Ohio Workers’ Compensation Benefits Lawyers
The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (OBWC or BWC) provides medical expenses and wage compensation benefits for workers who were injured on the job, have a work-related disease, or died in a work accident or from a work-related disease. The BWC was founded in 1912 and has assets under management of about $28 billion. The Ohio BWC is the largest state-operated provider of workers’ compensation insurance in the United States. The lawyers at Schaffer & Associates, LPA, in Toledo, OH are experienced in helping injured workers in need of medical treatment and lost wages to navigate the too-often difficult BWC claims process.
Ohio BWC underwrites insurance coverage for work-related injuries and illnesses, both for public employers and private sector employers. The BWC helps those injured on the job to cope with those injuries by paying medical benefits and lost wages through its management of all medical and lost-time work accident claims. Some very large Ohio employers are self-insured meaning that they pay benefits directly to injured workers and medical providers. However, they are bound by Ohio laws regarding injuries and do not make the final decision in claims. Rather, the Industrial Commission of Ohio makes final decisions in contest self-insured claims as well as in issues appealed from BWC decisions.
Eligibility for Ohio Workers’ Compensation Benefits
If you have been injured in a work-related accident in Ohio, you will likely be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits through the BWC or the self-insured employer. Many workers fail to receive these important benefits because they may not entirely understand the process. The claim process can seem overwhelming, or an error could be made in the application process that results in an unfair denial of benefits.
Before the BWC, injured workers were forced to sue their employers for a workplace accident; however, employers typically had lawyers on staff and many defenses that left injured employees empty-handed. On the flip side, if an injured worker did prevail in court, the company could be bankrupted. Ohio’s workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, meaning an injured worker does not have to show who caused the accident.
Virtually any injured worker is entitled to workers’ compensation if they are hurt on the job. Yet, while the laws seem relatively straightforward, it can be complicated once specifics are applied. There are instances when an employer is determined not to pay benefits and will dispute a claim. There are also times when the benefits awarded do not cover the medical expenses and lost wages. In either of these cases, having an experienced Ohio workers’ compensation attorney from Schaffer & Associates on your side can truly make a difference.
What Are the General Workers’ Comp Benefits You Could Be Entitled to Receive?
If you have been injured on the job or have a work-related illness in the state of Ohio, you may be wondering what benefits you are entitled to receive through the BWC. Before you can receive any workers’ comp benefits, you will be required to report your work injury to your employer, then see a doctor about your injury or illness. Your doctor or employer should file a report with the Ohio BWC.
If you are unable to return to work at all as a result of your work-related injury or illness, you are entitled to receive temporary total disability benefits, although you will not receive benefits for the first week unless you are unable to return to work for at least two weeks in a row. The dollar amount of your benefits will be based on an average of your earnings before the time you were injured or became ill with a work-related disease.
For the first twelve weeks of work-related disability, your benefits will equal 72 percent of your pre-injury wages; then after 12 weeks, the benefits will drop a bit to two-thirds of your pre-injury wages. The maximum weekly benefit in 2020 is $980. You can continue to receive these wage benefits until a) you can return to work at your former job, b) you are offered another available position with your employer that is within your restrictions, or c) when your doctor says you have improved as much as possible.
While you are receiving temporary total disability benefits you may be required to undergo a medical exam to determine whether you have permanent limitations resulting from your injury or illness.
If you have a) completely lost the use of both hands, legs, feet, arms, eyes, or any combination of two of these body parts, or b) you are unable to hold long-term gainful employment using skills you already have or could reasonably develop, you are entitled to keep receiving weekly payments for the remainder of your life.
You may also be eligible for the following BWC benefits:
- Expenses related to any reasonable, necessary medical treatments related to your injury or illness
- Reimbursement for travel expenses required to obtain authorized medical treatments that are not available locally
- Vocational rehabilitation services that would help you keep your old job or find new employment
- Living maintenance benefits while you are enrolled in an approved vocational rehab plan
- Survivor benefits—when a work injury or illness results in an employee’s death, the employee’s surviving dependents may be entitled to death benefits.
- Funeral expenses up to $7,500 for a deceased worker
What Are Common Mistakes Made in Applying for Ohio Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
You, like many Ohio workers, may not be familiar with the workers’ compensation system. Despite your best efforts, you could make a mistake that adversely affects your claim. Some of the most common mistakes include:
- Failing to report your injury within a year from the time the injury occurs—Even though you have a year to report your work-related injury or illness, it is almost always better to do it immediately.
- Failing to seek medical care for your work–related injury or illness or failing to follow your doctor’s orders—Either of these could completely derail your workers’ compensation claim.
- Speaking to a Third–Party Administrator without discussing it with your attorney. Accepting a workers’ comp settlement before letting your attorney review the documents.
- Failing to hire an experienced Ohio workers’ compensation attorney.
What are the benefits available to an injured worker?
In an Ohio workers’ compensation claim, various benefits may be available to you depending on the circumstances of your claim. The specific benefits depend on the nature and extent of your work-related injury or illness. Here are some common benefits provided under the Ohio workers’ compensation system:
- Medical treatment: If your claim is approved, you are entitled to receive the necessary medical treatment related to your work-related injury or illness. This includes coverage for doctor visits, hospitalization, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation services, and other reasonable and necessary medical expenses.
- Wage replacement: If your injury or illness prevents you from working for a period of time, you may have eligible for wage replacement benefits. The three types of wage replacement benefits are:
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD): If you are unable to work due to your injury or illness and are under active medical treatment, you may receive TTD benefits. TTD benefits are paid on a percentage of your full weekly wage (FWW, defined as the average earnings for the six weeks prior to your injury) for the first 12 weeks of disability, then a percentage of your average weekly wage (AWW, defined as your average earnings for the 52 weeks prior to your injury) thereafter.
- Wage Loss Compensation: There are two types of wage loss compensation:
- Non-Working Wage Loss is available where you have permanent restrictions that prevent you from returning to your former job, and you are actively searching for employment with your limitations but are unable to secure employment. Non-Working Wage Loss is paid at 2/3 of your AWW. There is a limit of 52 weeks on this form of compensation.
- Working Wage Loss is available for your injury or illness results where you have permanent restrictions that prevent you from returning to your former job, and you are making less than your AWW. Working Wage Loss is paid at 2/3 of the difference between your AWW and current earnings. There is a limit of 200 weeks on this form of compensation.
- Permanent Total Disability (PTD): If you are completely unable to perform any sustained remunerative employment due to the restrictions from your injury or illness, you are entitled to 2/3 of your AWW for the remainder of your life.
- Death Benefits: If an injury or illness results in the death of an employee, any dependent of the deceased is entitled to wage replacement and payment for funeral expenses. Typically, death benefits are paid at 2/3 of the deceased’s AWW.
- Vocation Rehabilitation: If your injury results in permanent restrictions that prevent you from returning to your former job, you may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services. These services include vocational counseling, job training, job placement assistance, and other related support to help you re-enter the workforce.
What Are Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits?
When an injured worker passes away as a result of a work-related incident, their loved ones may feel unsure of where to turn for assistance. According to Ohio Revised Code §4123.59, the dependents of an employee who died as a result of an occupational illness or injury are entitled to benefits.
If there is one dependent, that person will receive sixty-six and two-thirds percent of the employee’s former weekly wage. On the other hand, if there is more than one dependent, the employee’s average weekly wage will be distributed among the surviving loved ones. The administrator of the workers’ compensation will be responsible for apportioning these benefits.
Death benefits are available to family members who relied on the worker’s income before they passed away. Under the law, the following individuals are usually considered entirely reliant on the worker’s income and therefore entitled to full death benefits:
- Surviving spouse who resided with the worker at the time of their death or who was separated from the worker due to aggression or violence
- Minor children under the age of 18
- Children under the age of 25 who are enrolled in a full-time accredited educational institution
- Adult children who are unable to work due to physical or mental disability
The case administrator will take several factors into consideration when determining the percentage of benefits available to loved ones, including how reliant the individual was on the worker’s income before they passed away. A person may be deemed a partial dependent if they counted on the worker to assist with certain expenses, such as rent or groceries, but were not entirely dependent on their income. Similarly, prospective dependents may also be entitled to benefits if they were not reliant on the worker’s income at the time of their death, but the worker intended to provide financial assistance in the future.
In the same way that there is a statute of limitations associated with filing for Ohio workers’ compensation benefits, there is also a statute of limitations for claiming death benefits. Dependents must file for death benefits within one year of the worker’s passing. The application for death benefits can be extensive, requiring the following information:
- Proof that the applicant was indeed dependent on the worker’s income
- Evidence that the worker died as a direct result of their employment
- Confirmation that the claim is made within Ohio’s statute of limitations
Navigating the application process can be difficult for individuals with little or no prior experience handling such matters. Many people seek guidance from Schaffer & Associates LPA attorneys to ensure that their application is completed and filed correctly, as errors can delay the process or result in denial of the claim.
Finally, it is important to note that in addition to death benefits, the loved ones of deceased workers may also be entitled to financial compensation for funeral expenses and medical treatment related to the worker’s injury. The family member who handled these expenses should be the one to apply for these benefits. It may be necessary to provide proof of payment, including receipts or medical reports, for instance.
Do Part-Time Employees Get Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
All workers, part-time and full-time alike, may experience risk associated with their employment. When a part-time employee experiences a work-related injury, they may be unsure of whether they are entitled to Ohio workers’ compensation benefits. In Ohio, all employers with one or more employees are required by law to provide workers’ compensation. This is because all employees are entitled to workers’ compensation if they experienced an injury on the job. Therefore, as long as the worker is a legal employee of the company, they are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Part-time workers, including temporary or seasonal employees, are able to collect workers’ compensation benefits. As long as there is an employer-employee relationship, the part-time worker is eligible for benefits. Independent contractors who work with the employer periodically are often not considered employees under the law, however, and typically cannot apply for benefits if injured. Part-time employees are eligible for the same benefits as full-time employees.
Are Ohio Workers’ Compensation Benefits Taxable?
As an injured worker who has been collecting benefits to cover medical costs and lost income, you may worry that you will have to pay income tax on the benefits you have received. Many injured workers express concerns regarding whether or not their workers’ compensation benefits are taxable. Unexpected tax obligations can have a major financial impact, especially for a person in the midst of paying off medical expenses. This leads to the question: are Ohio workers’ compensation benefits taxable?
Fortunately, workers’ compensation benefits are not considered taxable by the state of Ohio or the IRS. When you file income taxes, it is not necessary to list workers’ compensation benefits within your report because these benefits are not seen as earnings. This includes all types of workers’ compensation benefits, including:
- Temporary total benefits
- Wage loss compensation
- Structured and lump-sum settlements
- Death benefits for surviving family members
As such, you can rest assured that you will not experience any unexpected tax burdens directly related to your workers’ compensation benefits. Any wages or salary that you earn after returning to work with a partial disability while still receiving benefits, however, will be taxed as income. An experienced attorney can provide more detailed insight regarding tax responsibilities to help you avoid penalties or audits for misreporting income on your report.
It is important to note that the specific amount and duration of benefits can vary depending on individual circumstances, statutory limits, and other factors. The attorneys at Schaffer & Associates, LPA, have many years of experience assisting Ohio workers injured on the job or have developed a work-related illness. We will ensure you get the medical treatment you need for your health and your future, as well as wage replacement compensation to lessen your financial strain. If you suffered a severe on-the-job injury that has caused a permanent impairment, we will fight for the lost wage compensation you need and deserve. If your work-related injury was the result of a negligent third party, our attorneys will obtain compensation above and beyond what your Ohio workers’ compensation provides. Contact Schaffer & Associates today for a comprehensive evaluation of your workplace injury or work-related illness
Getting the Help You Need from Schaffer & Associates Toledo Team
The attorneys at Schaffer & Associates, LPA, have many years of experience assisting Ohio workers injured on the job or have developed a work-related illness. We will ensure you get the medical treatment you need for your health and your future, as well as wage replacement compensation to lessen your financial strain. If you suffered a severe on-the-job injury that has caused a permanent impairment, we will fight for the lost wage compensation you need and deserve. If your work-related injury was the result of a negligent third party, our attorneys will obtain compensation above and beyond what your Ohio workers’ compensation provides. Contact Schaffer & Associates today for a comprehensive evaluation of your workplace injury or work-related illness.