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April 2014 Archives

Going To and From Your Place of Employment

Even though most forms of employment require the employee to commute from their home to the location of the employment, workers' are not always protected against all the perils of that journey by the workers' compensation system. To aid in determining whether an injury occured within the course and scope of a claimant's employment, the courts have developed a rule known as the "going and coming" rule. Under this rule, an employee injured while traveling to or from a fixed place of employment does not necessarily sustain the injury in the "course of employment." 

Death of the Claimant

The right of an injured employee to receive benefits is separate from any right of his or her dependents to receive benefits upon the employee's death. The injured employee's right to benefits arises at the time of the work-related injury; while, the dependents' entitlement to benefits arises when the injured employee dies. 

Ohio printing company cited by OSHA for safety violations

Many residents of the state of Ohio must work to get by financially. While it is possible that any of those workers could be injured in the course of performing a task tied to their job, there are certain types of jobs that seem riskier than others. To try to keep workers throughout the nation safe, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration creates safety guidelines that employers need to follow. To determine whether they are being followed, the agency conducts inspections of workplaces. The level of compliance it finds during those inspections varies from employer to employer.

What if My Employer is Self-Insured?

Some employers are self-insured, thus they do not participate in, or pay into, the state insurance fund that supports workers' compensation claims. Instead, self-insurers pay compensation and medical benefits directly to the injured worker. The self-insured employer acts as the initial decision maker in a claim. An injured worker may still appeal a self-insured employer's decision to the Industrial Commission if the employer's decision is unfavorable. 

How is Social Security Different from Workers' Compensation?

Social Security Disability provides compensation to people incapable of working, if they meet certain requirements. In opposition, workers' compensation involves a work-realted injury that renders the injured employee disabled in some way. The requirements for each program differ, but one major distinction is that to receive workers' compensation, an individual's disability must result from a work-realted injury or from an occupational disease. Social Security Disability, on the other hand, provides compensation to people incapable of working, regardless of if they were injured on the job. 

Was she working or on an errand? Ohio Supreme Court to decide

Many employers in Ohio provide workers' compensation benefits to their employees. While workers' compensation is governed by Ohio law, many workers and often employers, and even lawmakers, may find the terms and limitations of benefits to be unclear. 

What is a fast track settlement? Now that the fast track program is no longer available, how can I settle my claim?

Fast track settlements were established by the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation in an effort to close out as many claims as possible and diminish the number of claims in the BWC's inventory. The fast track program allowed attorneys to call the Bureau and settle up to five cases a day without filing an application for settlement.

What is VSSR?

VSSR stands for "violation of a specific safety requirement." In order to be entitled to receive a VSSR award, a claimant must establish that his of her injury resulted from the employer's failure to comply with a specific safety requirement. If the claimant fails to prove any of the elements of that rule, the employer is not liable for any additional awards beyond potential workers' compensation compensation. 

Tina Fey's broker accepts fault for workers' compensation error

Ohio residents may have heard that actress Tina Fey, well known for her roles in "Saturday Night Live" and "30 Rock," has received a lot of criticism in the press recently. She made headlines for allegedly failing to provide her workers with workers' compensation insurance coverage, as is required by state law. In fact, she received a legal judgment in the amount of $79,000 to compensate for insurance premiums that she allegedly did not pay.

Workers' Compensation Generally

The Workers' Compensation system reflects a growing public sentiment that employees should receive compensation for work-related injuries and that compensation should be regarded as a charge upon the business in whcih the employee worked. Workers' compensation therefore attempts to accommodate the correlative rights and duties of employers and employees. Each party relinquishes certain common law rights and duties in exchange for the imposition of new statutory rights and duties. 

The Hearing Process

Upon receiving a claim, the Industrial Commission is required to refer the file to an "appropriate district hearing officer" in accordance with rules adopted by the Commission under R.C. § 4121.36. The Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) identifies what an "appropriate district hearing officer" is. The OAC requires the scheduling of hearings before a district hearing officer from the Industrial Commission service office in the city nearest the claimant's residence, or for out-of-state claimants, from the service office nearest the claimant's home if the service office is within one hundred and fifty miles thereof, or in Columbus for those claimants who live more than one hundred and fifty miles from an Industrial Commission service office, unless otherwise directed.

Staff Hearing Officers

The Staff Hearing Officer holds hearings and rules on disputed matters. A party unhappy with a District Hearing Officer decision can appeal to the Staff Hearing Officer (SHO). The Staff Hearing Officer hearing is the second level of decision making at the Industrial Commission. A party unhappy with a Staff Hearing Officer decision can appeal to the Industrial Commission. A SHO must have the same qualifications as district hearing officers, including being admitted to the practice of law in Ohio. Staff Hearing Officers exercise original jurisdiction over the following matters: applications for permanent total disability awards; appeals from district hearing officer orders; applications for VSSR awards; application for reconsideration of permanent partial disability awards; and reviews of settlement agreements approved by the Administrator pursuant to R.C. § 4121.65. 

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The Bainbridge Firm, LLC

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