Significant changes are coming to the Ohio’s workers’ compensation system. Governor John Kasich recently signed House Bill 27, a two-year workers’ compensation budget bill that contains key amendments to a number of important components of the system. Set to take effect September 29, 2017, the bill includes a significant change to the time limits for filing a claim, as well as new guidelines for eligibility, drug testing, and more. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury at work, find out about these new rules and what they may mean for your benefits.
New Statute of Limitations Give Workers Less Time to File a Claim
One of the most notable changes enacted by House Bill 27 affects the statutes of limitations for workers’ compensation claims. For decades, injured Ohio workers had two years from the date of an injury to file a claim for benefits. Now, that time frame has been reduced to just one year in injury and death cases. While most claims are filed within weeks or months of an accident and injury, there are circumstances in which injured workers require more time to prepare and pursue a claim. More complex claims may not be completed in just one year, as they typically require the coordination of multiple parties (witnesses, doctors, and more) and an extensive amount of paperwork.
Meeting these filing deadlines is crucial for injured workers and their families. Claims filed outside the statute of limitations are denied, with very few exceptions. The new law increases the burden on the injured employee, though lawmakers in favor say it will improve the efficiency of the system for employers.
It is important to note that these changes do not apply to claims involving occupational disease or Violations of Specific Safety Requirements (VSSR). The deadlines for those types of cases will remain at two years.
Appeals Deadlines Will Be Extended Under House Bill 27
While the statutes of limitation will be shortened in many cases, House Bill 27 does offer injured workers more time to file an appeal. Under the new law, the filing deadline will be extended to 150 days if the parties are in the process of settling the case. If either party disputes the extension, it would be voided and return to the previous deadline of just 60 days.
Other Notable Changes to Workers’ Compensation Law
In addition, other key changes will take place when the law takes effect. These changes address a variety of work situations and include:
- Drug testing – The new law revises the types and amounts of controlled substances that dictate whether an employee was under the influence at the time of a work-related injury.
- Illegal immigrants’ eligibility – Going forward, illegal immigrants will not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, unless they can prove the employer was aware of their status at the time they were hired.
- Firefighters’ benefits – Changes are coming to the recently enacted law that allows firefighters to obtain benefits for work-related cancer. Firefighters can now pursue working wage loss benefits but must file a claim within one year of diagnosis. Also, a claim must be filed within 15 years of the end of active duty, a five-year reduction from the original law.
- Medical exams – House Bill 27 allows the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to waive the requirement for certain medical exams for injured workers receiving temporary total disability.
- Payments to dependents – Individuals who are incarcerated will be barred from receiving compensation and benefits after the work-related death of a family member.
If you or someone you love has suffered an injury on the job, it is important to fully understand your rights. With the constantly changing laws and the complicated details of each individual situation, it can feel overwhelming and confusing. At Monast Law Office, attorney Jim Monast and his legal team are here to help Ohio workers keep pace with the state’s workers’ compensation system and make sure that every individual is able to obtain the maximum amount of compensation he deserves. Call our Upper Arlington office today, or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.