What Are My Rights as an Injured Worker?
If you experience a work-related injury, you have rights. It’s important to know and understand these rights—so you can make sure that you are treated fairly and get the compensation you need and deserve.
Here are the rights you need to know about when you are injured at work.
You have the right to file for workers’ compensation.
In Ohio, nearly all businesses are required to have workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. That way, their employees are covered if they’re injured on the job. (This system is designed to benefit both employers and employees. Employees get compensation to help them cover the costs from the injury, and in return, employers are protected from employee lawsuits.)
If your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, they are breaking the law. And if this is true in your case, you are entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit against them to get benefits. (The only exception is when you are not considered an employee.)
You have the right to get benefits for a work-related injury or occupational disease.
As an injured worker, you have the right to get benefits for a work-related injury or occupational disease. You are entitled to a variety of benefits, including the following:
- Payment of medical care (like hospital stays, doctor visits, exams, medications, surgeries, and medical equipment)
- Rehabilitation or education costs (if you can’t return to your former job but could do a different job)
- Disability payments (if your injury or illness causes temporary or permanent disability)
- Funeral expenses and financial support (if your family member passed away due to a workplace injury or illness)
You have the right to be considered for all of the benefits and rehabilitation for which you may qualify.
You have the right to access your records.
You are entitled to view your records and access your claim. You can do so in person (at a local claims office) or online. (It’s a good idea to regularly check on your claim and the documents filed to make sure that everything is correct and moving forward.)
You have the right to choose your own doctor.
After a workplace injury, you can see any doctor for your first visit. After the first visit, you are still entitled to choose your own health care provider—as long as they are certified with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. (You can find BWC-certified providers here.)
Your employer can suggest that you visit a certain doctor, but it’s just that: a suggestion. You do not have to see that doctor.
You have the right to timely decisions and payments.
You do not have to wait endlessly to find out the outcome of your workers’ compensation claim. It’s your right to progress through the workers’ compensation process in a timely manner. The BWC will respond with a decision within 28 days from the date you filed your claim.
Similarly, getting your benefits on time is also your right (not to mention important for your health!). If your employer (if your employer is self-insured) unnecessarily delays your payments, they may have their self-insured status revoked by the BWC and face fines and other penalties.
If your benefits are delayed, interrupted, or stopped, you should contact the BWC as soon as possible.
You have the right to appeal a decision made by the BWC.
Valid workers’ compensation claims can sometimes be denied, unfortunately. For example, an employer may not believe the employee and dispute the claim, or the claim may not have been filed correctly or on time. This is very frustrating, but the good news is you have the right to appeal the BWC’s decision.
To appeal your workers’ compensation denial, you will need to submit the appeal, in writing, to the BWC. The appeal then goes before the Industrial Commission. If you do not agree with the Industrial Commission’s decisions at the district, state, and commission levels, you have the right to appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court.
You have the right to hire a lawyer.
The workers’ compensation process can be confusing and frustrating. The amount of work that’s required to successfully make a claim is a lot to ask of a healthy person—let alone one who’s dealing with a workplace injury or illness.
That’s why it’s often beneficial to hire a lawyer. You have the right to hire any attorney to handle your case—filling out forms, gathering evidence of your injury, filing all paperwork necessary, and, in case of a dispute, arguing your case.
Call Us with Your Questions
If you’ve been injured at work or have been diagnosed with an illness you believe is work-related, we’re here for you.
Contact us today to get your questions answered and find out how our workers’ compensation attorneys can help you get the benefits you deserve. We have offices located in Cincinnati, Dayton, Hamilton, and Middletown for your convenience.