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Ohio Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation in Ohio provides medical care and replacement income to employees who are injured on the job. Workers’ compensation also covers occupational illnesses. Although both provide compensation to injured people, a workers’ compensation claim is very different from a personal injury claim.
How Workers’ Compensation is Different
In a personal injury case, the injured party generally must prove that the person or entity responsible for their injuries was negligent in causing those injuries. In a workers’ compensation case, there’s no such requirement. With very limited exceptions, any injury that happens in the course of employment is covered. It is not necessary that the employer has any degree of fault for the injury.
Some benefits, such as access to medical care and partial replacement income, typically become available shortly after the injury. That’s one significant advantage of workers’ compensation--a personal injury claim can take months or years to resolve.
There are limitations, though. Ohio personal injury law allows an injured person to recover a fairly wide range of damages, including compensation for things like pain and suffering. Workers’ compensation is much narrower. An injured worker who survives can typically expect to have medical expenses covered and to receive replacement income based on a percentage of his or her pre-injury earnings.
You also have less time to file a workers’ compensation claim than a personal injury case.
Workers’ compensation is an exclusive remedy, meaning that an injured employee typically can’t file a personal injury suit against the employer. However, in some situations there may be a third party who shares responsibility. In that situation, an injured worker may have both a workers’ compensation case and a personal injury case.
Do You Need a Lawyer for a Workers’ Compensation Case?
Since you don’t have to prove negligence and the benefits available are limited and specific, it might seem that you wouldn’t need an attorney for a workers’ compensation case. Sometimes, that’s true. But your employer may fight your claim, or you may disagree with the conclusions of the workers’ compensation physician. It’s in your best interests to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation if your claim has been delayed, if you’ve been offered a lump sum settlement for a serious injury, if you believe a third party may be partly responsible for your injury, if your claim is denied, or if you have other concerns about the way your claim is proceeding.
If your workers’ compensation claim is denied or you disagree with the benefits awarded, you have the right to appeal. However, the time to initiate an appeal is very limited. Your determination letter will tell you how long you have to act.
If you’re in doubt about whether or not you need an attorney to pursue your workers’ compensation claim or appeal a determination, a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help you understand your rights and options.
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