Regardless of your feelings for your employer day-to-day, you’d like to know they have your back if you are injured on the job and unable to work for a period. Under Ohio’s workers’ compensation laws, your employer should carry no-fault insurance that will cover your medical expenses and pay a portion of your wages while you are out. The way the system is designed, it should be a straightforward process, but sometimes complications can arise. One of those complications could be an uncooperative employer. So, what can you do if your employer refuses to help you with the process? You can do it yourself—with the help of a lawyer if need be.
How the Process Should Work
It’s important to follow the proper procedure after a work injury, even if your supervisor or HR department is giving you a hard time. If you are hurt on the job—say you fall off a ladder, slice your arm with a boxcutter, get hit on the head by merchandise falling off a high shelf, whatever it may be—you need to report the injury to someone and get medical attention soon. Depending on how badly you were hurt, you might go to the ER or urgent care before officially reporting the incident. That’s fine.
If your company is following Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) rules, they should have incident report forms available in a conspicuous place for you to fill out and turn in. If they don’t, you can briefly describe the incident in an email or on paper, sign and date it, and turn it in. After initial treatment, you must get a list of medical providers approved by the BWC for follow-up treatment. Your employer should also supply this list, but if they don’t, you can obtain it online. By making sure you have followed the correct procedure, you will protect your claim from any obstacles your employer tries to put in front of you.
Who Files the Actual Claim
The claim is filed by submitting a First Report of Injury (FROI) form to the BWC. This can be submitted by you as the injured employee, the treating physician, the employer, a lawyer, or another designee. What usually happens is that the healthcare provider or employer notifies the Managed Care Organization (MCO), which then files the claim. However, if your employer has not been cooperative or is actively trying to talk you out of filing, it’s important to know that you don’t need their cooperation to file the FROI.
Why an Employer Might Refuse to Cooperate
There are a few reasons your employer might be uncooperative or even try to block you from filing a claim, but none of their reasons are justified or insurmountable. Some excuses we’ve heard include:
- They don’t have workers’ comp insurance. Almost every employer in Ohio is required to either obtain workers’ compensation coverage from the BWC or from a private insurance company. If they have broken the law and don’t have coverage, they will be caught if a claim is filed with the BWC.
- They fear a rate increase. If several employees at a single company have filed claims recently, the company might worry that their premiums will increase. To avoid it, they might try to convince you not to report the injury and just use your health insurance to pay for medical costs.
- They do not think you have a valid claim. Whether you have a valid claim for workers’ comp is up to the BWC, not your boss. They should not refuse to help you with the process because they think you are lying or that your injury won’t qualify.
- They are misinformed about the law. Your employer might not understand how workers’ comp functions in Ohio. If they think they’re being sued or that there will be consequences for them if claims are filed, they might wrongly try to stop you from filing.
When You Might Need an Attorney
If your employer is throwing out roadblocks, you always have the option to seek expert legal advice. At Monast Law Office, our legal team can handle every aspect of your work injury claim, from helping you file to making sure your paperwork is complete and correct to speaking with your employer and the BWC on your behalf. Fill out our contact form or call us at 614-515-2595 to speak to our Columbus workers' compensation lawyer today for guidance on your workers’ comp claim.