Work injuries both severe and seemingly small have the potential to create substantial problems for injured workers, both medical and financial. Dealing with these obstacles often stirs up a lot of emotions in the injured worker, motivating them to take legal action against their employer. This is especially the case when the employer is less than cooperative following the injury or if the employee feels their injury could have been prevented by the employer.
The way that most people think of a traditional lawsuit, such as suing for damages or pain and suffering, is generally not an option under Ohio law. Most Ohio employers fall under the umbrella of a state-funded workers’ compensation system through the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation. The Ohio BWC can assure that injured workers are protected and compensated after a work injury. Certain large employers may be self-insured but still must follow Ohio law. If they dispute payment of benefits, the Ohio Industrial Commission will decide the issue and order compensation or medical treatment as the situation warrants.
One of the benefits of the Ohio workers’ compensation system as opposed to a lawsuit is that you can receive compensation after a work injury regardless of who was at fault. Thus, even if you trip or lift something incorrectly, you are still eligible for benefits. In some circumstances, there may be grounds for additional legal action. However, filing an initial claim with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and contacting a capable attorney is your best course of action after any work injury. Schaffer & Associates can assess what benefits may or may not be available in your case given the specific facts of the injury.
There are certain instances in which a separate case may exist in addition to a standard workers’ compensation claim. You should absolutely seek legal counsel and explore the possibility of an additional case if:
- Your employer failed to obtain workers’ compensation insurance before your injury
- Your employer harmed you intentionally
- Your employer required you to work under conditions where they believed the injury was certain to occur
- Your employer required you to work with unregulated substances or unsafe equipment
- A third party (not your employer) was directly responsible for your work injury
- Your employer retaliated or discriminated against you
Negligent Third-Party Workers’ Compensation Claims
Negligent Third-Party Workers’ Compensation Claims assert that your injury was caused due to the fault of a third party involved with your job duties, but who is not your employer. The third party may be an individual who crashed into your vehicle while you made a work delivery, the manufacturer of a defective product or machine needed to perform your job, a separate contractor who created an unsafe situation while working with you on a construction site, etc.
In these scenarios, your workers’ compensation claim would pay for medical expenses and lost wages while your negligent third-party claim has the potential to cover any permanent loss of function and/or pain caused by the accident.
According to the Ohio Revised Code, an intentional tort case must prove the employer acted with, “deliberate intent to cause an employee to suffer an injury, a disease, a condition, or death”. These cases prove difficult to pursue and win. If you believe your employer intentionally caused your injury, it is imperative that you speak with a skillful workers’ compensation attorney.
Intentional torts can include “deliberate removal by an employer of an equipment safety guard” or, “deliberate misrepresentation of a toxic or hazardous substance”. Oftentimes this type of situation results in a “violation of specific safety requirement” or VSSR, for which an injured worker may obtain a special benefit from the Industrial Commission of Ohio.
If the IC finds the employer has violated a specific safety requirement, they can charge the employer a penalty ranging from 15 to 50 percent of the maximum workers’ compensation award as established by law. The percentage is awarded to the injured worker or their dependents.
Retaliation & Discrimination
Ohio law says that any injured worker has the right to file a workers’ compensation claim without retaliation or harassment. If you feel your employer has treated you unfairly or intimidated you after your work injury you should speak to a knowledgeable attorney about protecting your rights.
If you find out your employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance, you can still be eligible for benefits. When employers fail to obtain workers’ compensation insurance, even if they are a small business, they are in violation of Ohio law and will be subject to a monetary penalty. It is very wise to contact an attorney in this situation.
How can an attorney help me with my workers’ compensation case?
Depending on factors such as your employer, your method of injury, or your type of injury, your workers’ compensation case may not be cut and dry. Even if you think your case or injury is simple, there may be additional benefits you are entitled to. The dedicated attorneys at Schaffer & Associates are able to assess your claim during a free consultation and determine the best course of action to take in your work injury case.
Especially if you have any of the special circumstances listed above, it’s a good idea to speak to an experienced attorney. Call Schaffer & Associates at (419) 350-8277 or send us a message to schedule your free case evaluation.