An injured worker has the right to choose whether or not to obtain legal representation in making a claim before the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and Industrial Commission. Given the challenges injured workers face today in Ohio, there has never been a time in the 100-year existence of the Ohio workers’ compensation system when it has been more imperative to have legal representation than the present.
The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (“BWC”) is now the largest state fund insurance system in the nation providing insurance to over 254,000 Ohio employers, not including the large self-insured employers that pay their claim costs dollar for dollar. Outstanding claims totaled over one million open claims that were funded by assets of $28 billion in reserves.
The BWC received 112,613 new claim applications in 2012, of which approximately ninety percent (90%) were approved. The number of new claims is a significant reduction (down 35%) from only five years earlier, when 171,682 new claim applications were received in 2007. The downturn in Ohio’s overall economy and improved safety measures obviously accounted for some of this reduction, but many workers are currently hesitant to pursue their legal rights under Ohio Revised Code § 4123.
Coincidentally, the BWC offered their philosophy in their 2012 Annual Report that provides on page 7:
“Our philosophy is simple, the less that Ohio employers have to pay in premiums, the more money they have to invest in more jobs.”
Accordingly, the BWC is championing the fact that employers’ premiums have remained “steady” and are roughly the same rates in 2012 as they were in 2011, when private employers received a four percent (4%) reduction in their rates.
The picture is not as rosy for injured Ohio workers who have seen their medical benefits reduced by over $50 million in the past two years and by $100 million since 2007. Further, lump sum settlements have declined by over 50% in only the past last four years.
In this environment, obtaining future workers’ compensation benefits will be challenging for all injured workers in Ohio. All Ohio victims of workplace injuries need skilled legal representation to receive the medical and monetary benefits they deserve. The attorneys of Plevin & Gallucci have decades of experience in representing injured Ohio workers. Contact us for a no-obligation consultation.