Legal Toolkit Ohio Workers' Compensation

What to Know About Workers' Compensation

a

Worker’s Compensation laws

are designed to financially aid workers injured while on the job by replacing lost wages and paying medical expenses because injuries without forcing the employee to sue their employer for the funds. Ordinarily, employees cannot sue their employers for injury if the employer is covered by the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation. Injuries that can qualify for Worker’s Compensation can include accident injuries experienced by workers in the scope of their employment; repetitive motion occupational diseases like carpal tunnel or back problems; and diseases like asbestosis or black lung disease that were contracted after on-the-job exposure to toxic materials. Other injuries and situations can also qualify but worker’s compensation benefits may not cover on-the-job injuries that were caused when an employee was intoxicated or committing a crime. Railroad Workers coverage comes from a different program, FELA (Federal Employers Liability Act) with different rules. A worker’s compensation attorney can advise you of options regarding your particular situation.

b

Employer requirements:

All employers in Ohio have to carry Worker’s Compensation coverage through the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation (BWC). Very large companies can apply to the BWC to be allowed to carry private Worker’s Compensation insurance. Federal employees have a separate system of Worker’s Compensation benefits.

c

Workplace injury:

As soon as a workplace injury has occurred, an employee should immediately inform their employer of the accident or injury and seek medical attention. Ignoring a workplace injury is unwise because of the possibility of longer term medical issues related to the injury. Your employer must offer you a claim form immediately; once this claim form is filled out completely, it will be the employer's responsibility to immediately notify the workers' compensation insurance company and arrange medical assistance for you. At the medical location where you are treated, the healthcare workers will likely file a FROI-1 (first report of injury) form for Worker’s Compensation for you. Be sure to keep a copy of the claim, the accident report, and any other paperwork generated related to your injury. Injured employees should be cautious and non-threatening in their immediate reaction to an accident or injury, especially if a safety violation by the employer may be the cause of the injury. Speaking to a Worker’s Compensation attorney immediately about your injury can clarify appropriate courses of action and the experienced attorney can often procure better worker’s compensation for the worker.

d

Safety Violations:

Employees injured at the workplace as a result of a safety violation, may be entitled to additional award money from the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation. An experienced worker’s compensation attorney can clarify the details of your accident and determine if a safety violation likely occurred at your workplace.

e

Workers' compensation:

the state of Ohio acts as an insurer on behalf of most employers, to protect employees who are injured while working. Workers' compensation benefits may provide medical treatment as well as compensation for time lost from work. While employers do not pass the cost of workers' compensation premiums on to employees, employers may require employees to participate in safety programs and to cooperate in promptly reporting injuries. Employers may also require employees to participate in drug testing. There are attorneys who focus their practices on representing employees or companies in disputed workers' compensation claims. If you are injured at work or if your company needs guidance in dealing with claims and claims prevention, you should consult an attorney with experience in these matters.

f

OSHA:

the federal Department of Labor has developed regulations to insure workplace safety. Collectively, these regulations are referred to as the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). The government has the power to investigate and cite employers who violate these regulations, and it may also pursue claims on behalf of employees who are injured or die as a result of violations or who are retaliated against for participating in an investigation. OSHA citations can be steep, and, as a result, employers should fully understand the implications before paying a fine or negotiating what they think appears to be a fair settlement. Companies should consult with employment attorneys experienced in OSHA cases.

g

Time to file a claim:

The rule of thumb is to file Worker’s Compensation claims as soon as possible. The statute of limitations for filing a claim due to a workplace injury is a firm two years after date the injury occurred. The time limits for claims related to repetitive occupational disease are slightly less specific, depending on when the injury is legally recognized. A worker’s compensation attorney can assess your case, timing of the injury, and advise you about the best course of action.

h

Wage Continuation Agreements

replace wages and health benefit coverage and retirement plan contributions for employees whose workplace injury causes them to miss work. These agreements are usually very beneficial to the employee because they provide better income and continuing health benefits. Temporary total disability is a different kind of wage continuation offered by the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation. Employees who accept this plan will receive between 72%-66% of their wages while off work. They typically have no employer health benefit coverage under this temporary disability plan (especially problematic if workers without benefits are diagnosed with something unrelated to their workplace which is serious and expensive like cancer). A worker’s compensation attorney can clarify the best course of action for you related to wage continuation.