Injured Workers Frequently Asked Questions

Cleveland Workplace Accident Attorneys Answer Common Questions:

 

WHAT DO I DO IF I GET HURT AT WORK?

You’ve been injured on the job. What’s next? To ensure you receive the appropriate treatment and benefits after an injury, it is essential to build a proper foundation and document each step. To best protect your rights, follow these steps:

Notify your Employer

If you are injured on the job, it is extremely important to notify the appropriate person or department immediately. Make a written incident report and always ask for a copy.

Seek Medical Attention

If possible, go to the emergency room. If it is not possible to go to the emergency room, see a physician immediately. In Ohio, injured workers have the right to choose medical providers. However, the chosen provider must be certified by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) and be willing to accept payment through the worker’s compensation system. Keep notes regarding your appointments, dates, doctors and hospitals.

Contact Witnesses

Try to get the names of any coworkers who may have witnessed the incident or who assisted you immediately after the incident.

Contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer

On some rare occasions, you may not need an attorney for your claim. However, most injured workers in Ohio receive their full benefits only when an attorney gets involved.

DO I NEED A LAWYER TO HANDLE MY WORKERS’ COMP CLAIM?

Most likely, yes. The worker’s compensation system in Ohio is an adversarial system – that is, one in which the parties oppose one another. The injured worker’s concern is to receive necessary benefits like medical treatment, lost wages from work, and awards for any permanent injury. Employers are generally concerned about minimizing the injured worker’s benefits in order to reduce their insurance premiums. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) is also interested in saving money, which unfortunately can result in the system using its vast resources to closely scrutinize your claim for benefits.

Injured workers represented by an experienced attorney will likely receive more benefits than those without an attorney. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation rules change regularly. An attorney who knows the system and primarily does workers compensation law protects their client’s rights and files the appropriate motions to maximize benefits.

With our vast experience and deep focus on workers compensation, our attorneys work together to strategize the best steps for each client.

Ohio BWC Is a Complex System

Because of the adversarial nature of the worker’s compensation system, it is important for you to know your rights and benefits within this system. It is far better to have these rights explained to you by an attorney who is focused on your best interests, instead of relying upon the BWC or the employer’s representative to explain these rights to you. It is the role of your legal representative to be your advocate and aid you in successfully filing a claim through this complicated Workers’ Compensation system.

A workers’ comp attorney will be a voice for you in your claim. We know the language, your rights, and what benefits you should receive.

DO I NEED TO SEE THE COMPANY DOCTOR?

When you are injured at work, your employer cannot force you to go to the “company doctor” or require you to see a specific medical provider for treatment. However, an employer does have the right to require a drug test following a work-related injury. An employer also has the right to schedule an independent medical examination (IME). The IME is different than your treating physician. The employer must comply with Ohio law and provide adequate notice prior to the scheduled IME. If your employer or the BWC has scheduled you for an IME, it is advisable for you to seek legal representation immediately.

In Ohio, injured workers have the right to choose their medical providers. However, such providers must be certified by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) and be willing to accept payment through the Ohio worker’s compensation system.

Medical Treatment for a Workers’ Comp Injury

If you are having a difficult time locating a physician willing to treat your worker’s compensation injury or if you have been scheduled for an IME, contact Garson Johnson LLC for a free consultation.

WHEN SHOULD I FILE A WORKERS’ COMP CLAIM?

In general, it is a good idea to file a workers’ compensation claim for any work-related injury, no matter how small. An injury that you may consider insignificant now could become much worse. Unfortunately, it may be too late to file a claim if the injury does worsen much later and you have not previously filed a workers’ compensation claim. If you have filed, you will be covered. Remember, the Ohio worker’s compensation system was established to protect the rights of injured workers. It’s there for your use and benefit.

HOW DO I PROTECT MY WORKERS’ COMPENSATION RIGHTS?

Workers’ compensation law in Ohio is designed to provide medical and lost-wage benefits to employees injured during and/or arising from their employment. If you are injured at work, you should take all necessary steps to assert your workers’ compensation claim and protect yourself in order to collect the benefits to which you are entitled under Ohio’s worker’s compensation laws, including:

  • Make sure to notify your employer immediately of your injury or injuries. If possible, a written report should be filed. Never attempt to hide an injury. If you fail to report an injury, it will seriously deter later efforts to collect under Ohio law.
  • Note that an occupational disease is completely different, in legal terms, from an injury. Occupational diseases (such as carpal tunnel) must therefore be approached with a different workers’ compensation claim strategy.
  • Seek medical help immediately. This will document your symptoms and injuries if they should come into dispute.
  • As soon as possible, seek the advice of an attorney who is experienced in handling worker’s compensation claims.
  • Keep notes regarding important dates, treatments and physicians.

SHOULD I SETTLE MY WORKERS’ COMP CLAIM?

There are many reasons why an injured worker might be interested in settling a worker’s compensation claim. Possible settlement situations might include:

  • When it is becoming increasingly difficult to secure further compensation, medical treatment or other benefits.
  • When the injured worker is contemplating retirement or moving out of state or is experiencing serious illness or advanced age. Settlement may provide an injured worker with some claim money in all these situations. Generally, no benefits can be paid to the injured worker’s family after death.
  • When injured workers who are collecting permanent total disability want to reduce annuity payments to cash.

A variety of circumstances occur in which settlement may not be appropriate. Remember, a settlement is full and final, which means that once the claim is settled you are no longer eligible for any compensation or medical benefits from your workers’ compensation claim.

If you have an existing workers’ compensation claim and you are considering settlement, please contact us for a free consultation to help you identify the pros and cons of your specific situation.

WHAT IS MY OLD WORKERS COMP CASE WORTH?

If you have an older workers’ compensation claim in Ohio for which you are no longer receiving significant benefits, you may be able to settle that claim for a cash payment. Old workers’ compensation claims can have value in Ohio.

Why would the BWC want to settle my claim?

Even if you are no longer receiving benefits for your past claim, your workers compensation claim still represents a liability to the BWC fund. Your past employer and the BWC may benefit by settling the case and closing any future medical claims.

Deadline for claim to expire

An Ohio workers’ compensation claim expires if there is no activity after a certain period of time. The expiration date can be FIVE years or TEN years from the last date a medical bill or compensation is paid in the claim. The date of accident or diagnosis of an occupational disease determines whether the claim has a five year or ten statute of limitation. Your attorney can give you further guidance on the applicable date.

WHAT HAPPENS IF MY WORKERS COMP CLAIM IS DENIED?

Workers’ compensation claims can be denied for reasons that have nothing to do with the fact that you have a legitimate injury or occupational disease. At the law firm of Garson Johnson LLC in Cleveland, Ohio, we have helped thousands of workers obtain benefits after their initial workers’ compensation claim was denied.

If your claim was denied, you have two opportunities to appeal that decision:

  • At a district hearing with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation
  • At a hearing before the Industrial Commission of Ohio in Columbus.

It’s important to seek legal representation for these hearings. Without a lawyer to guide you through the process, you could end up accidentally damaging your case.

Why Was My Workers’ Compensation Claim Denied?

One of the most common causes of claim denial is a lack of proper medical documentation. If you are injured at work and go to a company doctor, you may not even be aware that a claim has been filed. Your employer or the medical provider may have filed the claim on your behalf.

Once your claim is filed, you have a limited amount of time to provide medical information to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. If the BWC does not receive this documentation within 17 days, they will send you a letter saying your claim was denied for lack of medical documentation.

Another reason why claims are often denied is a misclassification of your injury. For example, you may file a claim for a back sprain that turns out to be a herniated disc. At this point, your claim needs to be amended.

What Should I Do if My Workers’ Comp Claim Is Denied?

After you receive a letter denying your claim, you have 14 days to appeal the decision. At this point, you should immediately contact an attorney to protect your rights.

Your employer has a managed care organization and maybe even an attorney to represent their best interests. Often the employer’s best interest is not aligned with what is best for you. An experience workers comp attorney is your best chance of getting your claim approved and receiving workers comp benefits.

Protect Your Rights: Free Attorney Consultation

If your claim was denied, contact our Cleveland, Ohio, workers’ compensation lawyers to arrange a free consultation.

DOES WORKERS COMP COVER DEATH BENEFITS?

If you are the family member of someone who died as the result of a work injury or occupational disease, you may be entitled to death benefits from workers’ compensation. You may still be entitled to benefits even if your family member settled his or her claim prior to death.

At the law firm of Garson Johnson LLC in Cleveland, Ohio, we offer a free consultation to the surviving family members of deceased workers. Our lawyers will explain your rights and options and help you obtain the full benefits to which you are entitled.

Do I Need a Lawyer to File Workers’ Compensation Death Claims?

In most cases, the death claim process is straightforward, and you do not need a lawyer’s help to obtain benefits. However, there are times when you may need an attorney’s help or when you are entitled to additional compensation than what is provided by workers’ compensation alone.

For example:

  • If your family member’s death was caused by someone other than your employer, our lawyers could file a personal injury lawsuit against the third party. Examples of third parties are subcontractors, vendors and equipment manufacturers.
  • If the death was caused in an auto accident while working, we could sue the negligent driver.
  • If the death was caused by extreme negligence by your employer − such as removing a guard on a machine − our lawyers could sue your employer.

Which Family Members Are Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits?

To be eligible for benefits, you must be a dependent of the deceased worker. Examples of dependents include:

  • Children of the deceased are eligible until age 18 (or until age 23 if attending college or vocational school full time).
  • The spouse of the deceased, so long as he or she does not remarry
  • Parents of the deceased, if you can prove that you depended on your child for support

Dependent death benefits will be based on the level of dependency or support each dependent had while the worker was living.

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Thanks to the hard working men and women of Ohio for allowing us to serve you. The workers comp system is very challenging. By no choice of their own, workers find themselves injured, off work, and desperate for answers and treatment. We are honored to focus on our clients not just their legal case. The best complement we receive is a referral from existing clients. The second best is their words of thanks and appreciation.

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