How Long Will My Workers’ Compensation Claim Stay Open?
by Jacob Brandt | Oct 04, 2021 | Workers' Compensation
The current law in the state of Ohio does not allow workers’ compensation to stay open forever. In fact, current law establishes that there is a very clear point at which a workers’ compensation claim expires and is no longer viable. After the expiration of a claim the subject injured worker can no longer seek compensation or medical coverage for injuries suffered in that claim.
Ohio Revised Code Section 4123.52 provides that statutory language that allows for the expiration of a workers’ compensation claim. Ohio Revised Code Section 4123.52 has been interpreted by the Courts in the state of Ohio to contain a statute of limitations, setting forth the criteria for the expiration of the life of a claim. State ex rel. Romans v. Elder Beerman Stores Corp. 100 Ohio t.3d 165, 2003-Ohio-5363, 797 N.E.2d 82. The Supreme Court of Ohio has stated that R.C. 4123.52 “permit[s] finality [of a claim] through the extinguishment after a set period of inactivity.” Id.
Essentially, Ohio Revised Code Section 4123.52 has been interpreted to establish that if a claim sees a five-year period without the payment of compensation or medical coverage the claim lapses and expires. Cocherl v. Ohio Dept. of Transp., 10th Dist. Franklin No. 06AP-1100, 2007-Ohio-3225; Williams v. Bur. Of Workers’ Comp., 12th Dist. Preble No. CA2013-09-006, 2014-Ohio-1889.
Essentially in Ohio if you are injured on the job and file a claim that is ultimately approved and you have medical coverage or compensation paid, your claim will stay open for five years after the date you receive medical treatment paid for through the claim or for five years after you receive payment of compensation through the claim. Every time treatment is paid for through the claim that five-year period for expiration gets reset.
Take for example an injured worker who has a claim open. That injured worker gets medical treatment on January 1, 2021, and that treatment is paid for through the claim. That claim would not expire until January 1, 2026. Now should that same injured worker need additional treatment that is rendered on January 1, 2022, that is again paid for through the claim, the statutory expiration at that point would then change to January 1, 2027. The same applies to the payment of compensation. Every time that injured worker receives compensation through their claim the five-year clock to expiration resets from the date the compensation is paid.
It is important to always stay apprised of the applicable expiration date of your claim. Obviously, no one can see the future. Quite regularly injured workers develop health complications associated with work injuries after extensive periods where they have not needed treatment. If those injured workers seek treatment through a claim for the newly developed issues that are traceable to a prior work injury, they could see a denial of coverage based on the statutory expiration of their claim.
Therefore, it is important to continuously seek checkups for lingering issues associated with your workplace injury. More importantly, you should seek BWC coverage of those checkups to ensure that claim continues to stay open.
Now under certain circumstances, there are ways to toll the statutory expiration of a claim. For example, say an application for compensation was filed in a claim prior to expiration that wasn’t fully adjudicated prior to the five-year expiration point, the claim would stay open until that application for compensation was fully decided. Ohio Courts have long ago carved out this means by which to toll the clock of expiration. It is well-established law that the filing of an application for compensation tolls the five-year statutory expiration of a workers compensation claim. See Nichols v. Ohio Collieries Co., 75 Ohio App. 747, 31 Ohio Op. 278, 62 N.E.2d 636. So long as the application for compensation is filed prior to the expiration of the claim, a workers’ compensation claimant has the right to see the adjudication of that application to completion. The same is true for a request for additional medical coverage. If an injured worker submits a request for the coverage of medical treatment prior to the expiration of the claim will stay open and not technically expire until the request for treatment is fully adjudicated and decided.
If you have been injured on the job and have an open workers compensation claim that you think maybe close to expiration, don’t hesitate to contact the Bainbridge Firm. Our team of experienced workers’ compensation attorneys can help ensure that your claim remains open so that you are covered in the future.
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