What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation allows workers to be compensated for most injuries that they may have suffered while working. The idea behind workers’ compensation is that workers would be guaranteed a set amount of compensation for their injuries, but employers would not have to pay large settlements or verdicts to compensate injured workers. Under Ohio law every employer must provide its employees with workers’ compensation. However, workers’ compensation also largely replaces a worker’s right to sue his employer for personal injuries.
I’ve Been Injured at Work in Ohio, What Should I do?
The following steps will inform you about how to start the Ohio workers’ compensation process.
- If the situation is an emergency, seek medical attention as soon as possible. If the situation is not immediately life-threatening, give your employer notice that you believe that you are injured. The notice that you give your employer should be in a written format and should include the date of the incident and a description of the incident. Keep a copy of this notice, you may need it later in the claim filing process.
- You then need to visit a doctor that has been approved by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC). Tell your doctor that you have sustained your injury while at work. This will allow your doctor to bill, treat, and examine your injury appropriately in regard to the workers’ compensation process. If your injuries cause an emergency situation, tell the emergency medical technicians and doctors that are giving you initial treatment that you were injured while on the job if possible. Make sure to keep any records, bills, and documents that have to do with your injury.
- You will need to file a First Report of Injury (FROI) form and send it to the BWC. The BWC will then send a Customer Service Specialist (CSS) that will hold an investigation and assess if you qualify for a workers’ compensation claim. If the BWC accepts your claim, you should expect to receive a notice of confirmation or denial with 28 days after it has reviewed you FROI form. After you have been approved, you should receive compensation between 7-14 days after your approval.
What Types of Benefits are Available for Workers’ Compensation in Ohio?
Workers’ compensation will compensate you for any reasonable medical costs and will reimburse you for traveling expenses for treatment. Workers’ compensation also provide income benefits which are:
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD) Benefits
The first benefits that will likely be available to you are Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits. TTD benefits are used to compensate injured workers while their injuries are still in the process of healing and cannot return to work because of their injuries. You will, at first, be compensated up to 72 percent of the average weekly wage that you made before your injury for the first 12 weeks of your disability. After 12 weeks of TTD benefits, you will only be able to receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage. You can receive TTD benefits until your injury has reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). You may be required to undergo an examination of your injury to determine if the injury is permanent after 200 weeks of TTD benefits.
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Benefits
Your injury may not completely heal and leave you with only partial use of that area of your body which causes you to make a lower wage as a result. In this case you may qualify for Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits. Your doctor will determine the “impairment rating” of your injury, which represents the total disability that your injury imposes on you. Your impairment rating, in combination with two-thirds of the Ohio State Average Weekly Wage, will be used to calculate the amount of compensation you are entitled to. The amount of weeks that you can be compensated for PPD benefits depends on the scheduled injuries outlined by Chapter 4123, Section 57B of the Ohio State Code. You must file a BWC C92 form to apply for PPD benefits.
- Permanent Total Disability (PTD) Benefits
It is possible that your injury could leave you unable to work indefinitely. In such a case, you may qualify for Permanent Total Disability (PTD) Benefits. PTD benefits amount to two-thirds of your average weekly wage from before your injury, but is limited to the range of between 50-100 percent of the State’s average weekly wage. You must fill out an IC-2 form and send it to the Ohio Industrial Commission to start the process. The Commission will then review your case and may give you a hearing for your case. During your hearing for PTD benefits, the Commission will consider the extent of your injuries and how these injuries would lead to your complete inability to find sustainable work. An injury that would qualify for PTD benefits would have to be very severe, such as a double amputation or and traumatic brain injury (TBI). PTD benefits are payable for life, but are very rare.
If My Ohio Workers’ Compensation Claim is Denied, What Should I do?
In most cases, there is no question of whether or not a worker is entitled to compensation. Claims are usually denied when there is a problem in the filing process (such as missing paperwork, or lack of clear evidence for cause-and-effect of your injury). However, it is possible that your employer, or his insurer, is challenging your claim to workers’ compensation. In this case, it is imperative that you file for an appeals immediately. You will only have 14 days to file for an appeal before your rights may start to be limited.
The best chance that you will have for winning your appeal, is to retain an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. You have the right to hire an Ohio workers’ compensation attorney at any point in the claims process, who can you fill out any paperwork and explain what is involved with your claim. Furthermore, your attorney will provide peace of mind that your case is being handled by a professional. It is illegal for your employer to retaliate if you decide to file a workers’ compensation claim, so there is no reason not to take action.