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Can I File a Lawsuit for an Ohio Workplace Injury?

Filing a workers’ compensation claim in Ohio is fairly straightforward. Filing a lawsuit for an Ohio workplace injury isn’t.

To file a workers’ compensation claim, your injury is recorded by the employer and you (the injured worker), as well as your employer, an authorized representative, a Managed Care Organization, or your doctor can file a claim with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC). Depending on the circumstances and severity, you should be eligible to receive compensation while you recover.

Ohio workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, which means you typically can’t sue your employer or coworkers for an injury you suffer while on the job. But in limited cases, you may be able to recover damages by filing a lawsuit against your employer or a negligent third party, in addition to obtaining workers’ compensation benefits.

If you were hurt on the job or became ill as a result of work-related circumstances, Graham & Graham can evaluate your injury claim, free of charge, and help you pursue every possible avenue of compensation.

How a Typical Workers’ Comp Claim Works

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation was established in 1912. Before the BWC, litigation over workplace accidents was the norm, but this often led to stressful and costly legal battles that were not in the best interests of workers or employers.

In Ohio and every other state, the workers’ compensation system that exists today was implemented as a compromise between the parties. When a worker is injured on the job, they can obtain benefits, regardless of fault. And the employer, who must carry workers’ compensation insurance, is protected from being sued by the injured worker.

For a claim to be allowed under Ohio workers’ compensation law, a physical injury or disease must be sustained in the course of and arising out of employment. Also, injuries sustained due to horseplay, self-inflicted harm, or pre-existing conditions are not eligible for compensation. Denied claims can be appealed before the Industrial Commission of Ohio with help from a Graham & Graham workers’ compensation attorney.

Intentional Torts: An Exceptions to No-Fault Compensation

One exception to no-fault workers’ compensation occurs when there is an “intentional tort.” Ohio law allows an employee to recover lawsuit damages against their employer under the following circumstances:

  • The employer deliberately intended to cause an employee to suffer an injury, occupational disease, or death
  • The employer deliberately removed an equipment safety guard or deliberately misrepresented a hazardous substance to an employee
  • The employer’s actions were “substantially certain” to cause worker harm

These cases are very hard for workers to win due to the difficulty of proving purposeful intent to injure. When they have gone to the Ohio Supreme Court, they’ve been overwhelmingly decided in favor of employers.

Even if they cannot bring a lawsuit against their employer, however, injured workers may be able to obtain additional compensation for the employer’s violation of a specific safety requirement (VSSR). Ohio workers’ compensation VSSR claims can result in an extra award of 15 to 50 percent of the maximum weekly compensation rate.

Workplace Injuries and Third Party Lawsuits

The legal barriers that make it difficult for workers to sue their employers and coworkers do not apply to third parties. A third party is an individual or company unrelated to your employer. Examples of third party workplace accidents include:

  • Defective machinery or products used in the workplace cause injury to an employee
  • An at-fault motorist injures a company driver while they are making deliveries
  • Unsafe conditions on someone’s property result in a slip and fall accident
  • A worker suffers a dog bite while they’re on private property
  • Third party assaults upon a worker
  • A subcontractor on a construction site accidentally injures another worker

When a third party workplace injury occurs, the injured worker may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent third party. Importantly, any compensation recovered in this type of lawsuit does not affect workers’ comp benefits.

In fact, a third party claim allows the injured worker to obtain certain types of benefits that are more difficult to recover from workers’ compensation, including pain and suffering and mental anguish damages. Although Ohio workers’ compensation does allow claims for psychological injury, these cases are tough to prove based on previous Ohio Supreme Court decisions.

Graham & Graham Protects Workers’ Rights

For nearly 100 years, our firm has protected the rights of hard-working Ohioans. We understand that you have many questions after a workplace injury. Our attorneys can help you file your claim with the BWC, attend hearings with you, and file an appeal if you are wrongly denied Ohio workers’ compensation benefits. We can also assist with third party claims for workplace accidents. To speak with a lawyer about your case, please call 1-800-621-8585 or contact us.