In the days before the establishment of workers’ compensation, if an employee suffered an injury or illness in connection with his or her employment, the means of seeking redress was frequently to file a lawsuit against the employer.
However, workers’ compensation has largely done away with the need to resort to litigation to settle work-related claims.
Workers’ compensation can offer advantages for employers, workers and the civil court system:
- Workers need not engage in potentially costly litigation. In fact, because workers’ compensation is effectively a “no fault” system, it is generally not necessary to establish employer negligence or even the existence of an unsafe work environment to file a claim.
- For employers, workers’ compensation eliminates the need to defend against lawsuits by employees. Workers’ compensation claims in Ohio do not cover litigation-style damages such as pain and suffering, so it can be a more cost-effective solution for employers.
- Because workers’ compensation is an extra-judicial claim resolution system, courts can be freed up from having to resolve employee-employer litigation cases, making resolution of other matters faster.
Given all of these advantages, is there still a possible role for an attorney when filing a workers’ compensation claim? The answer is, yes.
- First, navigating the workers’ compensation claim process can still be a complex process, and mistakes made by a worker unfamiliar with that process can result in delays or possibly even a reduced or denied claim amount.
- Second, the workers’ compensation resolution still involves negotiations among the worker, the employer and the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. An attorney can be helpful in negotiating the best settlement for a client.
- Third, if an appeal of the workers’ compensation claim becomes necessary, having an attorney to assist with the appeal process can be a valuable resource.
- Fourth, if the injury or illness is attributable even partially to a third party, such a manufacturer of equipment involved in the injury, recovery against those parties must take place outside of the system of workers’ compensation.
In summation, although workers’ compensation has reduced the need for employee versus employer litigation, it can still be very challenging to try and navigate the system alone. Consulting an attorney can help people avoid potentially costly mistakes.