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Why You Have to Act Fast Following an Ohio Workplace Injury

A recent change to Ohio workplace injury law gives Ohio workers injured on the job just one year from the date the injury occurred to file a claim for compensation benefits. The filing deadline—known as the statute of limitations—used to be two years from the date of a workplace injury, but Ohio state lawmakers voted to reduce it to one in 2017.

While one year might seem like a long time, some complex workplace injury claims require significant preparation work. There are also reasons why an injured worker might delay filing a claim. But if for any reason a year passes by without you filing for benefits, you could lose them. Since workers’ comp is typically the only way for injured workers to get money for their medical bills and lost wages, you do not want to risk missing the deadline.

Who Does the New Ohio Workplace Injury Law Affect?

When the Ohio legislature approved the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) budget for 2017 – 2019, it included a provision that changed the statute of limitations on a workplace injury claim from two years to one year. The updated statute affects:

  • Any Ohio worker who suffers a work-related injury
  • The family members of an Ohio worker who died on the job

Workers still have a two-year window for filing these claims:

  • Occupational disease claims. (According to BWC, occupational diseases are contracted in the course of, and arise out of, employment, usually over a period of time. Asbestosis is an example of an occupational disease.)
  • VSSR claims (A VSSR claim is a “violation of specific safety requirement” filed under Ohio workers’ compensation law and further penalizes the employer who is responsible for failing to meet specific safety requirements.)

Why Was the Law Changed?

The two-year injury and death statute of limitations was on the books for almost 100 years. Those who supported the new law said it would speed up the claims process and save employers money. They argued that over 98 percent of workers’ compensation claims are made in the first year, which makes a two-year filing deadline unnecessary.

However, based on BWC’s own research, the new Ohio workplace injury law hasn’t actually sped up the claims process. BWC’s 2018 Annual Report shows that in 2018, 72 percent of workers’ comp claims were filed within seven days of when the injury occurred. Previously, 74 percent of claims were filed within seven days.

Why Might Injured Workers Delay Filing a Claim?

While supporters framed the new law as being pro-worker, some say that reducing the statute of limitations is another way of chipping away at workers’ rights. They point out that injured workers sometimes delay filing a workers’ compensation claim for a number of reasons, such as pride and a desire to “tough it out.” Injured workers might also delay filing a BWC claim because they don’t want to miss work and wages, or because they’re worried they’ll be demoted, fired, or moved to a bad shift if they pursue a claim. In some cases, an employer might even pressure a worker to use private insurance instead of the BWC system, or to not report the claim unless the injury becomes unbearable.

None of these are valid reasons for delaying a workers’ compensation claim. Accidents that happen at work are not eligible for a personal injury lawsuit, unless your employer deliberately harmed you, or an individual or company unrelated to your employer caused the injury. Barring these scenarios, the BWC system is the sole recourse for someone hurt at work.

What Should I Do If I’m Injured At Work?

After a workplace injury, you should immediately seek medical treatment and notify your employer. Notifying your employer of the injury is not the same as applying for workers’ compensation. Before filing an application, you’ll want to first obtain medical documentation, accident reports, and witness statements. For complex claims involving serious injuries, this can be a lengthy process.

You should also consult with an attorney prior to filing an application. For nearly 100 years, Graham & Graham has been making sure that injured Ohio workers are able to take care of their families. We would be happy to assist you with filing your claim with the BWC, or to answer any questions you have about the claims process during a free consultation. In addition, our workers’ compensation lawyers can attend hearings for you and file your appeal before the Industrial Commission of Ohio if you are wrongly denied compensation benefits.

We understand that losing the ability to work and earn an income—even for a short period—can cause serious problems. We’re here to help you navigate the road to recovery, receive the benefits you need, and return to work quickly. We handle workers’ compensation cases on a contingency-fee basis, which means you pay nothing unless we recover money for you.

To talk to a lawyer, call 1-800-621-8585 or Contact Us.

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