Along with traditional workers’ compensation benefits, workers injured on the job may be eligible for additional compensation if their injury occurred as a result of the employer’s violation of a specific safety requirement (VSSR).
Pursuing a VSSR claim is a legally complicated process that involves statutory law, investigation, documentation, hearings, testimony, and strict filing deadlines. Injured workers should contact an experienced Zanevilles workers’ compensation attorney at Graham & Graham as soon as possible after a workplace injury to ensure that evidence is preserved and that fair compensation is paid.
What is a VSSR Award?
Ohio law states that employers must provide a safe workplace and comply with safety rules contained in the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC). When a worker’s injury, illness, or death results from an employer’s VSSR, the Industrial Commission of Ohio (IC) is authorized to grant the injured worker an additional award from 15 percent to 50 percent of the maximum weekly compensation rate.
Most VSSR awards are based on OAC safety codes, which are divided into nine categories based on the type of employment. Examples of VSSR include:
- Failure to provide personal protective equipment, such as a safety helmet or harness
- Inadequate warning signs
- Failure to guard floor openings with fixed safety covers
- Not having safety devices on machinery
- Failure to keep passageways clear of obstructions
How VSSR Awards are Determined
VSSR claims typically proceed as follows:
- The injured worker files a VSSR application award claim (Form IC-8/9) with the IC’s Columbus office, or with a Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) customer service office.
- BWC conducts an investigation of the VSSR allegations. The investigation may include an inspection of the accident site, interviews, and documents (such as the accident report).
- Investigators request information from the employer and the injured worker. Throughout the investigation, additional information may be requested.
- A report of the completed investigation is sent to the IC. Copies of the report are also sent to the employer and the injured worker. The parties have 30 days to review the report and provide any supplemental information.
- During a pre-hearing conference, the parties attempt to reach a settlement. If a settlement is not reached, a merit hearing is scheduled.
- At the merit hearing, an IC official hears the VSSR claim and enters a decision. The decision may be appealed by either party.
Why Claimants Need a VSSR Lawyer
In the event that you are injured on the job and considering a VSSR claim, the process outlined above can be difficult to navigate on your own. Most likely, your employer will hire an attorney to provide VSSR defense. To make sure your interests are protected, you should consider hiring an attorney as well.
Graham & Graham’s workers’ compensation attorneys can perform an independent investigation of the workplace accident to determine whether you may be eligible for a VSSR award. We can also handle all paperwork and communications with the State of Ohio on your behalf; develop and submit evidence to strengthen your case; represent you at hearings; negotiate a fair settlement; and file an appeal of your claim if necessary.
We understand that after a work-related injury you have many questions about what to do next. A workers’ compensation case can be particularly complex if your injury resulted from improper safety measures. Due to filing deadlines for VSSR claims, it is important to speak with Graham & Graham right away to find out if you may qualify for additional compensation. Schedule a free case review.