats with the goal of raising awareness and to promote understanding.  There are educational and training groups on various diversity related topics.  A book club that explores literature, both past and recent, related to diversity.  We have a conflict resolution group with a program modeled on the DHRM program to offer conflict resolution skills training/coaching to employees.  The Commission’s program is not to re-write the past or ignore its consequences, but to gain an understanding of where we came from, learn from prior mistakes, and look with optimism to the future.

By understanding others, we understand ourselves better.  Our DEI program will not eliminate all injustices and inequities, but it is a start. 


Executive Director Linda Willis shares the following about her recovery:

As many of you know I took a fall at the Double Tree prior to the luncheon at our annual Conference in May breaking my leg and shattering the tibia bone.  After surgery the following day and spending a week at UVA, I was transferred to Richfield Rehab in Salem (4 miles from our home).  Then spent the next 21 days in the Rehab Center undergoing rehab three times daily.  I am now home and continuing my rehab on an outpatient basis three times per week.  I am so happy to report that I am getting great reports on my rehab – have advanced from my walker to a cane in the house only.  I return to Charlottesville to see my surgeon on August 11 and optimistic for a good report.  


I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who reached out to me during this time with cards, gifts, flowers, emails, and text messages.  Each of you are so special to me and I cherish my time working with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation American Inn of Court members.    Also, thanks to the members of the Inn who stepped up at the conference and finished the day for me and packing up the items on the registration table. 

Looking forward to seeing everyone at events this fall.

Welcome new members!

  • David Snyder of ChasenBoscolo

  • J. Bradley Winder and Alexander G.C. Bennett of Two Rivers Law Group

  • Ashlee Ferebee of Morring Law

  • Emily M. Smith of Franklin & Prokopik

  • Nedrana C. Allen of KPMLaw

  • Jillian M. Smaniotto of Midkiff, Muncie & Ross

We are sad to report the death of Jody Jiral, in June 2023, after a very brief illness.  While not a member of the IOC, Jody was a member of our workers’ compensation community for over 20 years, most recently as a Judicial Assistant to several Deputy Commissioners, including Deputy Commissioner Roach.  Jody was kind, compassionate, outgoing, and fun, had an incredible work ethic, and could throw one heck of a party.

Member Spotlight

Richard D. Lucas


J. David Griffin


Have you ever met or known anyone famous?

Objection, ambiguous and vague.  Andy Warhol said everyone would be famous for 15 minutes.  But yes, I met Steve Jobs shortly after he left Apple and was headed back to rescue the company after creating Next as his next company.  My dad’s fraternity brother Edgar Woolard was on the Apple Board of Directors and they visited our house for an evening while I tended bar for the three of them.  Steve Jobs only drank hot tea that evening and was a fire hose of information. I’m still an Apple fan, but a lot less after Tim Crook took over.

What is your favorite sports team to watch and why?

The very first intercollegiate sport in Virginia through what became VHSL was forensics. It remains a competitive sport in Virginia, and I have thoroughly enjoyed serving as a judge/coach for years.  My favorite contact sport (which is probably what you were really asking) remains soccer.

What was your first job?

I was an illegal hire at Shoney’s restaurant serving as an assistant cook running the grill at age 13. I was supposed to be a bus boy, but they needed the cook more.

Where would you most like to travel where you have not yet visited?

The remaining parts of New Zealand that I haven’t yet explored.  Best. Place. Ever.

What do you do in your spare time?

Ride my Harley Davidson on the backroads of the Blue Ridge.

What was the last television show you watched and why did you choose it? What is your favorite television show?  

I love the brutal sarcasm in the post Disney purchase of the Simpsons.

What is your favorite holiday and why?

Veteran’s Day.  It is an annual reminder of the costs of Democracy and that to remain free we must make sacrifices.  We honor the memories of those who made the ultimate sacrifice as well as all those who served in our Uniformed Services.

When is the last time you stayed up past 4 in the morning?

March 25, 2023. Every year since I was 18, I try to spend a night with a woodland campfire reflecting and listening.

Under the leadership of Chairman Rapaport, the Commission undertook a pilot program to expedite claims for medical treatment on January 1, 2022.  After collaborating with colleagues in Georgia, who have a similar procedure, the program was designed to isolate claims for medical treatment and quickly move them through the system. 

When the program began in January 2022, Commission staff in the Claims Services Department screened Requests for Hearing.  If these criteria were met, the case was selected for the pilot program:

  1. An Award was previously entered for the body part requiring treatment.

  2. The authorized medical provider recommended medical treatment/testing.

  3. A single issue of medical treatment was claimed.

  4. Both sides were represented by counsel.

  5. Both attorneys participated in WebFile.

Defense attorneys in claims selected were given notice that they could accept or deny the claim within 7 days. Denied claims were sent to the hearing docket; accepted claims were memorialized for the record.  If no response was received, the claim was referred to Chief Deputy Commissioner Jim Szablewicz who scheduled a telephone conference with the attorneys to discuss the issue.  If not accepted before or during the telephone conference, the claim might then be referred to the hearing docket, to the ADR Department for mediation, or placed on administrative hold.  Administrative hold is available only if both parties agree.  The claim is then held in abeyance by the Commission until one side or the other asks for referral to the docket. 

Of his experiences conducting the telephone conferences, the Chief Deputy Commissioner says:

My involvement in the PMT project has been the most meaningful and impactful work in my 22 years at the Commission.  The cooperation and candor of counsel in the conferences I have conducted has been remarkable.  We have a hashtag saying at the Commission that #WeWorkAsOne.  The support of the Inn of Court and embrace of the PMT project by counsel on both sides of the bar is proof that this cooperative spirit extends to the entire workers’ compensation community in Virginia and is not confined just to our agency.


The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Inn of Court created a subcommittee to provide feedback to the Commission from both sides of the bar. The subcommittee consisted of Kathy Walsh, David Griffin, Brenda Moses, Marilyn Harvey, and Debbie Blevins.  Presentations were made to various bar groups by Chairman Rapaport, Chief Deputy Commissioner Szablewicz, and Deputy Commissioner Blevins.  In response to feedback from the legal community, pro se claimants were added to the pilot program as of September 1,2022.

During the course of the year the number of petitions processed grew, as the bar embraced the program.   PMT claims were processed in the Claims Department in an average of 6 days; those going to Judicial for the telephone conference took an additional average of 8.5 days.  Of the 351 petitions to go through the pilot program in 2022, approximately half were accepted and never went to a hearing docket.

In 2023 the Inn of Court subcommittee continued to provide feedback.  As of June 2023, one of those recommendations was implemented.  Claims are now accepted where more than one issue is raised if all issues are seeking authorization for medical treatment from the same treating physician. 

Another recommendation, that a form be developed for use by claimants and claimants’ attorneys, is being implemented by the Commission.  A form has been developed, and should be available on the Commission’s website in September 2023. 

At the Advisory Conference meeting in May 2023 in Charlottesville, members voted to have the subcommittee draft a rule to provide a legal basis for the institutionalization of the program. The Commission and the Inn of Court PMT subcommittee continue to solicit input from the public and the legal community.

In June 2023 the Commission added automation of the process to its formal list of additions and updates to the claims computer processing system.  The project scored as high as is possible in part because of the public demand, as evidenced by the Inn of Court recommendations. 

In the first half of 2023, 314 Petitions for Medical Treatment have already been filed with the Commission. In June 2023, the time for completion of processing dropped to an average of 10.7 days, 6 in Claims Services and 4.7 in Judicial.  Of the cases completed in Claims Services in June, treatment was accepted in 46% of the cases, and denied in 54%.  Of the cases completed in Judicial in June,67.9% of the time treatment was authorized. As one attorney said, “Jim (Chief Deputy Commissioner Szablewicz) makes a huge difference.”

In reflecting on the success thus far, Chairman Bob Rapaport wrote:

The PMT program, like any program, is only as good as the people implementing it and the acceptance of those for whom it is designed to help.  By those criteria, the program has been a huge success.  Under the stewardship of Debbie Blevins and Jim Szablewicz the system has performed beyond expectations and the bar has embraced the program with great enthusiasm.

What to do if you have a security concern regarding a workers’ compensation case:

  1. If there is an immediate threat to you or your office, call 911.

  2. If the case is pending on a Deputy Commissioner’s docket, call that Deputy Commissioner’s office to provide details of the security concern.

  3. If the case is not pending on a docket, call the Clerk’s Office to provide details of the security concern.

  4. If you prefer to put the concern in a confidential writing, file it either via fax or mail and request that it be sealed.

  5. Notify the Commission of a security concern as soon as possible; don’t wait until the eve of a hearing.

  6. Consider whether the hearing should proceed via WebEx to minimize any security threat and request same where appropriate..

Point to Ponder

As a result of the recent pandemic, more companies are exploring permanent remote work options for employees.  If your firm permits remote work, you have likely considered and put into place policies and procedures to track your team’s time and productivity. Do you also have a policy or procedure in place that lets you know what to do if, unexpectedly, you have not heard from a remote employee?  You may need to initiate a welfare check on that employee.  Work with your firm’s HR department to confirm proper emergency contact protocols are in place, and ensure the firm has up-to-date physical addresses and phone numbers as well as emergency contacts for all employees. Checking on the wellbeing of a remote worker who may be at risk might save their life.


Of the full and final mediations completed in June 2023, 93% resulted in settlement!

At the September 2022 meeting, members of the Inn voted to approve a Supplemental Agreement Form for Varying Wage Benefits.  The purpose of the form is to streamline the entry of multiple periods of temporary partial and temporary total disability benefits and will eliminate the need for a separate termination form.  At its July 6, 2023 meeting, the Commission authorized a three month beta-test of the form in its present format and limited its use to members of the Inn’s Executive and Advisory Committees.  The test period began July 17, 2023 and will run through October 16, 2023.


Save the Date!

Please note the dates and mark your calendar.
You will receive an email closer to the dates with details.

  • Nationals Baseball game - Friday, August 11 – Sponsored by MHC & Mode 5 along with Kathleen Walsh for concession purchases.

  • Adam Shall's band - Wednesday, October 4 - Keagan's Irish Pub in Town Center Virginia Beach.

  • DC Blevins will present a CLE to the group at Lucas & Kite (awaiting CLE and CME approval) - Thursday, September 28 - Sponsored by IWP.

  • The VWC Educational Conference - October 18-19, 2023 – Greater Richmond Convention Center.  Click here to register!

Past Events

IOC’s Advisory Conference, Social, and Annual Conference – May 2023 – Charlottesville

Brad Goodwin’s band Max Power – June 2023 – Castleburg Brewery & Taproom

Social at Rick Lucas’ cabin– July 2023

NoVa Social – May 2023 - Caboose Commins

Kids’ Chance of Virginia

On June 21st, Kids’ Chance of Virginia hosted its 11th Annual Charity Golf Classic to raise scholarship money for deserving children in the Commonwealth of Virginia whose parent(s) were either catastrophically or fatally injured while working on the job.  A rainy day didn’t stop over 70 golfers from enjoying golf, fellowship, and a desire to help children who would like to continue post-secondary education.  With the help of the players, volunteers, and over 50 sponsors, more than $56,000 was raised for the charity.