Make sure you protect your rights with an attorney on your side.
If you're hurt on the job, you should get workers' compensation, regardless of fault. Workers' compensation insurance should pay for the full cost of your reasonable and necessary medical treatment for your work injury. It should also cover partial replacement of your lost wages if you are unable to work due to the injury.
However, while that seems simple enough in theory, the process can be more complex in practice. There are several reasons why a claim can be denied or disputed, and whether you're dealing with the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation or a self-insured employer, you can be confident that they'll be looking for opportunities to pay you as little as possible or nothing at all. Know what you're dealing with — and get an experienced workers' compensation attorney on your side.
Reason 1: Not reporting the injury or filing the claim in a timely manner
When you are hurt at work in Ohio, you need to notify your employer as promptly as possible. If your employer has a procedure to report work injuries in writing, follow that procedure. Otherwise, notify your supervisor or manager — and do it in writing. Even if your employer does not require a written report, it's important to have it on paper for your own records so that you can later prove that you did promptly report the work injury.
Time is likewise of the essence when it comes to filing a workers' compensation claim. (Notifying your employer is not filing a claim!) In Ohio, you generally have one year from the date of the injury to file a workers' compensation claim. Again, we recommend doing so as soon as possible to protect your rights. A missed deadline can doom your claim.
Reason 2: Your injury was not work-related or otherwise not compensable
Workers' compensation only pays for injuries suffered in the course and scope of your employment, so one reason to deny a claim is to argue that you weren't on the job when the injury happened. Depending on the circumstances of the injury, this can be contentious. For instance, it is not always clear where your commute ends and your workplace begins. Or they may argue you had a pre-existing medical condition and thus your injury isn't covered.
There are a few other very specific reasons why a work injury may not be compensable in Ohio; for instance, if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if you were doing something illegal at work when you were injured. The insurance carrier (whether that's the Bureau of Workers' Compensation or your self-insured employer) needs to prove that one of these limited exceptions applies if they want to deny your claim on that basis.
Reason 3: You didn't seek medical care or follow your doctor's instructions
Getting immediate medical attention is critical if you're hurt on the job. You need to be evaluated by a doctor in order to document the nature and extent of your injuries. Seeing a doctor also establishes a timeline of what happened, which makes it harder for the insurer to dispute when and where the injury happened.
In addition, you need to follow your doctor's instructions, including any restrictions you may have at work. This is not only important for your health but also helps to protect your legal rights.
The sooner you talk to a workers' compensation attorney, the better.
Dealing with the workers' compensation system in Ohio can be difficult, and even a single mistake can have a significant negative impact on your claim. That's why it's in your interest to at least discuss your options with an experienced workers' compensation lawyer. We can guide you through the process and make sure you hit all applicable deadlines and legal requirements to move your claim forward. We can also investigate any other options for compensation for your work injury in order to maximize your recovery.
If you've been hurt on the job in Ohio, make sure your legal rights are protected. Contact the experienced work injury attorneys at Hochman & Plunkett Co., L.P.A. for a free consultation.