An injury on the job can be life changing. If you or a loved one has suffered a workplace injury, you may be able to obtain benefits to help cover lost wages, medical care and rehabilitation.
However, filing a workers’ comp claim can be a time-consuming, daunting and complex process. When do you need to report your injury? What benefits are you eligible for? Where can I go to receive medical care?
The Cleveland workers’ compensation lawyers at Friedman, Domiano and Smith are ready to guide you through the entire process from start to finish. Our firm has obtained millions in compensation on behalf of our clients. Founding partner Jeffrey Friedman is a member of the American Association for Justice and the Ohio Association for Justice.
Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation. There are no upfront fees to retain our services and no fees unless we help you obtain a recovery. Our intake staff is ready to take your call 24/7.
Learn if you have a valid claim: 216-621-0070.
Who Qualifies for Workers’ Compensation in Ohio?
Most employees are covered by Ohio’s workers’ compensation system. By state law, employers with one or more employees are required to have workers’ comp insurance for employees who sustain a work-related injury or illness. Employees must be covered once they begin their first day on the job.
However, self-employed individuals and businesses or religious organizations with no employees may be exempt from carrying this coverage. The law only covers those classified as employees.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, which means that you will not need to prove that anyone was negligent or that your injury resulted from someone else’s negligence. Even if your own actions contributed to you being injured at work, you may still be able to obtain benefits.
Injuries that arise from employment qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in Ohio. This covers broken bones, disfigurement and other traumatic injuries. Workers’ compensation also covers injuries that come from on-the-job hazards such as hearing loss and heart and lung problems.
However, you may not be eligible for benefits if the injury was self-inflicted or you were injured while fighting, violating a company policy, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
What About Occupational Diseases?
An occupational disease is an illness that results from repeated work-related exposure. To file a workers’ comp claim for an occupational disease, you must connect this illness to the conditions of your employment and prove that it was not caused by something else outside of the workplace.
According to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), occupational diseases include lead and mercury poisoning, asbestos and skin ulcerations and infections. Even chronic bronchitis, emphysema and certain types of cancers may qualify. Repetitive motion conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis, may also be considered occupational diseases under certain circumstances.
You may be able to obtain workers’ compensation benefits from an illness caused by exposure to:
- Dust, gases or fumes
- Chemicals and toxic substances
- Infections and organisms
- Physical vibrations
- Extreme noise or pressure
- Extreme temperatures
Are Preexisting Injuries Covered?
Preexisting injuries are generally not covered by the Ohio workers’ compensation system unless affected by a work-related injury. The state’s workers’ comp laws have made it harder for workers to prove that a preexisting injury was substantially aggravated while on the job. This means the burden of proof has increased for the injured worker. There are also limits on compensation for preexisting conditions.
A licensed Cleveland workers’ compensation lawyer is prepared to discuss your eligibility for benefits during a free consultation. There is no obligation to hire our firm, but if you do, there are no upfront fees.
Your employer or its workers’ compensation insurer may ask you to sign a release, but it is important to not sign such a document until speaking to an attorney. Signing a release could hurt the value of your claim and deny you compensation you need.
Can I Sue My Employer Over a Work Injury?
It may be possible to file a lawsuit if you can prove your employer intentionally caused you harm or your employer does not have appropriate workers’ compensation insurance. You may also have a viable claim against a third party, such as a contractor.
This is a complex issue that should be discussed with a licensed attorney.
Independent Contractors and Workers’ Compensation
Independent contractors are not considered employees and therefore do not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in Ohio. However, in some cases, an independent contractor who gets injured on the job may be able to recover compensation through:
- Self-employed workers’ comp insurance
- A personal injury claim
- A third-party liability claim
If an injured worker has been misclassified as an independent contractor, he or she may be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Workers are often misclassified as such because their employers want to avoid the cost of workers’ compensation insurance and other employee benefits.
If you believe that your employer has misclassified you as an independent contractor, Friedman, Domiano and Smith are here to help.
Call 216-621-0070 for a free case review.
What If I Am Injured Offsite?
You may be able to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if you are injured offsite as long as the injury was work-related. You must have suffered an injury while you were fulfilling your job duties.
For instance, travel for your job that was not part of your regular commute may be covered. Perhaps you were running a work-related errand or traveling to another site as part of your workday.
Other scenarios that may be covered by the BWC include attending an off-site business meeting or appointment or attending a work-related social event with mandatory attendance, such as a company holiday party.
Types of Benefits Available for Injured Workers
For more than 45 years, our legal team has helped many injured workers obtain the benefits they need. Under the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Act, these benefits could include:
- Temporary total (TT) compensation – These benefits are available if you have become disabled due to a work-related injury or occupational disease. Your injury or illness must restrict your ability to work for more than seven calendar days. Your doctor must have also restricted you from doing any kind of work or has recommended modified duties when you return to work.
- Permanent partial (PP) – Scheduled loss – If your work injury has caused you to suffer some amount of permanent damage (i.e. loss of vision, hearing or amputation), you may receive these benefits. This benefit is based on the loss you suffered before treatment began, not your condition after treatment began.
- Percent of permanent partial (%PP) – These benefits are available if you suffered a work injury and are left with some percentage of permanent damage. Perhaps you injured your arm and you have healed and recovered, but you will never be able to fully extend your arm again.
- Permanent total disability (PTD) – If you suffered a work injury or illness that is so severe that you cannot recover enough to return to work, you may be able to receive these benefits.
Other types of Ohio workers’ comp benefits that may be available for injured workers are:
- All reasonable and necessary medical and rehabilitation expenses
- Mileage reimbursement for traveling to doctor’s appointments
- Wage loss benefits for reduced earnings due to injury or illness
- Death benefits to a spouse or dependents of an injured worker who passes away due to a work-related injury or occupational disease
What If I Am Unable to Return to My Old Job?
The BWC offers vocational rehabilitation services. These services may be able to help you stay at your old job with workplace accommodations or find new employment. The goal is to get you back to work as soon as possible after your work-related injury or illness with the least amount of retraining.
Our workers’ compensation lawyers in Cleveland are ready to explain the benefits that you may be eligible to receive, especially if you suffered a serious or permanent injury. We are well versed in state and federal workers’ compensation statutes and how they may apply to your particular situation.
Have questions? We have answers. Ph: 216-621-0070
How Do I Report a Work-Related Injury?
In Ohio, you must report a work-related injury to your employer as soon as possible to get the claims process started. It is important to take timely action because waiting too long could cause your injuries to be questioned by your employer and jeopardize your right to workers’ compensation benefits.
You will then need to complete the First Report of Injury, Occupational Disease or Death (FROI) form. This form can be completed online, or your employer may provide it. You will be asked to provide a detailed description of the accident, a medical diagnosis from your doctor and anything else deemed relevant to your claim
Once your paperwork has been filed, the BWC will review your claim, conduct an interview with you, as well as speak with your employer and treating doctor. You should be notified if you have been approved or denied benefits within 28 days of submitting your FROI form.
Workers’ comp claims in Ohio must generally be filed within one year from the date of the accident that resulted in your work-related injury or illness. Claims for occupational diseases must be filed within two years from the date you were first treated, diagnosed or became disabled – whichever is later.
Our lawyers are here to guide you through the entire claims process and help ensure that you meet all the necessary requirements and do not miss deadlines.
Am I Able to Select My Treating Doctor?
After a workplace injury, you have the right to see any doctor for your initial visit. However, after this initial visit, you are required to see a BWC-certified doctor for your medical care. This medical provider or Physician of Record (POR) will be responsible for managing treatment for your workplace injury.
Can I File a Dispute If My Claim Was Denied?
The short answer is yes. You have the right to file an appeal of the decision. You must complete a Notice of Appeal (IC-12) online and turn it in to the Industrial Commission of Ohio (IC) to start the process.
The appeal must be filed within 14 calendar days from the date you received a claims decision from the BWC. The IC will then review the dispute and schedule an administrative hearing close to your home. This process can be complicated, which is why it is best to have an experienced lawyer by your side.
At Friedman, Domiano and Smith, our lawyers often help injured workers who have had their workers’ compensation claims denied. If this has happened to you, call us. To get started, here is how our legal team may be able to help:
- Schedule and conduct a free consultation with you to better understand your situation, advise you of your options and determine if you have a valid claim.
- Research the company in question to look for previous complaints or other instances where the organization may have tried to skirt the law.
- Consult with medical experts to gain an objective assessment of any long-term implications related to your work-related injury or illness.
Our firm has decades of experience handling workers’ compensation claims and knows what it takes to overturn a denial. We are prepared to guide you every step of the way.
Call Our Cleveland Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Today
Need legal help after an injury on the job?
Our Cleveland workers’ compensation lawyers are here to help you pursue benefits for your injury or illness. The initial consultation is free of charge so there is no risk to you.
If you have a claim, there are no upfront fees to retain our services and no fees unless we help you recover benefits. Our Cleveland office is one block away from the Justice Center.
Licensed. Local. Lawyers. Ph: 216-621-0070.