Ohio Workers' Comp Changes: Why Reducing the Time to File Hurts Workers

New Changes to the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Statute of Limitations are a Bad Idea. Here’s Why.

Ohio Workers Comp Changes

When you become injured in the state of Ohio, you have options for seeking compensation to help you recover. When you’re injured on the job, you’re typically going to file a workers’ compensation claim.

In Ohio, as in many other states, there is a time limit for filing claims or lawsuits. These general limitations periods are called a statute of limitations. A medical malpractice lawsuit in Ohio, for instance, has a one-year statute of limitations based on a variety of factors (and exceptions, in addition to a four-year statute of repose), while wrongful death lawsuits have a statute of limitations of two years. Product liability and personal injury lawsuits also must be filed within two years of the date of the injury or the date of a medical diagnosis for a condition that was not noticed within two years.

Until September 29, 2017, Ohio has a two-year statute of limitations for workers’ compensation claims filed with the state-run Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC). However, after that date, the statute of limitations will be reduced to just one year, a change that was pushed through the Ohio General Assembly as an amendment to the BWC’s annual budget.

This bill is now the law in Ohio – and it’s not good news for Ohio workers.

The adjustment to a one-year statute of limitations for workers’ compensation claims not only limits the amount of time someone has to file a claim, but it also limits the ability of the injured worker and employer to work cooperatively in dealing with injuries that occurred on the job.

In this post we’ll discuss what House Bill 27 does, some basic information on filing for workers’ compensation, and how the experienced attorneys of Plevin & Gallucci can help with your workers’ compensation claim. We have been fighting for injured workers for over 40 years, and our consultations are always free.

What a Reduced Time Limit to File Workers’ Comp Claims Means

Employers often want to do whatever they can to avoid having a worker file for workers’ compensation benefits. As a result, employers often encourage injured workers to take time off, treat on health insurance, or simply not report claims unless the injury becomes too severe.

With this legislative change, gone are the days where workers’ compensation attorneys have time to try to work with an employer and keep a harmonious approach to the handling of the injury. We are now forced to put it in the system and deal with bureaucracy.

The change to Ohio’s statute of limitations for workers’ compensation is due to House Bill 27, which contained the two-year fiscal budget for the BWC. It became effective June 30, 2017, with certain provisions in place by October.

Although Ohio began recognizing cancer as a work-related illness for firefighters earlier this year, this new reduction in the statute of limitations is a step back for many injured Ohio workers, particularly as workplace fatalities continue to grow. The statute of limitations for Ohioans seeking claims for compensation or benefits after the death of a loved one because of a work-related injury also has been reduced to one year. (Ohio Revised Code 4123.84)

Supporters of the new legislation say that most claims for workers’ compensation are filed within one year anyway, and the legally reduced time limit to file a claim helps employers by kicking out claims that are difficult to prove or disprove after a year has passed and memories begin to fade. Nineteen other states have a one-year statute of limitations for workers’ compensation claims as well.

What makes Ohio different is it’s one of four states that already limits the ability of a worker to collect damages through a workers’ compensation fund. If your employer is one of the 244,000 in the state of Ohio that pays premiums to the BWC, while you won’t have to prove negligence to help recover from your injury, you will most certainly receive fewer benefits than your friends who live in states without a workers’ compensation fund. The BWC does not allow for the recovery of pain and suffering, for example.

However, depending on how egregious the actions of an employer are in causing an injury, there are ways to recover compensation outside the BWC. Our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys can help decide what’s right for you based on your specific case.

Workers’ Compensation Claim Basics

If you’re thinking of filing a workers’ compensation claim in Ohio, the newly reduced statute of limitations makes it imperative that you do not delay in contacting an attorney. While the advice here can certainly be a helpful start to your research, it does not compare to the discussions you will have with someone who wants to see you get the most compensation possible for your injuries.

That said, it’s good to keep some of the following things in mind:

  • Workers’ compensation covers medical benefits as well as some wage loss benefits;
  • To file a workers’ compensation claim, injuries must occur while someone is employed and doing work-related activities;
  • Injuries under Ohio law do not include psychiatric conditions, except for those that develop after a physical injury or occupational disease, or those that occur if an employee has signed a waiver before participating voluntarily in an employer-sponsored activity, like a softball league after work.

There are a few other exceptions to injuries as listed in this post: How ‘Injury’ is Defined under Ohio Law.

If you become injured on the job, you’ll receive medical attention first. It’s important to note that you have the right to choose your own doctor — if you go with a doctor supplied by your employer, he or she is on the side of your employer and can potentially hurt your case. You’ll want to document your injuries, find witnesses, and notify your employer as soon as possible. Then, you’ll file a First Report of Injury form.

Remember: You’ll always want to consult with an attorney prior to filing an application for workers’ compensation with the BWC. The BWC exists to help employers and keep costs down, not to benefit you. Your employer may try to have your claim denied. If so, an Ohio workers’ compensation attorney can help you through an appeal or reopening of your case.

See also: Why are Workers’ Compensation Claims Down in Ohio?

Get Help with an Ohio Workers’ Compensation Claim Today

The change to Ohio’s statute of limitations on workers’ compensation injuries and fatalities further shows the intent of the Ohio Legislature is to ignore the needs of the people. We are in a state where the Legislature will do whatever employers and insurance companies want, even at the expense of the health of Ohioans.

Some of the thousands of workers’ compensation cases handled by Plevin & Gallucci attorneys have resulted in substantial six- and seven-figure settlements, from helping a client who became paralyzed after a fall at work to establishing widow’s benefits for a client who lost his life to employment-related cancer. We also have successfully appealed a workers’ compensation denial that initially had been handled by another firm, getting our client compensation for a psychological condition that was caused by his workplace injury.

Our experienced attorneys are ready to help you with your workers’ compensation needs in Cleveland, Columbus, and Waverly. Contact us at 1-855-4-PLEVIN or fill out our online free case evaluation form today.

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