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Virginia’s Go To Lawyers – Workers’ Comp Law: John H. Carstens

carstens_johnJohn H. Carstens
Managing Partner
Jordan Coyne LLP


BS, The American University
JD,  Washington College of Law, The American University

Best known for:

My practice is a mix of personal injury and workers’ compensation defense. I have been included in Best Lawyers of America for personal injury and product liability defense since 2015. I am a Master of the Bench member of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation American Inn of Court.

Signature case:

I have been fortunate to represent my employer and insurer clients in many interesting workers’ compensation cases. In American Zurich Ins. Co. v. Martinez, 2008 Va. App. LEXIS 8 (2008), I was able to persuade the Court of Appeals of Virginia to reverse a unanimous decision of the full commission. Mr. Martinez filed to vacate an earlier decision denying his claim, on the basis of fraud or mutual mistake of fact, so he could pursue a second claim involving the same employer/statutory employer. Although the deputy commissioner denied Mr. Martinez’s motion and found that his second claim was barred by res judicata, the full commission reversed and then vacated the decision denying the first case and remanded the case for entry of an award. Upon appeal following remand, the Court of Appeals reversed and found that the full commission had erred as a matter of law in vacating the first decision. The Court of Appeals agreed that that the second claim was barred by res judicata.

Most satisfying:

I enjoy the challenge of assisting clients with their unique legal problems.

Working with clients:

My job is to provide my best assessment of the client’s case; not to tell them what they want to hear, and then partner with the client to develop an agreed upon strategy to effectively and efficiently conclude the matter, whether it be through trial or resolution.

Best career advice:

Cases and clients come and go, but your reputation with the bench and bar will follow you throughout your career, so always practice law the right way.

Looking ahead:

I expect to see continuing efforts to expand coverage under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act for repetitive work activity injuries. As someone who has practiced long enough to remember when the Act was amended to provide for ordinary disease of life coverage for hearing loss and carpal tunnel syndrome in 1986, I am interested to follow the proposed legislation.