If you or a loved one has been injured on the job in Ohio, call Johnson & Lapham at 513-536-6000 for a free, no obligation case evaluation.
Here’s what you need to know to understand when you can claim Ohio workers’ compensation, how to file or appeal a claim, what benefits you may claim, what to do if you’ve been injured, and how we may be able to help.
Accidents happen. But when they happen at work and affect your ability to do your job, you may be left with big medical bills and no way to earn a living. That’s where Ohio workers’ compensation benefits come in. They’re intended to help cover your expenses while you get back on your feet.
So, when are you entitled to those benefits?
In order to qualify, you’ll need to meet several requirements:
Your employer must be covered by workers’ compensation. Almost every employer is covered, with the exception of some religious groups, owners or partners who are the only employee of a business, and officers of family firms. Also note that federal employees must file for benefits through the federal government’s workers’ compensation system rather than Ohio’s state system.
You must be an employee. You must be an official, legal employee of the company – volunteers and people working under the table are not covered. If you are an independent contractor in Ohio, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. The attorneys of Johnson & Lapham can help you understand your rights as a contractor if you are injured.
Your injury, illness, or death must be work-related. Ohio workers’ compensation only applies if you were injured at work, if you’re suffering from an occupational illness (caused by the requirements of your job or exposure to environmental toxins at work, for example), or if your work-related injury or illness caused your death. Your medical records and other documentation must directly link the injury or illness with your job.
If you suffer a work-related injury — no matter how minor it may seem — be sure to report it to your employer immediately and seek medical attention if necessary.
If you do receive Ohio workers’ compensation benefits, you lose the right to sue your employer for the injury or illness. In some cases, you may be better off filing a lawsuit than claiming benefits; the attorneys of Johnson & Lapham can evaluate your case to help you make that call.
If you decide that you do want to claim workers’ compensation, the claims process starts when the injured worker, medical provider, or employer files a First Report of Injury (FROI) with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) either online or by mail. This is going to set the stage for the rest of your case, so it’s a good idea to talk to an attorney at Johnson & Lapham BEFORE you submit any information. We can help you fill out the paperwork properly to give your case the best possible chance of success.
The BWC will inform you whether your claim has been approved or denied within 28 days. To make their decision, the BWC will look at:
Remember that your employer will bring in their own attorney to protect their interests and the BWC is a lot like a state-run health insurance company — they want to collect more premiums and award fewer benefits. In other words, they’re not necessarily looking out for your best interests. That’s why it’s important to bring your own lawyer on board to protect your rights.
Generally, your employer is going to want to see your claim denied. More claims mean more accident compensation, which can lead to a higher premium. Your employer may argue against your version of the story; you’ll need evidence and documentation to support your version. Your employer may also try to have your claim dismissed on technical grounds. If that’s the case, it’s going to be very difficult to fight back without the help of an attorney; workers’ compensation laws are really technical and complicated and a small mistake can cost you big time.
Your claim may be denied because:
If your claim is denied, you’ll get notice in writing. You only have 14 days after that to file an appeal, so make sure you check your mail regularly. You may also want to check in with the BWC regularly to ensure that you don’t miss a deadline.
When you appeal, you’ll have a hearing with the Industrial Commission of Ohio. Make sure you bring several copies of all the relevant documents with you. That includes:
Remember: You can and should bring your attorney with you to the hearing. Your employer may also be present; both sides will have a chance to explain their positions. Before the Commission makes a final decision, you may be sent for another medical examination with a new doctor.
If your Ohio workers’ compensation claim is approved, the compensation you receive will depend on the type and severity of injury or illness you have suffered:
Temporary total compensation is awarded when you are deemed temporarily unable to work due to your injury. It will pay for related medical expenses and some lost wages. This is the first and most basic form of workers’ compensation.
Wage loss is compensation that may be available if your injury and its effects lead to decreased wages due to job reassignment or a forced career change. The law includes either working wage loss or non-working wage loss, depending on the individual’s employment status. The first seven days a worker is injured, he or she does not receive payment of lost wages. If the worker is out of work with the injury for 14 or more days, however, the first seven days of lost wages will be paid.
Living maintenance is compensation given while a recovering worker is participating in an approved rehabilitation plan to get back on his or her feet and back to work. These payments can continue for up to six months.
Permanent total disability is potentially lifelong compensation to Ohioans who are indefinitely unable to return to work and perform their job duties due to a job-related injury or illness.
The BWC’s website offers further detail on the categories of workers’ compensation benefits.
If an injured worker in Ohio dies as a result of a job-related injury or illness, his or her dependents have to right to file a claim with the BWC for death benefits. It does not matter whether or not the worker collected workers’ compensation benefits before death.
The amount paid is based on an assessment of the level of support the family had from their late loved one. Effective September 29, 2017, these claims must be filed within one year of the person’s death.
In addition to injuries, workers’ compensation benefits are also available in Ohio to those who suffer from a job-related illness. This can include ailments like carpal-tunnel syndrome for those who type all day or diseases linked to exposure to asbestos or other environmental hazards found in some Ohio workplaces.
The attorneys of Johnson & Lapham will help you determine whether to make your claim an injury case instead of an illness claim. You may be able to receive additional compensation as you recover.
Contact Johnson & Lapham LLC at 513-536-6000 for a free case evaluation.