Do You Know Your Rights Under Ohio's Workers' Compensation Law?
While some jobs are more dangerous than others, the risk of injury exists in every occupation. Ohio law understands this, and therefore requires every employer to have workers' compensation coverage in place at all times. This coverage, which is provided by the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, is intended to provide compensation for injuries arising out of a person's employment.
Unfortunately, most workers aren't fully aware of their rights under the law. Taking some time to educate yourself can make a huge difference if you or a loved one gets hurt. For example:
- You need to report the injury: As soon as the injury occurs - or as soon as you become aware that it was caused by work - you should report it to your manager or supervisor. This will preserve your claim, and may also help your coworkers avoid similar problems.
- You can't get fired for claiming benefits: Employers are not allowed to fire or otherwise retaliate against employees who claim workers' compensation benefits. Of course, the employer may still discipline you if committed misconduct or broke workplace rules.
- You can still get benefits if the accident was your fault: Workers' compensation is a no-fault system, meaning that it doesn't matter who caused the accident. What matters is that the injury was caused by work.
- You should seek immediate medical care: This is true even if you don't think the injury is that severe - you never know what is hiding under the surface, and it is much better to catch things early. Plus, this helps prove that the injury was caused by work, in case your employer contests that later. Be aware that your employer's workers' compensation may require you to use a certain provider network, so ask your supervisor about this before you go to the doctor. If it is an emergency, you should dial 911 and get treatment as soon as possible, regardless of the provider network.
- You can keep seeing a doctor until you get better: Depending on the type of injury, you may need physical therapy, surgeries, rehabilitation or other types of ongoing care. While some people may never get back to their pre-injury state, you're entitled to workers' compensation benefits until you reach maximum medical improvement.
- You're allowed to disagree with your doctor: It's unfortunate, but sometimes the doctors in a workers' compensation plan say patients have recovered before they are truly better. If this happens, you have a right to contest this finding.
- You can hire a lawyer: If your employer or the Ohio BWC is acting unfairly, you don't have to handle things by yourself. After all, if they have lawyers, why shouldn't you? Most workers' compensation attorneys work on a contingency fee, meaning they don't get paid unless they recover money for you.
Of course, these are just some of the issues that might come up in an Ohio workers' compensation claim. If you have questions, you should talk to your own attorney. With offices in Dayton, Cincinnati, Springfield and Troy, the workers' compensation attorneys at Hochman Plunkett offer free initial consultations to Ohio injured workers.