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Evolution of Workers’ Rights in Ohio


Learn About Injured Employees’ Rights in Ohio from an Experienced Columbus Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Today, injured employees in Ohio have clear legal rights. Injured employees can file for benefits with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) or their employer, and they can hire a Columbus workers’ compensation attorney to represent them at no out-of-pocket cost. Injured employees can seek the full benefits they deserve without fear of retaliation, and if their employers retaliate illegally, they are entitled to additional remedies under Ohio law.

But this wasn’t always the case.

Ohio hasn’t always had a workers’ compensation law. Before the law came into existence, injured employees had to take a very different path to try to recover the financial compensation they deserved. This was much more difficult, and the laws that existed at the time often provided their employers with strong defenses to liability.

The History of Workers’ Compensation in Ohio

Ohio’s workers’ compensation law dates back to 1911. Before the Ohio legislature passed the Workers’ Compensation Act in 1911, injured employees had to sue their employers for just compensation when they suffered job-related injuries. Filing a successful lawsuit required proof of negligence—and employers would often defend against employees’ claims by blaming them for their own injuries. Successful claims were uncommon, and, as the Ohio Attorney General explains, “[i]n are instances when injured workers won their tort lawsuits, they received large punitive damages awards that sometimes bankrupted their employer.”

The Workers’ Compensation Act established Ohio’s “no-fault” workers’ compensation system, which remains in place today. Under this system, employees do not need to prove negligence in order to recover benefits for their job-related injuries. Employees also do not need to sue their employers—and they are prohibited from suing their employers in most cases. This historical compromise was intended to balance employees’ and employers’ interests while providing a workable system that ensures compensation is available to all injured workers.

After the Ohio legislature enacted the Workers’ Compensation Act, we didn’t see any major changes in the law for over 50 years. But, over the past half decade, we have seen some notable developments, including:

  • Eliminating the Workers’ Compensation Act’s original arbitrary limit on the benefits available to injured employees;
  • Eliminating exclusions for domestic workers, farm workers, and certain other employees;
  • Adding wage replacement benefits as a form of compensation available to injured employees;
  • Increasing the maximum weekly benefit amount to 200 percent of Ohio’s average weekly wage; and,
  • Increasing the threshold for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation’s (BWC) medical-only claims program to $5,000.

Request a Free Consultation with an Experienced Columbus Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Do you need to know more about your legal rights as an injured employee in Ohio? If so, we invite you to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at Malek & Malek Law Firm. To speak with an experienced Columbus workers’ compensation lawyer in confidence as soon as possible, please call 888-444-7440 or tell us how we can reach you online today.