Work injuries are incredibly common in the US, as are work-related deaths. In fact, according to the National Safety Council (NSC), there were a total of 4.64 million (medically consulted) injuries in the US in 2019.
It’s important to understand your rights to compensation if you ever find yourself sustaining your own injury while at work. So, let’s talk about workers comp, starting with the very basics.
What is workers comp?
Workers comp (aka compensation), is a form of insurance that helps pay for medical bills and lost wages that result from a workplace injury.
1. Meet The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (OBWC or BWC)
Let’s start off by introducing the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (OBWC or BWC). This is the primary organization that provides medical compensation related to work injuries in the state of Ohio. In other words, these are the people that you’ll want to call or contact in case you have any questions related to workers' compensation.
How to file workers comp?
Most of the time, your workers' compensation claim will be filed with the OBWC. A claim can be filed by the injured employee, their employer or spouse, or their doctor. Typically, a claim can be initiated by submitting a First Report of an Injury, Occupational Disease or Death (FROI) form. It’s always best to check with your employer and/or OBWC however since filing requirements can occasionally change.
2. Notify your employer of the workplace injury.
Let your employer know about the injury ASAP. No matter how big or small, tell your employer about the injury and fill out an incident report if necessary. Remember that failing to notify your employer of the incident can lead to your claim being denied or drawn out.
3. See a medical provider.
In order to receive workers' compensation, you will most likely need proof of your work-related injury, as well as some forms filled out. It might be a good idea to call the OWBC first however and ask whether you can see any medical provider, or if there is a specific list of providers that are approved by the OWBC. Since your doctor may need to fill out some forms for your claim, also ask about those. Most of the time, you’ll have to get your claim approved before moving forward with major medical procedures. So don’t rush into any surgeries or other expensive procedures before checking with OWBC.
Regardless, remember to keep all of the paperwork and payment stubs related to your hospital visit. Don’t throw anything away, since you’ll likely need those papers later on for your claim.
4. There is a timeline for filing a workers comp claim.
This is very important. Do NOT wait to file. For most work-related injury cases, the claim MUST be filed within one year. That means that if you wait 3 years to file a claim regarding a back injury that you sustained at work, it will most likely be denied.
5. Yes, you can appeal a denial.
Many work-related injury claims get denied the first time around, so don’t be too discouraged. You can always appeal for reconsideration.
Most employees are not eligible for compensation simply because they contract Covid. Having said that, in the case that you contract Covid because of your job, you may be eligible for some compensation. Check out this helpful FAQ on the topic.
7. Know your rights.
If you feel that you’ve been treated unfairly by your employer, the OWBC, or anyone else related to your claim, know that you can always reach out to a lawyer. Here at the Cochran Firm Cleveland office, we stand by workers. Simply call or go online to book your appointment.
Can I sue my employer for a workplace injury?
As of 2021, Ohio is a no-fault state. This means that it’s fairly easy to receive compensation for a workplace injury, but difficult to sue an employer. Having said that, it’s still possible - especially if an employer had the intention of allowing their employee to get hurt, or otherwise knew it was likely to happen. Always consult with a lawyer regarding your legal options.
We know that filing a claim for workers’ compensation can be a complicated process. That’s why we’ve compiled some answers to common questions below.
Does workers comp cover lost wages?
A temporary disability that prevents you from working may make you eligible for wage replacements. This replacement may only be two-thirds of your actual wages, however, and may not cover the first seven days of your absence. Other wage-related compensation will depend on the result of your claim.
Do you pay tax on workers comp?
Generally speaking, workers' compensation is not taxable, although there are a few exceptions.
What not to do while on workers comp?
It’s best not to fake or mislead your doctor or employer in regard to your injury. Faking that your injury is worse than it actually is can get your claim rejected. It’s also a good idea to stay away from anything that could undermine your claim to compensation. Posting on social media that you’re “ok” or “feeling good” could be examples of this. Aside from this, just make sure to follow your doctor’s medical advice, not only for the sake of your general health but also to keep your claim airtight.
What constitutes a workplace injury?
Generally speaking, a work injury is sustained when doing something on the behalf of your employer. This includes working at your regular job site as well as other “work-related” events such as office parties. It does not, however, include injuries sustained outside of work. Injuries caused by repetitive use or stress might also be considered a “workplace injury”. For example, gradual injury to your back caused by years of intensive labor might be grounds for work comp. The same rule applies to diseases or chronic conditions caused by a workplace.
Is carpal tunnel a workplace injury?
Carpal tunnel is often covered under workers’ compensation, as long as it can be established that the condition was in fact caused by the employee’s job.
What is the most common workplace injury?
According to the National Safety Council, overexertion and bodily reactions are the number one cause of work-related injuries in the US.
Do I need workers comp if I am the only employee?
Generally speaking, sole proprietors in the state of Ohio may not be required to carry workers comp coverage. Having said that, most other businesses that employ at least one worker do need to have some kind of workers comp.
How does workers comp work?
After your claim has been accepted and you have met all of OBWC’s requirements, you can begin receiving compensation. OBWC will typically deliver your compensation in the form of electronically deposited payments. The compensation amount will vary depending on your medical bills, amount of work missed, and other factors. In the case that your claim is denied, you can appeal for a re-evaluation. Please keep in mind that it is always best to consult with a professional such as a lawyer, or the OBWC. It’ll be important to file the correct forms in a timely manner, so don’t dawdle on your claims and keep track of the appropriate paperwork and procedures.
Workers' Comp Attorney in Cleveland
If your claims have been denied, or you have otherwise been wronged in the process of attempting to obtain rightful workers comp, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. The Cochran Firm can help you get the justice you deserve. We’ll evaluate your case, and talk you through your legal options. The Cochran Firm Cleveland office proudly serves the Ohio area.
Still not sure? You’ll also find that our firm is special in that we do not require any upfront legal fees. Instead, our payment comes out of the final settlement, if, and only if there is a recovery. That means less risk to you.
Simply visit our website or give us a call at (216) 333-3333, to set up an appointment.