Workers’ compensation in Ohio: What should employees know?

When Ohio workers suffer injuries on the job, they may be entitled to workers’ compensation coverage, including medical benefits and wage supplementation.

People working in nearly every profession and industry in Ohio have at least some risk of suffering on-the-job injuries, or death. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there were 125,700 recorded occupational injuries and illnesses and 202 work-related fatalities across the state in 2015 alone. Often resulting in medical expenses and, in some cases, lost wages, employees may be entitled to benefits through their employers for such injuries. In order to help protect their rights, it may benefit people employed in Ohio to understand the state's workers' compensation program.

Who qualifies for workers' compensation?

With few exceptions, anyone employed in the state of Ohio must be covered by a policy through the state's Bureau of Workers' Compensation, or the BWC. Provided they report the accident or exposure within the allotted timeframe, employees whose work-related injuries or illnesses arise out of their jobs and in the course of their employment may be entitled to workers' compensation. Harm arising from horseplay, pre-existing conditions, natural deterioration and self-infliction, however, may not qualify for these types benefits.

What benefits are available?

Employees who suffer occupational injuries and illnesses may be entitled to a range of benefits. Depending on the severity of their injuries, their work restrictions and other factors, people may be awarded the following types of compensation types: temporary total, scheduled loss, percentage of permanent partial award, permanent total disability, change of occupation, facial disfigurement, living maintenance and wage loss. Additionally, workers injured on-the-job may have the costs of their associated medical bills covered. This includes the fees and charges resulting from doctor's office visits, surgeries, prescriptions, diagnostic tests and rehabilitative care.

How do injured employees file claims?

Injured workers may initiate the claims process with the BWC by completing a first report of injury form online. Alternatively, they may choose to file out the form manually and mail it to a BWC service office. Workers' compensation claims may also be filed by people's employers, designees, authorized representatives, medical providers or managed care organizations.

Once the BWC receives a request for coverage, a claims service specialist is assigned to investigate the claim. Based on medical documentation and other information, the specialist will issue a decision to allow or deny the claim.

What if a request for workers' compensation coverage is denied?

Due to a lack of substantiating evidence or for numerous other factors, claims service specialists may sometimes deny people's requests for workers' compensation benefits. Should injured workers disagree with the specialists' decisions to deny coverage, they may choose to file an appeal within 14 days. Then, they may be allowed a hearing before the state's industrial commission to make a final determination regarding their claims.

When Ohio workers suffer injuries on the job, it may affect their ability to provide for themselves and their families. While the process of obtaining much-needed workers' compensation benefits in such situations may seem straightforward, that is not always the case. Thus, it may be of benefit for people who have suffered occupational injuries to seek legal representation. A lawyer may explain their rights and guide them through the claims process, as well as aid them in pursuing further action should their claims be denied.