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Columbus Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Your Choice to Choose a Physician

According to the book, Ohio Workers' Compensation Law, written by Phillip Fulton, under R.C. § 4123.651 injured workers are entitled to freely choose a physician to treat a covered injury. This includes both the initial choice of physician and any decision by the injured worker to change physicians. The Bureau of Workers Compensation may require the injured worker to give notice of change in treating physician and the reason for change. Once a claimant goes to a private physician for treatment other than on an emergency basis, the claimant is generally regarded as having chosen that physician. Before 1959 employees didn't have a choice of physician. Choosing a treating physician and notifying the Bureau of your choice is important because authorized payment for treatment is only allowed by one physician. According to O.A.C. § 4123-7-05, the Bureau will not approve payment of medical fees for treatment rendered by more than one physician for the same condition over the same period of time. There is however one exception. If the BWC or self-insurer has authorized treatment where a consultant, anesthetist or assistant is required, or it is necessary for treatment to be seen by a specialist, then the BWC can authorize payment for medical fees. Not all licensed practitioners are qualified as treating physicians. Revised code § 1737.01 (A) defines "licensed physicians and surgeons" as persons certified under R.C. § 4731.14, which certification is limited to medical doctors and doctors of osteopathy. A medical doctor or osteopath may therefore be the treating physician. A chiropractor may also be the treating physician, because R.C. § 4734.09 specifically provides that the chiropractor is a physician for the purpose of chapter 4123.

Can I be compensated for an injury that occurs on the way to a medical examination 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 caused 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." 

What is Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)?

Ohio Administrative §4121-3-32(A)(1) defines Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) as a treatment plateau at which no fundamental functional or physiological change can be expected within reasonable medical probability.

Social Security Benefits: Tips, Tricks, and What to Look out for

In 2017, Two Million people in the United States applied for disability benefits, but only 762,141 were approved. This means that 4 in 10 applicants who claimed they were too disabled to work, met the Social Security Administrations guidelines for approval.1  To be approved for benefits, you must meet certain criteria. You will be denied if you do not meet the basic non-medical requirements, your medical condition will not last long enough or isn't severe enough, you won't cooperate with the SSA, the SSA cannot get in contact with you, your disability is primarily due to drug or alcohol abuse, there's not enough medical evidence, you've been convicted of a crime, or you have committed fraud. All of these things will get your application denied immediately.

What is Statutory Permanent Total Disability Compensation?

Statutory permanent total disability compensation is different from permanent total disability compensation. Statutory permanent total disability compensation is granted to a person who has lost both eyes, both hands, both arms, both legs, or both feet, or any combination of each, in an industrial accident. Similarly to permanent total disability, statutory permanent total disability compensation was created to benefit the injured worker for the remainder of the injured workers' life. However, unlike PTD, under statutory permanent total disability compensation, an injured worker may still be eligible for compensation even if the injured worker is capable of working, or is currently working.

Common Construction Worker Accidents

The Centers for Disease Control and prevent reported that more than 9 percent of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2009 were sustained by construction workers. That year, construction workers suffered 4.3 nonfatal injuries and illnesses per 100 workers.

Occupational Illness

It has been about six weeks since we discussed how heat illness can put people who work outdoors in the summer at serious risk. Many workers are not vulnerable to heat illness, due to the nature of their jobs, but may still develop an occupational illness that makes them seriously ill, and may even cause their death.

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. Th 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 that one hundred and fifty miles for an Industrial Commission service office, unless otherwise directed.

Repetitive Injuries and Workers' Compensation

If you've ever performed a job that required you to repeat the same motion over and over again, then you may not have realized that you could have seriously damaged your muscles and connective tissue in the process. Called repetitive motion injuries, the damage associated with such injuries can take a long time before symptoms present themselves. But in some cases, when symptoms -- such as pain or numbness -- do present themselves, it may be too late to fully correct the damage.

Seeking Medical Care After a Work-Related Injury

In addition to reporting the injury, seeking medical care after the injury is perhaps one of the most important things to do at the beginning of workers' compensation claims. Obtaining medical care creates documentation of the diagnosis and the injury that was sustained. In many situations, the medical care provided just after the injury can help direct the injured worker to more specialized care or therapy if such treatment is deemed necessary. It is also the first opportunity for a medical expert to offer an opinion on whether there is a cause and effect connection between the injury and the diagnosis. 

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