If you’ve been injured at work, you probably have a lot of questions. Do you have a right to workers’ compensation? How do you file a claim? Can you pick your doctor?
We’ll answer all of the above questions—and more—to help you understand the basics of workers’ compensation. Let’s get started.
#1 What is workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation is, in a nutshell, a form of insurance that most employers (with few exceptions) are required to have by the government. Under workers’ compensation law, the employer is covered if their employees are injured at work or develop a work-related illness, and the employees can receive benefits paid for by the workers’ compensation insurance.
#2 What kind of injuries are covered?
Workers’ compensation covers most, but not all, injuries and illnesses. It covers sudden injuries—like falling off a ladder—and injuries that occur over time—like repetitive stress injuries. It also covers illness caused by working conditions, like asbestos-related mesothelioma.
There are a few exceptions. In Ohio, workers’ compensation does not cover self-inflicted injuries (like those from a fight, for example), injuries sustained while the employee was committing a crime, and injuries sustained because the employee was intoxicated or on drugs. It also doesn’t cover psychological conditions, like depression or PTSD.
In order for the injury or illness to be covered, it has to have occurred at work or in the course of employment. For example, if you suffer an injury in a car accident on your way to work from your house, in most cases, this will not be covered. However, if you suffer an injury in a car accident while driving to visit a client during the workday, this may be covered.
#3 How do I know if I qualify?
Businesses that carry workers’ compensation insurance are required to cover all of their employees. This includes full-time, part time, and even seasonal employees.
That said, it’s important to remember that—when it comes to workers’ compensation—employee does not mean “anyone who does work for the business.” Independent contractors (also called freelance workers) are not covered by workers’ compensation. Volunteers are also not covered.
#4 What benefits does workers’ compensation give?
Workers’ compensation offers a number of benefits for an injured employee. In addition to covering medical expenses (like hospital stays, exams, medications, and surgeries), workers’ compensation may cover rehabilitation, job training, and temporary or permanent disability. If an employee passes away, workers’ compensation may cover funeral expenses and lost wages for the spouse and dependents of the employee.
#5 How do I file a claim?
If you have been injured at work or believe that an illness is work-related, the first thing to do is notify your employer (after seeking medical care, of course). Then, you (or your employer) can file a First Report of Injury (FROI) to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC). This report can be done either by mail or online.
It’s important to remember that workers’ compensation claims have a statute of limitations. This means that there is a time limit on your claim. In Ohio, you have one year from the date of a physical injury to file a claim with the BWC. In the case of an occupational disease, you have six months from the diagnosis or two years from the date that the disease caused disability. If you don’t file a claim during this time period, you will be forever barred from doing so.
#6 What’s the workers’ compensation process like?
The workers’ compensation claims process can vary wildly, depending on the specifics of each case. In some cases, the employee, employer, and insurer are all on the same page, allowing the claims process to proceed smoothly. In other cases, the employer may attempt to fight the employee’s claim. In still other cases, what should have been a cut-and-dry claim is denied because it was not filed correctly or was missing paperwork.
The workers’ compensation system is notoriously difficult for the average person to navigate. It’s often a good idea to seek the advice of an experienced Ohio workers’ compensation attorney.
#7 Can I pick my doctor?
In Ohio, injured workers are allowed to choose any doctor for their first visit. After that, however, you must see a BWC-certified provider. If you see a non-certified doctor, you will be responsible for all medical costs.
#8 Can I sue my employer over a work-related injury or illness?
In most cases, the answer to this question is no; however, there are some exceptions. For example, employees may sue if their employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance. They may also sue if their employer intentionally injured them.
Questions? Call Us Today
We hope these questions have helped you understand what workers’ compensation is and what to expect during the process. For more information, or to speak with a dedicated workers’ compensation attorney, please call us today. We are happy to discuss your case with you during a free consultation.