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Columbus Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Ohio makes changes to its workers' comp billing system

As you may have already heard from news sources like the Columbus Dispatch, Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation recently made changes to its billing system for workers' compensation coverage. The change will affect any private or public employers who are currently receiving workers' compensation coverage through the state and will become effective on July 1, 2015 and January 1, 2016 respectively.

But while private employers across the state are readying themselves for the major change to how they currently pay their insurance premiums, some of our Columbus readers may be wondering what this change will mean for employers and if it will have any effect on workers or their benefits.

Several Richland County employers receive safety award from BWC

As we have said many times before on this blog, providing a safe working environment should be an employer's top concern. When they start to let their safety standards slip or fail to address their employees' needs, accidents can happen, which can mean everything from injuries, to illnesses, to death.

Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is often cited as the driving force in promoting safe working environments, The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation shouldn't be overlooked. They too, along with our state's safety councils, are eager to promote safety in the workplace because they too understand how profound of an impact a workplace accident can have on a worker and their family.

Is a construction company liable for workers' comp insurance?

Ohio laws clearly state that if an employer has any employees, they must have an active workers' compensation insurance policy in place. If an employee suffers an injury on the job, they may seek workers' compensation benefits, which should help cover lost wages and medical bills.

But due to the complexity of the law, even the most knowledgeable of employers may still have questions about coverage and whether they are required by law to provide it to their workers. One question that can arise among construction companies is whether they are liable for workers' compensation coverage or not. To answer this question, we must first look at the state's definition of an employee.

Study shows danger of exposure to particular oil cleanup chemical

A study published this month may start raising concerns about the use of a particular dispersant known as Corexit EC9500A, which was widely used in the cleanup efforts following the Deepwater Horizon explosion. According to the study, which was conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham and highlighted in a recent Washington Post article, exposure to the chemical causes damage to epithelial cells that are found in both human lungs and the gills of aquatic animals.

Researchers documented that the chemical "causes structural and functional abnormalities in airway tissue" which can lead to serious respiratory problems. It's believed that thousands of people, including workers and those who helped with the cleanup efforts after the BP oil spill, may have inhaled the chemical, which may have caused damage to their lungs. Although the study did not conclude that this was the case, it does suggest that it could be a very real outcome for some.

Can I be compensated for sustaining an injury on my way to a medical exam ordered by the BWC?

A Court of Appeals has held that injuries sustained by the claimant while traveling to or from a Bureau medical examination are compensable "as being directly and proximately caued by circumstances that arose out of employment as the original injuries and obligations necessitated by those injuries in order to participate in the Workers' Compensation fund, directly resulted in the new injuries." 

Medical Exams Ordered by the BWC

Revised Code § 4123.53 permits the Administrator of the Bureau of Workers' Compensation or the Industrial Commission to compel any employee "claiming the right to receive compensation to submit to a medical examination, vocational evaluation, or vocational questionnaire at any time, and from time to time at a place reasonably convenient for the employee." The Administrator or the Commission may order such examinations to resolve issues of fact and credibility, and it is within their discretion to choose the physician. The statute authorizes the payment to the claimant of all necessary and actual expenses incurred in attending an examination. 

Injuries can lead to workers' comp and disability benefits

Most people in Ohio know that if they are injured on the job, they can apply for workers' compensation benefits that can help cover lost wages, medical expenses and even rehabilitation treatments. For a lot of people, workers' comp benefits are incredibly important because they make sure that an injured worker is being provided for financially, allowing the worker to focus on recovery instead of their expenses.

But did you know that workers' comp isn't the only benefit you could be eligible for after suffering a work-related injury? As you probably know, temporary disability is paid out to injured workers who are unable to work for a limited period of time. But what happens if that time period lapses and a person is still unable to work? This is where permanent partial disability, permanent total disability benefits, or even Social Security Disability can come into play.

Taxation of Social Security and SSDI Payments

If you receive Social Security or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) income, you will also receive a Form SSA-1099 from the government. This form tells you the total amount of your benefits but does not tell you if any of your benefits are taxable, or at what percentage.

Finding and choosing an attorney for your workers' compensation claim

Although there is no law which says you need to hire a lawyer, in practical terms and regardless of how you feel about attorneys, it is difficult to handle a workers' compensation case on your own. With trained adjustors working for the insurance companies who have lawyers at their everyday disposal, hiring a qualified attorney is essential. Unless your case is extremely simple, a good lawyer is important to protect your rights. Trying to handle your own case may save you a penny but cost you a pound in the long run.

Who may appeal the decision of the Industrial Commission?

Revised Code § 4123.512 provides that the claimant, the employer, or both may appeal a decision of the Industrial Commission to a court of common pleas. Although the Administrator may prosecute an administrative appeal, the Ohio Revised Code does not afford the Administrator a right of appeal to a court of common pleas.