Answers to Workers’ Compensation Questions From a Columbus Attorney
Could you be fired for filing for workers’ comp? Can an employer refuse to provide workplace injury compensation? Get fast answers to your injury questions by browsing our work injury FAQ page.
- Page 1
General Workers' Compensation Claim FAQs
Columbus employees and workers throughout Ohio who suffer injuries on the job normally have many questions running through their mind. Here we have provided many answers to common questions we are asked regarding general claim information. We have also provided many questions and answers regarding medical treatment and receiving compensation.
- Who is responsible for filing an Ohio workers’ compensation claim?
- Do I qualify for workers’ compensation benefits?
- What kind of injuries are covered by workers’ compensation?
- Do I need an attorney for my workers’ compensation case?
- How do I claim workers' compensation?
- How long does it take to process a workers’ compensation claim?
- What types of benefits will I receive?
- What is a C84?
- What’s a MEDCO-14?
- What is permanent partial disability?
- If my injury happened at work, why is my employer denying treatment?
- What if my employer tells me not to file a workers' compensation claim?
- Can I appeal a denied workers' compensation claim?
Who files an Ohio workers’ compensation claim?
You do! When an injury occurs at work, immediately report the accident to your employer. They are supposed to help you file the claim with the company’s Managed Care Organization (MCO). Reporting the claim online at ohiobwc.com is the Bureau’s preferred way of filing a claim. When you file a claim online, you will immediately receive a claim number. Learn more about filing a claim if you have already seen a doctor.
Do I qualify for workers’ compensation benefits?
Unfortunately, the answer is not so simple. Workers' compensation laws are very complex and it is sensible to work with an experienced Columbus workers compensation attorney. It really does depend on your individual situation. Please call our office at (614) 334-4649.
What kind of injuries are covered by workers’ compensation?
In Ohio, workers’ compensation covers physical injuries sustained in the course of and arising out of employment. Pre-existing physical conditions substantially aggravated by a work injury/incident may also be covered. Psychiatric/psychological conditions that develop from or, if pre-existing, are substantially aggravated by physical injuries are also covered. Ohio is one of a minority of states that does NOT recognize as compensable psychiatric/psychological conditions that develop without a corresponding physical injury.
Do I need an attorney for my workers’ comp case in Columbus?
Not all claims involve serious injuries and not all claims need attorney involvement. If an injury is relatively minor, requiring maybe a trip to the emergency room and a stitch or two with no residual impairment, it may go through without a hitch. It’s likely you will want to talk with a Columbus attorney who specializes in workers’ compensation claims if your injury is serious, will likely involve lost-time from work, and/or is being contested by your employer and/or the BWC. Learn more
How do I claim workers' compensation in Columbus?
First, report the injury to your Columbus or Ohio employer in writing. While reporting in writing isn’t a legal requirement, doing so documents your actions and lessens the possibility that your claim will be contested. Second, seek medical attention from an urgent care facility, hospital emergency room, company nurse, or doctor soon. Provide a complete history of what you were doing, how you were injured, and where it hurts. Third, if you are claiming workers’ compensation, file your claim promptly. The time you have to file a claim is limited by the statute of limitations. Your hospital or employer may furnish necessary paperwork and even file the claim for you, but it is ultimately your responsibility to ensure that your claim is filed with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and a claim number is assigned.
How long does it take to process a workers’ compensation claim?
Within 28 days, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) will allow or deny your claim. By responding to any inquiries from them or from your managed care organization (MCO), you will speed up the decision process and receipt of benefits.
What types of benefits will I receive?
Injured workers in Ohio are eligible to receive medical treatment for their work-related injuries and compensation for their lost time from work. This compensation, known as Temporary Total Disability (TTD), is paid if the injury results in more than a week off work. If the lost time is less than a week, no compensation is payable. If it’s between one and two weeks, only the period during the second week is compensable. If over 2 weeks, it’s all paid.
Temporary Total Disability compensation is paid based on a percentage of the worker’s earnings for one week, 6 weeks or 52 weeks prior to the injury, depending on how long the period of disability lasts. Injuries resulting in some permanent impairment may permit an additional award of compensation known as permanent partial disability.
What is a C84?
The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation requires Form C84 as proof of ongoing temporary total disability. The injured worker must complete the form, verifying the period of disability and that she has not worked and has not received other wages during the period of temporary total disability. These forms must be periodically updated for compensation to continue. Your doctor must complete a separate form certifying temporary total disability. Both forms are required before compensation can be paid.
What’s a MEDCO-14?
A MEDCO-14 is a Physician’s Report of Work Ability. Your doctor completes this form to certify that you are temporarily and totally disabled due to your work injury or to identify any restrictions on your ability to perform your job duties due to the injury. A MEDCO-14 must be submitted every time you submit a C-84.
What is permanent partial disability?
Permanent partial disability (PPD) is a form of compensation that may be payable following a work injury. It is paid by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation or a self-insured employer following an exam (or sometimes multiple exams) at which a physician is asked to provide an opinion regarding lost bodily function that has resulted from an injury or occupational disease. It is workers’ compensation’s version of a damages award for an industrial injury. Time limitations may apply in requesting an award of PPD. In addition, the percentage of disability resulting from an injury may be disputed by the injured worker, the employer, and/or the BWC. In such situations, the Industrial Commission conducts a hearing to determine a proper award. This is differs from a settlement of your claim.
If my injury happened at work, why is my employer denying treatment?
Treatment may be denied by your employer, your managed care organization (MCO), or the BWC if excessive, inappropriate, or not cost-effective. MCOs may deny treatment they consider too expensive, even if it is treatment your doctor believes is beneficial. You may appeal decisions denying treatment that your doctor believes appropriate.
What if my employer tells me not to file a workers' compensation claim?
Penalties may be assessed against employers who fail to provide workers’ compensation coverage. If an employer tells you not to file a claim for a work-related injury, maybe s/he tried to cut costs by not obtaining the mandatory workers’ compensation coverage. Reporting the injury would notify the BWC of the employer’s non-compliance. It could also be the employer has had so many claims filed against them they fear the BWC will increase their insurance premiums.
Injured employees are still covered by the workers’ compensation system even if their employer is non-complying, so it is still best to file a claim. Learn more
Can I appeal a denied workers' compensation claim?
The BWC has 28 days to allow or deny your claim. If you or your employer disagrees with BWC’s decision, either party can file an appeal with the Industrial Commission (IC) within 14 days.
There are three hearing levels for workers’ claims at the IC:
• District level hearings — These take place in locations throughout Ohio within 45 days of filing an appeal. The district hearing officer will decide within seven days. The IC sends both parties a written notice of the hearing officer’s decision. Each party has 14 days from receipt of the district hearing officer’s decision to file an appeal to the next level.
• Staff level hearings — These take place within 45 days after an appeal of the district hearing officer’s decision is filed. The staff hearing officer will decide within seven days. The IC will send each party a written notice of the staff hearing officer’s decision. Each party has 14 days from receiving the staff hearing officer’s decision to file an appeal to the next level.
• The commission level — After studying the staff hearing officer’s decision, the commission either agrees to hear the appeal or refuses to permit further appeal. If the commission accepts the appeal, a commission hearing will occur within 45 days. The commission will decide within seven days. If the commission refuses to hear the appeal, depending upon the issue, you may appeal the matter to the court within 60 days after receipt of the commission order. Learn more about your options if your workers' comp claim has been denied.
Medical Treatment FAQs
It only takes a split second for an accident at work to turn a person’s life upside-down as the medical bills roll in. We've aimed to answer all of your questions regarding receiving the medical treatment you need. If you still have questions about workers' compensation or receiving medical treatment, please contact our office at (614) 334-4649. We've also answered many FAQs regarding general claim info and receiving compensation.
- Who approves treatment?
- Can I go to my family doctor?
- I want to change doctors. How?
- I can’t get my prescriptions filled. What should I do?
- What is MMI?
- Why do I have to wait for treatment?
- What is Independent Medical Examination (IME)?
- How will I know if a doctor is certified by BWC?
- How do I get my medical bills paid for?
- What should I do if I get medical bills?
- Can I get reimbursed for prescriptions?
Who approves treatment?
Requests for treatment are submitted by your doctor to the MCO assigned to your case. If your employer is self-insured, requests are sent to your employer’s TPA (third-party administrator). The MCO or TPA may request additional information from your doctor or a medical review before approving the treatment. Denials of treatment may be appealed.
Can I go to my family doctor?
An injured Ohio worker may be treated by a doctor of his choice, as long as the doctor is a BWC-certified healthcare provider. Often, family doctors do not treat job-related injuries because they are concerned about the paperwork involved and/or the hassles associated with claims procedures. Your family doctor refer you to a BWC-certified provider. You can also ask for recommendations from co-workers, your union representative, your attorney, or other people who have received treatment for a work injury. The BWC and your MCO also maintain lists of physicians who treat industrial injuries.
I want to change doctors. How?
You may decide to change physicians for a variety of reasons, ranging from the retirement of the provider, travel distance, or a desire for a different treatment option. Injured workers who wants to change physicians should notify the MCO and submit BWC Form C23. If your employer is self-insured, this form should be sent directly to the employer or its TPA.
I can’t get my prescriptions filled. What should I do?
Your pharmacist can explain why payment for a prescription is denied. It may be a coding error or a concern that the medication is inappropriate. Your doctor can provide additional information regarding the need for and the propriety of the medication. If the bill was denied pending the allowance of the claim, you will be reimbursed once your claim is allowed. Keep all receipts for medications and treatment related to your injury if you need to request reimbursement.
What is MMI?
Temporary total disability (TTD) compensation is payable following an on-the-job injury until the injured worker is released to return to her former job, actually returns to that job, or is determined to have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI indicates that the injury has reached a treatment plateau under the current treatment regimen, meaning it has gotten about as good as it will get! Although temporary benefits are no longer payable if the condition is no longer improving, other forms of compensation may be available for injured workers whose TTD has been terminated after a finding that their condition has reached MMI.
Why do I have to wait for treatment? I just want to get back to work!
During the initial processing period (i.e., when the Ohio BWC or your employer is deciding whether to allow or contest the claim), physicians may be reluctant to provide treatment, as there is no guarantee they will be paid. Some doctors will provide treatment, pending the allowance of the claim, expectating the claim will be allowed or that you have other means of paying (for example, other insurance) should the claim be disallowed. While your claim is considered, avoid large unpaid medical bills you may have to pay should your claim be disallowed. Once the claim is allowed, providers (other than pharmacies) who have treated you for the job-related injury should submit their bills to your MCO.
What is an Independent Medical Examination (IME)?
An independent medical examination (IME) is a medical evaluation scheduled by the BWC or employer's representative to opine about various medical issues related to your claim, including, but not limited to, whether treatment or testing is necessary, the degree of your permanent impairment and whether you have reached MMI. When scheduled by an employer, I believe it more accurate to describe this as a DME: Defense Medical Exam. Employers hire the same doctors over and over to render medical opinions on their behalf--they are not "independent".
How will I know if a doctor is certified by BWC?
The simplest way is to ask your doctor when you make the initial appointment. You may also call the employer's MCO, the BWC at 1-800-644-6292, or research BWC certified providers (by name, location and/or specialty) at the BWC's website.
How do I get my medical bills paid?
Medical bills should be payable in an allowed claim. Give your claim number to all of your medical providers who treat you in your claim. They will then request authorization for the medical treatment they request from the MCO. There are advantages of using the workers' compensation system as opposed to using private health insurance for a work injury.
What should I do if I get medical bills?
You should forward the bills to your MCO or self-insured employer. Unpaid bills can be appealed to the BWC for further investigation.
Can I get reimbursed for prescriptions?
Like medical bills, prescriptions for allowed conditions in your claim should be payable in an allowed claim. Inform your pharmacist that the prescription is for a workers' compensation claim. You may need to pay for the initial prescription, but if the BWC determines the medicine was for the allowed conditions, you will be reimbursed.
Obviously, you are responsible for any bill or prescription that the BWC determines is not related to your claim.
Workers who suffer injuries on the job normally have many questions running through their mind. Here we have provided answers to the questions we are commonly asked. We have also provided many questions and answers regarding medical treatment and general questions.
- When will I get paid? How much will I be paid?
- How long can I get paid for missing work?
- What decides how much money I receive while out of work?
- Can I ask for a settlement?
- What happens if I go back to work after being deemed permanently and totally disabled?
- Do I still get any benefits when I return to work?
- Is any tax taken out of my benefits check?
- Why do my Worker's Comp checks come in for different amounts?
- How long does it take for me to receive my benefits check?
When will I get paid? How much will I be paid?
Filing a claim doesn’t guarantee payment of compensation or benefits. Your claim may be denied or disputed by the BWC or your employer. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has 28 days from claim filing to accept or deny a claim. Learn about your options if your claim has been denied. Compensation won’t be paid until a claim is allowed.
The amount you are paid depends in part on how long you cannot work. The Ohio BWC or a self-insured employer will calculate your earnings prior to your injury, and you will be paid a percentage of those wages. The wage calculation and rate of payment often change, depending upon how long you cannot work. Wages may be set too low, and in these cases we can request an adjustment to consider special circumstances, periods of unemployment, or additional wage information, including wages from a second job.
How long will I be paid for the work I miss?
Generally, you could be compensated until you are released to return to your former job, actually return to that job, or are determined to have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).
How is the money I am paid determined?
Your benefits are based on the money you earned working for the year prior to injury. Your Full Weekly Wage (FWW) is determined by the greater of your gross wages (including overtime) earned over the 6 weeks prior to injury, divided by 6; or your gross wages (excluding overtime) for the 7 days before the injury. The first 12 weeks of temporary total disability (TTD) compensation will be paid at 72% of your FWW. Benefits after the first 12 weeks of TTD will be paid based on your Average Weekly Wage (AWW), which is generally calculated by taking your earnings from all employers for the year prior to the injury and dividing that amount by 52 weeks. Those benefits are paid at 66⅔% of your AWW.
Can I ask for a settlement?
This is an issue you should consult an attorney about. There may be factors you are not aware of, and an experienced attorney can help secure the maximum settlement amount. At a minimum, wait until you are sure you will have no further complications from your work injury. Most employers will not settle with an employee while they are still working there, as the risk of re-injury and a new claim is present.
What happens if I go back to work after being deemed permanently and totally disabled?
You will lose any permanent total disability (PTD) benefits and likely be charged with fraud if you collect PTD compensation while working (unless you are receiving statutory PTD). If you believe you have medically recovered to the point of returning to work, consult an attorney about options before you do.
Do I still get any benefits when I return to work?
There are other benefits that may be available after returning to work. For instance, you may be entitled to a Working Wage Loss if your injury prevents you from making the same salary as you did prior to the injury. This is something you should consult with an attorney about.
Is any tax taken out of my benefits check?
No. Workers' compensation benefits are tax-free.
Why do my Worker's Comp checks come in for different amounts?
The first 12 weeks of TTD compensation are paid at 72% of your FWW. After the first 12 weeks, it is paid at 66⅔% of your AWW. It is possible that, because of the day of the week a check is originally issued or other factors, a check may only cover a portion of the standard 2-week pay period. The period covered will be listed on the payment. You will receive the amount you are entitled to, and eventually, the checks will be for a consistent amount and released on a consistent basis.
How long does it take for me to receive my benefits check?
Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to this question. It may take many weeks (and sometimes, months) before compensation is received after it is awarded.
What do I do when my employer tells me to turn in my work injury to health insurance?
Your Ohio employer is required by state law to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This coverage kicks in if you're injured in a workplace accident or develop an occupational disease.
However, workers’ comp isn't an optional benefit. If you're seeking medical treatment because of a job-related injury, you must go through the workers’ comp system, not your health insurance.
So what should you do if your employer is pressuring you to submit your work injury to health insurance? First, don’t do it. And second, call an Ohio workers’ comp attorney.
Why Would an Employer Want You to Avoid Workers’ Comp?
When you file an injury report at work, your company—or someone working for it—may try to dissuade you from applying for workers’ comp. You might be told that workers’ comp approval takes too long or that you’ll probably be denied. Someone in the company or with the insurance carrier may try to convince you that you’d be better off just going through your health insurance. This is because when you use health insurance for a claim, it doesn’t cost your employer anything.
A workers’ comp claim costs your employer because it's paying the premiums—not you. And the more claims made by workers, the higher company premiums may become.
Why You Should Ignore Your Employer
While your employer may be right that a workers’ comp claim could take a while to be approved and your application could be denied, this doesn’t mean you should turn to your health insurance. Here are a few good reasons for that:
- You could be breaking the law. Your primary care provider should ask if your injury happened at work. If you lie and tell them no, you would be committing insurance fraud, which could land you in jail.
- Health insurance doesn't provide wage loss benefits. If you're forced to take time off from work to recover from your injury or illness, workers’ compensation will pay your lost wages. Without workers’ comp, you must use sick and vacation time, which isn't right.
- You could lose coverage altogether. If your health insurance company discovers that you're using your coverage for a work injury, your benefits may cease. It may be too late to file the workers’ comp claim, so you'll be paying out of pocket for all costs related to the injury.
These potential consequences aren't worth the risk. You should have workers’ comp benefits and shouldn't be coerced out of using them.
You May Need a Workers’ Comp Attorney on Your Side
If you're feeling pressured by your employer after a workplace accident, contact Monast Law Office soon. Not only can I file a successful claim quickly, but I can also help you stand up to your employer. Fill out the contact form on this page or call my office today to discuss your situation. You may also want to request a free copy of my book, The Worker’s Guide to Injury Compensation in Ohio.
What is an Ohio workers’ comp remain-at-work plan?
You suffered an on-the-job injury that required medical treatment but hasn't forced you to stop working. If you filed a medical-only workers’ comp claim and missed seven or fewer days of work, you may take advantage of remain-at-work programs to help manage the limitations caused by your injury without missing more workdays.
Supporting You on the Job
If you're having difficulty doing your job after a work-related injury, you can contact your Managed Care Organization (MCO) to ask for specialized services to help you continue to do your job. If the MCO determines you're eligible for these services, it will develop a plan, coordinate the services, and pay for them.
Some of the vocational programs that may be available to you include:
- Ergonomic study. An ergonomic study tries to examine the work environment and identify factors that prevent you from performing tasks comfortably. The next step would be to alter the environment to suit you better.
- Tools and equipment. The MCO might pay for specialized devices, furniture, or other material that allow you to do your job during injury recovery.
- Limited work hours. Returning to the job gradually by only working a few hours a day or a few days a week may make it possible for you to do tasks comfortably.
- On-the-job training. Injury limitations might require you to learn an entirely new position. Your employer may offer on-the-job training to transition into a new role.
- Physical or occupational therapy at work. You may perform specific tasks successfully if you have easy access to a physical therapist. Treatment may be offered through specific remain-at-work programs.
As long as you have received no workers’ comp wage-loss benefits yet, you should be eligible for workers’ comp remain-at-work services.
How Monast Law Can Help
If you're struggling to do your job after a medical-only workers’ comp claim and can’t get assistance from your MCO or your employer, contact my office to see if I can help. Meanwhile, request a free copy of my book, The Worker’s Guide to Injury Compensation in Ohio, for additional information. We've helped hundreds of injured workers just like you get the benefits they deserve, and we can help you, too.
I was told I need an ERISA attorney to help with my long-term disability denial. What does that mean, and where can I find one?
For many people, the perks of employer benefit packages are almost as important as the salary they earn. Medical insurance plans, retirement savings accounts, pensions, life insurance, and disability are just some benefits your employer may offer.
While you may have to opt into some plans and pay premiums, it's usually at a significant discount over what you would pay if you enrolled as an individual.
However, these benefits are subject to federal law and, when something goes wrong, you may need to hire an attorney who's familiar with the Employee Retirement Income Savings Act (ERISA).
How to Find an Attorney Who Takes ERISA Claims
If you submit a claim for long-term disability (LTD) with the company group plan and are denied, you may appeal. However, the process—which is established by ERISA—is complicated, and favors the insurance company that denied your claim.
Because these appeals aren't like other insurance claims, not every attorney is qualified or willing to take them. You want a disability attorney who is:
- Familiar with the law. Appeals of long-term disability claims governed by ERISA follow specific processes, and the time for filing an appeal is limited. An attorney with insight on how appeals work under ERISA can work quickly and efficiently to file a strong appeal.
- Experienced with ERISA claims. The more ERISA appeals an attorney has handled, the better prepared he or she will be to manage your application.
If an attorney doesn't advertise his services as an ERISA attorney, he's probably not well-versed in the process, even if he's willing to take your appeal. Try to find an attorney who wants these claims and will work hard to file a strong appeal.
Monast Law Office Welcomes ERISA Long-Term Disability Appeals
When your employer-sponsored group LTD claim is denied, call my office in Upper Arlington to learn more about my expertise for handling these claims. As a workers’ compensation attorney with over 30 years of experience, I know what it takes to build a strong disability claim, and I understand how the ERISA process works. Time isn't on your side with a denied LTD claim. Contact Monast Law Office to get off to the right start with your appeal.
How do I file a claim for long-term disability?
You’ve had the policy since you started in your current job, but hoped you’d never need it. Unfortunately, an illness or injury has left you unable to work, and you think it’s time to file a claim. By understanding your policy and the application process, you may be able to save yourself time and aggravation.
As a workers’ compensation and long-term disability appeals attorney, I help clients who are struggling to get approved for the benefits they deserve.
What Does Your Policy Cover?
The first thing to do is to read and understand your policy. Each policy defines what the insurance carrier considers a qualifying disability to be, so you'll have to make sure your illness or injury meets those specific standards. Disability under your policy may be defined as a condition that prevents you from performing your current type of work, or it may require you to be unable to perform any work.
Your policy also outlines time limits for applying for benefits and any exclusions, such as pre-existing conditions and specific medical issues that aren't covered. Ensuring that you meet the requirements of your policy before applying can save you a lot of trouble down the road.
Supporting Your Claim With Medical Evidence
Whatever the specifics of your policy might be, the carrier will require you to provide medical evidence to prove you're disabled. This evidence includes records from your treating physician, lab test results, hospital records, and MRIs, or other scans.
Also, ask your doctor for a detailed description of your medical history and the physical limitations you're experiencing because of the illness or injury. The space allotted on the insurance company’s form might not be sufficient to provide these details, so a separate statement may be necessary.
What If You're Denied?
Even if you understand your policy and submit a complete application, you might be denied. In some situations, you may be able to file an appeal, but this is often a complicated process. If you have long-term disability insurance through your employer, the appeal process is probably subject to the rules established by the Employee Retirement Income Savings Act (ERISA). These rules are complicated, and not many attorneys are willing to help with an ERISA appeal.
However, my team at Monast Law does accept these claims and would be happy to take a look at your application to determine if an appeal is an option for you. Contact our office in Upper Arlington to find out if we can help.
Why was my long-term disability claim denied?
You opted into your employer’s long-term disability (LTD) insurance plan thinking it would protect your family if something happened to you that prevented you from working. Now that your fears have come true, you're shocked to discover that your claim for LTD benefits is denied. You’ve paid your premiums reliably for years—how could this happen? We look at common—and often petty—reasons LTD claims are denied.
Insurance Adjusters Are Paid to Deny Claims
The first thing to realize is that insurance companies only make money on the claims they deny, so their adjusters will look for any undotted "i" or uncrossed "t" to throw out your claim. You may not even be given a reason when your claim is rejected, but it's probably for one of these reasons:
- Small print in your policy. You must meet the terms of your specific LTD policy, including its definition of a disability. Most policies exclude pre-existing conditions, so if the claims adjuster believes your condition isn't new, you'll be denied.
- Lack of evidence. You must include evidence of your medical condition and your physical limitations. Medical evidence includes doctors’ reports, scans, and lab tests, which have to be dated within the period of eligibility. Statements and evaluations from doctors and occupational experts attesting to your inability to perform work must also be included.
- Application errors. Incomplete applications, or forms with even minor mistakes on them, will likely be rejected immediately.
- Missed deadlines. You must meet strict deadlines when applying for LTD benefits. If you miss a deadline, your application won't even be read.
- Evidence of duplicity. An approved LTD claim means a hefty payout by the insurance company, so it may go to great lengths to prove your claim is fake. Tactics such as monitoring your social media, spying on you in public, and speaking to friends and co-workers aren't beneath adjusters instructed to find any reason for fault. They won't hesitate to misconstrue perfectly innocent actions as being evidence of fraud.
If you're denied for any of these reasons, or have no idea why your claim was denied, you may be able to file an appeal helped by a long-term disability attorney.
But Not Just Any LTD Attorney
Employer-sponsored long-term disability insurance policies are regulated by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), a set of complicated federal laws originally intended to protect workers’ retirement savings. ERISA now also includes provisions that dictate how LTD claims and appeals should be handled.
Because these cases are complex and time-consuming, few attorneys take them, but I do. As an experienced Columbus workers’ comp attorney, I understand the frustration of a denied LTD benefits claim. Call the Monast Law Office to discuss the possibility of filing an appeal. We'll take a look at your claim and let you know if we can help you navigate the difficult ERISA process.
Am I getting the best care from my workers’ comp doctor?
That’s a great question, and it’s one we encourage our clients to ask. The problem is that some workers’ comp doctors cave to pressure from employers to get people back on the job or to Managed Care Organizations (MCO) to cut costs.
This absolutely should not happen. Your workers’ comp doctor should only be concerned with your well-being. If this isn't the case, it may help to talk to an attorney.
The Physician’s Role in a Workers’ Comp Claim
While you can see any doctor—including your own—for your initial evaluation after a workplace injury, you must choose from a list of BWC-approved physicians after that. These doctors don't work for the BWC, but are approved by the BWC to handle workers’ comp claims.
Doctors who see workers’ comp patients are expected to provide the same medical care as they would to any other patients, such as:
- Recommending treatment, regardless of what the MCO or self-insured employer will voluntarily pay.
- Advising the patient of possible alternative diagnoses, treatment options, and associated risks.
- Evaluating all symptoms, even those that may seem unrelated to the workplace injury.
- Objectively assessing impairment or disability and the employee's readiness to return to work.
- Providing medically-appropriate restrictions when the worker returns to the job.
Potential Conflicts of Interest for Workers’ Comp Doctors
Along with helping the patient get better, the workers’ comp doctor may also be expected to make judgments about the cause of the individual’s injury and his readiness to return to work. This might create a conflict for some doctors when employers pressure them to support a claim denial or to release a patient to work before he's ready. Be especially careful when your employer refers you to a particular medical practice, in-house medical dispensary, or local "work health center" for treatment.
Again, your doctor’s primary job is to care for you, not to worry about your employer. If you feel like your care is compromised because your physician is trying to please your employer or MCO, it may be time to change doctors and talk to an attorney.
Monast Law Office Cares About Your Recovery
The BWC allows you to switch doctors, but you must submit a change form and can have only one physician of record at a time. If you go to a doctor who isn't BWC-certified, you must pay for this care yourself.
If you're having difficulty getting the treatment you need from your workers’ comp doctor, contact my office and talk to my team. To learn more about your right to workers’ compensation, request a free download of our book, The Worker’s Guide to Injury Compensation in Ohio.
If I contract an infectious disease at work, will I be covered by workers’ comp?
People often think of workers’ comp as an insurance program for work-related injuries—which it is—but it also covers illnesses that are contracted due to workplace exposure. Some examples of work-related illness include respiratory conditions, hearing loss, skin diseases, heatstroke, and heavy metal or gas poisoning.
While these diseases result from dangerous conditions in the work environment, an employee may also contract an infectious disease in the course and scope of employment. In some cases, those individuals will also be covered by workers’ compensation.
No Coverage for the Common Cold
Catching an illness like a cold, the flu, chickenpox, or measles from a coworker doesn't qualify for workers’ compensation. You can take sick days and work with your private health insurance regarding payment of medical bills. Even if you catch these airborne diseases from a customer or patient as you're doing your job, you won't be covered by workers’ comp in Ohio.
So What Kinds of Infectious Disease Are Covered?
According to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, private employers are required under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to pay for all costs related to worker exposure to infectious diseases through contact with blood or other bodily fluids. There doesn't have to be an unavoidable accident or physical injury for this coverage to apply, but it doesn't include airborne exposure.
Public employers aren't subject to OSHA rules, but under Ohio law, they must offer the same coverage for emergency workers, including peace officers, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel. If these workers, or any private employees, come in contact with the bodily fluid of a person infected with a communicable disease, they should be compensated for:
- Office visits
- Emergency room visits
- Tetanus, HIV, or hepatitis testing
- Suturing or dressing of wounds
- Physician evaluation/management, including counseling
- Prophylactic medication
- Follow-up testing/treatment required according to the current Centers for Disease Control protocol.
In order to have these costs covered, it's important that you report the exposure incident as soon as possible. If you were potentially exposed to an infectious disease by a splash or spatter in the eye or mouth, skin puncture, cut, open sore, wound, lesion, abrasion or ulcer, or in the course of performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, your medical costs should be compensated.
Call Monast Law Office If You Have Any Problems
These kinds of claims should be straightforward in Ohio, but if you're struggling to get medical testing or prophylactic treatment paid for by your employer, give us a call. To learn more about your right to workers’ compensation, request a free download of our book, The Worker’s Guide to Injury Compensation in Ohio.