Unfortunately, the way the system is set up the rules are complicated, and getting the just compensation you deserve as a hardworking employee is similar to winning a court case. If you want to receive all the benefits you need and are entitled to, you will almost surely have to get legal help.
Ohio Workers’ Compensation Law
The first step in filing a workers’ comp claim is completing a First Report of Injury Form and mailing it to a Bureau of Workers’ Compensation office. This step can be completed by your employer’s managed care organization. An MCO is a company your employer contracts to manage workers’ comp claims. The report is usually submitted to the MCO by your employer, and the MCO then submits a FROI form to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Comp. You can go to the bureau’s website, and check to make sure that your claim has been filed. If not, you can file it yourself.
The first step for you is seeing a doctor for your injury and notifying your employer you were hurt. It would be a good idea to begin to keep a record of when the injury occurred, how it happened, where it happened and any witnesses. You should keep this running record and continue to document your daily physical limitations, your medical treatment and all information that could help you prove your claim. You will need to prove that you were injured and that your injury was work related.
In Ohio, you cannot receive workers’ comp if:
- Your injury was self-inflicted
- You were impaired by alcohol or other drugs when the injury occurred
- You were injured while engaging in horseplay or fighting at work
The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Comp will review your claim and will notify you within 28 days if your claim is allowed or denied.
What Do I Do If My Workers’ Comp Claim Is Denied?
If your claim is denied, you will have to file an appeal within 14 days. You will then need to attend a hearing before the Ohio Industrial Commission. Most often, because the rules are complicated, your employer or your employer’s insurance carrier will appear at the hearing with an attorney. If you haven’t done so yet, it would be wise to also have an attorney with experience in Ohio workers’ compensation laws to represent you before the OIC.
Because Ohio rules are complicated, it is not a good idea to:
- File your own claim
- Attempt to prove you are injured without legal help
- Attempt to prove your injury is work-related without legal help
- Represent yourself at an OIC hearing where the other side may have legal representation
You wouldn’t want to represent yourself in court, would you? You have every right to do so, but you are likely to lose, and there’s a lot riding on winning your claim.
Moreover, if your claim is allowed, your employer has a right to appeal the board’s decision. This doesn’t seem fair, and especially if you’re struggling with a work-related injury or illness, you may not feel up to representing yourself adequately, especially since your employer or the insurance carrier will most likely have skilled legal representation.
Ohio Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Ohio workers’ compensation insurance offers the following benefits:
- Temporary Total Disability when your doctor determines that you cannot work until your injury or medical condition improves
- Permanent Partial Disability if your injury or disability improves to the point you can return to some kind of work, but you’re still disabled
- Facial Disfigurement will get you a lump sum settlement of up to $10,000
- Wage Loss Benefits to compensate you for the difference in pay if you cannot return to your former type of work due to your injury or illness
- Permanent Total Disability if you are severely injured and cannot work for an indefinite period of time
- Disabled Workers Relief Fund to make up the difference in your disability payments and the cost of living if your payments are below the state minimum
- VSSR Compensation if you can prove your employer violated a specific safety requirement you may be eligible for additional compensation
Ohio Workers’ Comp Death Benefits
If a worker dies as a result of a workplace injury, workers’ compensation pays up to $5,500 in funeral expenses. For family members who were wholly dependent on the deceased worker, workers’ compensation benefits are paid in the following manner:
Surviving Spouse: Sixty-six and two-thirds of the workers’ income, up to the statewide average weekly wage, for life. If the widow/widower remarries, two years of benefits in a lump-sum payment and the case is closed.
Other Dependents: The payment described above until the dependent(s):
- Reaches age 18
- Reaches age 25, for full-time students
- If dependent is mentally or physically incapacitated, until the time the dependent is no longer incapacitated.
Third Party Lawsuits and Workers’ Compensation
Though workers’ compensation bars you from suing your employer in most cases, you may be able to file a third-party lawsuit. If your injury was caused by negligence on the part of a third-party or by a defective part or safety device, for instance, a third-party would also be liable.
For example, suppose the cleaning company that cleans your office building uses a product on the floors that causes a slippery buildup of wax, and you slipped and fell and suffered a serious injury. The cleaning company would also be liable for your injury. If your injury was caused by a malfunctioning safety device, you could sue the manufacturer. Your workers’ comp attorney would know exactly what to do to get your maximum compensation from all liable parties.
A recent example of where Newark employees could be eligible for VSSR Compensation and file a third-party lawsuit would be the frightening accident that occurred in December 2015 at the Arboris food additive plant. The manufacturer’s failure to adhere to Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines led to a fireball explosion.
The explosion was due to the manufacturer’s failure to document and control procedures in handling hazardous chemicals. The workers had to scale an 8-foot fence topped with triple-strand barbed wire to escape when fire engulfed their work area. Arboris was cited by OSHA for 41 safety violations. The four workers who managed to escape with relatively minor injuries had not even been issued safety gear such as protective clothing to wear when handling hazardous materials.
The employees were subcontractors working for Atlas Industrial Contractors, doing a job demolishing old equipment at the Arboris plant. Atlas was also cited for three safety violations. This situation, had it led to serious injury and death, would likely allow the workers (or their surviving family members, had they died in the explosion) to both file a workers’ comp claim and a claim for VSSR compensation against Atlas, the company they work for, and a lawsuit against Arboris, the third-party they were contracted out to.
A skilled workers’ compensation attorney would know how to proceed to get maximum compensation from all liable parties after reading the employment and work contracts and determining exactly who was responsible for what part of this hazardous safety situation. It remains to be seen if any of the employees will file a lawsuit against Arboris.
Isaacs & Isaacs Will Fight for Your Right to Maximum Compensation
At Isaacs & Isaacs, we respect hard working people and believe that workers have a right to be safe on the job. In the event of an on-the-job injury or work-related illness, we want to see that a worker gets all the fair compensation they are entitled to. Our skilled and experienced workers’ compensation lawyers will help you to get the maximum benefits you deserve for your workplace injury or illness.
We will represent you on a contingency fee basis. We don’t get paid until and unless we get you the benefits you are entitled to. Ohio has strict deadlines for filing a claim or appeal, and we are on call around-the-clock to get started right away with:
- Investigating the facts of your workplace injury or illness
- Reviewing your medical records
- Contacting witnesses
- Inspecting the site where your injury occurred
- Inspecting any faulty equipment which caused your injury
- Making sure the paperwork is filed correctly
- Making sure you have substantial proof to back up your claim
We are dedicated and aggressive advocates for injured workers. Call our hotline 24/7 at 800-800-8888, or fill out our online form for a no-obligation consultation and claim evaluation with an experienced Isaacs & Isaacs workers’ comp attorney. We are on your side.