New Workers’ Compensation Law: What You Need to Know
Workers’ compensation law is complex and frequently changing. It’s next to impossible for the average person to keep up with it all.
Fortunately, that’s where we come in. The attorneys at Casper & Casper are here to walk you through everything you need to know about workers’ compensation law.
Recently, House Bill 81 made changes to several important areas of workers’ comp law. Keep reading to learn the highlights and how these changes might affect your case.
Life of a Claim Shortened
How long does a claim stay open and active? New language in the law states that a claim ends five years after the last medical service or last compensation payment. Previously, workers’ comp law stated that a claim would end five years from the date of payment of medical services.
Since payments for medical services can happen long after the actual date of the service, this change can shorten the life of a claim.
Statute of Limitations for VSSR Claim Shortened
What is VSSR? This is a type of workers’ comp claim involving a “violation of specific safety requirements.” This type of award allows an injured worker to be eligible for additional compensation, if their employer has violated specific Ohio safety rules. (The additional compensation can be between 15 and 50 percent of the maximum compensation rate.)
The new workers’ comp law shortens the amount of time available for injured workers to file a VSSR claim. Before, an injured worker had two years from the date of injury or occupational disease to file a claim. Now, that time frame has been shortened to one year.
This new statute of limitations applies to claims pending or filed after September 15, 2020.
New Jobs Covered by Exposure Testing
Under Ohio law, several more jobs are covered for “post-exposure testing.”
Post-exposure testing occurs when an employee is exposed to another person’s blood or bodily fluids, drugs, or other chemical substances. This testing is used to see if the exposure caused an injury or disease in the employee.
Now, detention facility employees and corrections officers—in addition to peace officers, firefighters, and emergency medical workers—are eligible to have post-exposure testing costs covered by the employer under workers’ comp.
Voluntary Abandonment Doctrine Changed
When a worker is injured so severely that they can no longer work at all, they may qualify for “temporary total disability” (TTD).
Under workers’ comp law in Ohio, this benefit covers medical expenses related to the injury or illness, a portion of wages, and assistance in returning to work.
In the past, some employers have fought their employees’ workers comp claims under the “voluntary abandonment doctrine.” Using this defense, employers argued that, rather than an injury or illness, an employee’s voluntary action caused their termination.
For example, employers have argued that employees who are terminated, quit, retire, or take a leave of absence unrelated to the injury should not receive TTD benefits.
The voluntary abandonment doctrine resulted in case law that was complex and conflicting. To fix this, the new law states:
If an employee is unable to work or suffers a wage loss as a direct result of an impairment arising from an injury or occupational disease, the employee is entitled to receive compensation under this section, provided the employee is otherwise qualified. If an employee is not working or has suffered a wage loss as the direct result of reasons unrelated to the allowed injury or occupational disease, the employee is not eligible to receive compensation under this section.
Also, the law states, “It is the intent of the general assembly to supersede any previous judicial decision that applied the doctrine of voluntary abandonment to a claim brought under this section.” Essentially, this law is intended to settle the confusing question of voluntary abandonment and provide a simpler test for TTD.
Questions about Workers’ Comp?
We know filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits can be complicated and confusing. You might not be sure if your case qualifies or what the process is. You might have had your workers’ comp claim denied. You might be experiencing retaliation from your employer.
If you have questions and need help, we’re here for you.
Call today for a free consultation with one of our firm’s knowledgeable and skilled workers’ comp lawyers. We’re available to meet with you by video conferencing or at one of our convenient locations in Dayton, Cincinnati, Middletown, and Hamilton.