12 Key Terms to Know When Filing for Workers’ Compensation in Ohio
Filing for workers’ compensation in Ohio isn’t easy. There is a lot you need to know, and there are a lot of easy mistakes that can prevent you from collecting the benefits you deserve.
To give yourself the best chance of collecting benefits for your on-the-job injury, you need to make sure that you are making smart decisions with your best interests in mind. This starts with understanding the terminology you will encounter during your claim.
Glossary: Key Terms for Injured Workers in Ohio
What are the terms you need to know when filing for workers’ compensation benefits? Here are 12 key terms for injured workers in Ohio:
1. Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC)
The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation is the state agency responsible for administering Ohio’s workers’ compensation system. Unless your employer is self-insured (more on this below), you will be filing your workers’ compensation claim with the BWC. The BWC also provides several useful resources for injured workers, including tips on filing for benefits and understanding your legal rights.
In Ohio, most employees are eligible to file for workers’ compensation benefits. Independent contractors, in contrast, typically are not. How do you know if you are an employee? Most workers are employees, and if you receive a paycheck and a W2, there is a good chance that you qualify for benefits if you have been injured on the job. If you receive a 1099, you might be an independent contractor, but there is also a possibility that your employer has incorrectly determined your employment status.
3. Independent Medical Exam (IME)
As the BWC explains, an independent medical exam (IME) “is an objective medical evaluation conducted by an independent, qualified medical specialist at BWC’s request for the purpose of clarifying an injured worker’s medical and disability status.” However, while an IME is intended to be objective in nature, these exams can be risky for injured workers. If the IME doctor incorrectly determines your disability status, you could lose your workers’ compensation benefits prematurely.
Workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” system in Ohio. What this means is that you do not need to prove fault to file a claim for benefits. If you qualify for workers’ compensation and you have been injured on the job, you should be able to secure benefits regardless of how or why you got injured (with a few very limited exceptions).
5. Occupational Illness
An occupational illness is a sickness or disease that you contract as a result of your employment. Occupational illnesses include certain infectious diseases, cancers and other conditions caused by toxic exposure, and other types of conditions caused by exposure to health risks on the job.
6. Partial Disability
If you are able to work in a limited capacity after suffering a job-related injury, you may be entitled to partial disability benefits. Also known as a C92 award in Ohio, partial disability benefits are calculated differently from total disability benefits—and determining how much you are entitled to receive (and for how long) is not a straightforward process. As a result, if you think you may be entitled to partial disability, it is important to have an experienced lawyer on your side.
7. Pre-Existing Condition
A pre-existing condition is any medical condition from which you were suffering before you suffered a job-related injury or illness. Pre-existing conditions are not covered under workers’ compensation. If your job-related injury or illness worsened a pre-existing condition, you may be entitled to benefits for the treatment you need for the additional effects caused by your accident or exposure, but the cost of treating your pre-existing condition generally won’t be covered.
8. Psychiatric Condition
Psychiatric conditions such as emotional trauma are not covered under workers’ compensation in Ohio. However, there is one important exception. Ohio’s workers’ compensation law allows employees to obtain benefits for psychiatric conditions that result from “sexual conduct in which the claimant was forced by threat of physical harm to engage or participate.”
Some large employers self-insure for workers’ compensation. If your employer is self-insured, then you will need to file your workers’ compensation claim with your employer instead of the BWC. Self-insured employers will often dispute their employees’ claims for benefits, so it is important to have an experienced lawyer on your side when dealing with a self-insured employer as well.
10. Third-Party Claim
In addition to having a workers’ compensation claim, you could also have a third-party claim after getting injured on the job. This is a claim against a company other than your employer that is responsible for your job-related injury. For example, if you were injured in a vehicle collision, you may have a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Or, if you were injured in a fall, you may have a claim against the owner of the property where you fell.
11. Total Disability
Total disability benefits are available to qualifying employees who are unable to work in any capacity as a result of suffering a job-related injury or illness. Qualifying employees can receive temporary total disability benefits if they may be able to return to work eventually, and they can receive permanent total disability benefits if they are unlikely to ever be able to work again.
12. Violation of Specific Safety Requirements (VSSR)
In addition to workers’ compensation benefits, qualifying employees can seek additional compensation for violations of specific safety requirements (VSSR) in some cases. If your job-related injury or illness was the result of a violation of a specific safety requirement established under Ohio law, your lawyer may be able to hold your employer accountable.
Speak with a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Columbus, OH
If you have questions about filing a workers’ compensation claim in Ohio, we invite you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. To speak with a workers’ compensation lawyer at our Columbus, OH law offices in confidence, please call 888-444-7440 or request an appointment online today.