For most injured Ohio workers, workers’ compensation is the first–and perhaps only–source of compensation. That’s because in Ohio, workers’ compensation is an exclusive remedy. That means an employee injured on the job typically can’t sue their employer, even if the employer’s negligence contributed to the injury.
The upside to this system is that with few exceptions, workers’ compensation benefits are available for anyone who was injured in the course of employment. There’s no need to prove that the employer did anything wrong. In fact, an injured employee can usually receive workers’ compensation benefits even if the injury was their own fault. And some workers’ compensation benefits become available very quickly. But there’s a downside, too. Workers’ compensation benefits are more limited than the damages an injury victim may be able to recover in a personal injury lawsuit.
Ohio Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Core Ohio workers’ compensation benefits include:
- Medical care;
- Temporary or permanent total disability benefits;
- Working and non-working wage loss;
- Vocational rehabilitation;
- Permanent partial disability benefits;
- Death benefits.
Depending on the nature and anticipated duration of the injury, these benefits may be paid out over time or the injured worker may attempt to negotiate a lump-sum settlement of the claim. There may be other types of workers’ compensation benefits available in specific circumstances, such as when a worker is going through rehabilitation or has been medically advised to change professions.
However, a workers’ compensation claim doesn’t allow for any of the intangible damages that are typically experienced in a personal injury case. For instance, an injured worker will not receive compensation for pain and suffering from workers’ compensation, no matter how painful or drawn-out the recovery is.
Potential Complications with Workers’ Compensation Claims
While the Ohio workers’ compensation system is designed to streamline compensation and avoid conflict between employee and employer, benefits aren’t always as automatic as you might expect. Depending on the injury and specifics of the case, some complications that may arise include:
- The employer arguing that the injury did not occur in the course of employment;
- The employer arguing that the circumstances surrounding the injury fall into one of the exceptions to workers’ compensation coverage, such as injuries caused by horseplay;
- The employer arguing that although the injury occurred at work, the injured worker is not entitled to benefits;
- A dispute about whether the the treatment requested by the injured worker’s physician should be authorized;
- Disagreement about when or to what extent the injured worker is able to return to work.
Do not wait for a claim to be denied, delayed, or experience negative consequences that will impact your benefits in the future. It is best to speak to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney right away to ensure that your claim is established in a manner that allows you to recover all the medical and compensation benefits you are entitled to under the law. As with most situations, it is wise to speak to an attorney before negotiating or accepting a lump sum settlement. While the amount of money offered early in a case may seem significant and a settlement may be tempting to an injury victim whose income has been limited and may be facing further limitations, accepting a settlement can be short-sighted and is often only advantageous to the employer.
Typically, a workers’ compensation settlement will cut off the possibility of any future benefits. This is especially risky as it is often not clear whether or what future medical treatment may be necessary. Settling too soon could leave the injured worker responsible for any future medical expenses. Depending on the injury and treatment required, that could be very costly–in some cases, so costly that the injury victim might not have access to the necessary treatment.
Other Possible Sources of Compensation
An injured worker in Ohio, but for a few specific exceptions, cannot sue their employer for injuries sustained on the job, but there may be other options in some cases. In some situations, there may be a third party who is responsible for the injury, or who shares responsibility. One example might involve a delivery driver who was injured in an automobile accident on the job. If the accident happened due to another driver’s negligence, then the injured worker may have a personal injury claim against that other driver.
There’s generally no double-dipping allowed. For instance, the injured worker couldn’t expect to have workers’ compensation pay for their medical care, then also recover damages from the negligent driver to cover medical expenses. Similarly, the claimant can’t receive replacement income through workers’ compensation and then receive compensation for lost wages to replace the same lost income that’s already been paid.
However, a personal injury suit may lead to compensation above and beyond what’s available through workers’ compensation. For example, workers’ compensation pays temporary total disability benefits at a rate of 66.67% to 72% of the employee’s regular income, while a personal injury claim may result in full replacement of income. More significantly, a personal injury claim opens the door to compensation for intangibles like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and benefits for your spouse or immediate family members.
Talk with an Attorney Who Does it All
Not every workers’ compensation case involves third-party claims. But when those claims are available, they often significantly increase the potential compensation. The best way to increase your chances of receiving the maximum compensation available is to work with an attorney experienced with both workers’ compensation claims and personal injury cases. The attorneys at Plevin & Gallucci have been fighting for injured workers and personal injury victims for decades. They understand the interplay between these two areas of law and the importance of exploring all possible claims.
They also know how important it is for you to have accurate information as soon as possible after your injury. That’s why they offer free consultations to injured workers and other Ohio injury victims. You can schedule yours right now by calling 855-4PLEVIN or filling out the contact form on this page.