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.

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  • I was injured while doing volunteer work. Am I covered by workers’ comp?

    workers' comp for volunteersUnfortunately, despite the generous gift of your time and effort, you're not covered by workers’ compensation while performing non-emergency volunteer services for a private company or a non-profit organization, including a church.

    In Ohio, employers are required by law to carry workers’ comp for their paid employees, but not for voluntary workers.

    There's One Exception

    The only exception to this rule is for volunteer emergency services providers who work for a public employer, such as a school, township, or village. This includes volunteer firefighters, police officers, or emergency medical technicians.

    Public employers must purchase workers’ comp insurance for any volunteer emergency service providers working for them, and may also elect to buy coverage for volunteers performing non-emergency services or for workers completing community service hours instead of a fine or jail sentence.

    If you're injured while volunteering for a public employer, ask about its workers’ comp policy.

    However, volunteers who provide emergency services to private employers aren't covered by workers’ comp. Private employers and non-profit organizations may purchase additional coverage for volunteers under their general liability insurance policy, but this isn't a form of workers’ compensation.

    Something Else Volunteers Should Think About

    Another question I sometimes get is whether you can volunteer work while collecting workers’ comp benefits. The answer to this depends on your medical restrictions.

    If you're on temporary total disability or permanent total disability because you're unable to work due to a job-related injury or illness, you shouldn't perform physical labor of any kind—including as a volunteer. Doing so could jeopardize your benefits. Just because you're not paid for the work doesn't mean you're cleared to do it.

    Call Me With Questions

    If you have questions about workers’ comp coverage in Ohio, please call my office. We're happy to talk to you about your status as a volunteer or to discuss what volunteer work you may be able to do while receiving workers’ comp benefits.

     

  • Am I entitled to benefits if my loved one died at work?

    Workers' comp survivor benefitsUnfortunately, workplace fatalities happen in Ohio. In 2016, 164 workers died on the job here. Transportation accidents, violence, falls, and exposure to harmful substances combined to account for 85 percent of on-the-job deaths.

    If you lost a spouse or parent due to a workplace accident, you might be entitled to compensation through the workers’ compensation system.

    Types of Compensation Following a Worker’s Death

    The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) offers two types of benefits, depending upon the circumstances of death. If your loved one passed away while collecting temporary total or permanent partial disability, you might be owed accrued compensation. If your spouse or parent dies on the job, or even years later as the result of a work injury, you yourself may be eligible for workers' comp death benefits. 

    Here’s how each type of compensation works:

    • Accrued compensation. If your loved one is collecting workers’ comp because of an allowed injury or occupational disease and dies—no matter what the cause of death is—the BWC will pay his or her dependents the unpaid portion of his compensation award. This money may be paid to dependents, providers of services related to the death, or the deceased's estate. An application for accrued compensation must be submitted to the BWC within two years of the death date.
       
    • Death benefits. Ongoing death benefits are available to the surviving spouse and children under age 18, full-time students, and mentally or physically disabled dependents. The BWC divides the available benefits among all eligible dependents, and benefits continue for as long as these dependents qualify. Medical and funeral expenses are also covered up to $5,500. Dependents must apply to the BWC for these benefits.

    Your loved one worked hard to take care of you during his or her lifetime. These benefits are available to help a deceased individual continue to provide for family members.

    How I May Be Able to Help

    As a workers’ compensation attorney in Ohio, I help injured workers get the benefits they deserve when they're injured or become ill at work. I also help their eligible survivors receive financial support when their loved one has died. For more information and a personalized assessment of your claim, contact us to begin your initial consultation.

    We understand this is a challenging time for you, but we think you'll find we're easy to talk to and will help you navigate your legal situation, even if it turns out you don't need a lawyer. Meanwhile, request our free guide to Ohio workers’ compensation. Read this before you hire anyone.

     

  • How are automotive assembly workers injured?

    Workers' comp for automotive employeesJobs at automotive assembly plants—such as the Honda plant in Marysville, Ohio—pay well and offer excellent benefits. Because of this, these jobs are often highly sought after. However, individuals doing this work for some time know on-the-job injuries are relatively common.

    If you're one of the 14,000 autoworkers at Honda or an employee for another automotive manufacturer, learn about how injuries occur and when you might be eligible for workers’ compensation.

    Common Assembly Plant Injuries

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of four out of every 100 autoworkers is injured badly enough each year to require days away from the job, restricted duty, or transfer. At Honda in Ohio alone, that would mean approximately 400 workers each year.

    The most commonly reported injuries in auto plants include:

    • Sprains, strains, and tears
    • Bruises and contusions
    • General soreness and pain
    • Cuts and lacerations
    • Carpal tunnel syndrome
    • Fractures
    • Traumatic injury

    The most common accidents in auto plants include contact with an object, overexertion, slips, trips, and falls, and repetitive motions.

    When Do You Qualify for Workers’ Comp?

    If your injury occurred in the course and scope of employment, workers’ comp covers the costs of medical treatment. If your injury forces you to miss at least 14 consecutive work days, you also may be eligible for wage replacement benefits.

    Certain types of injuries—such as soft tissue injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome—are harder to document and prove than others. If your employer is making you feel like you're faking an injury, or their "line side review" concludes your condition just can't be work-related, you may need the help of an experienced workers’ comp attorney.

    At Monast Law Office, we understand the stress and strain of automotive assembly jobs and will help you get the workers’ comp benefits you deserve. If dedicated service to your employer has caused a severe injury, call us today to schedule a free consultation in our Upper Arlington office.

     

  • Can I get workers’ comp if I was injured at a temp job over the holidays?

    Yes. Under Ohio workers’ compensation law, employers required to carry workers’ comp insurance must provide coverage to all of their employees, including those who work part-time or who were hired on a temporary basis.

    workers' comp for part-time employeesAt certain times of year, many Columbus-area companies bring on additional workers to manage an increased workload, and the jobs they do can be stressful and demanding.

    Whether you're a college student working over winter break or someone taking on an additional job to earn extra money, if you're injured in the course of your employment, you may collect workers’ comp benefits.
     

    Seasonal Workers Are at Risk of Injury

    Given the reasons companies hire seasonal workers, not surprisingly, individuals are at particular risk for on-the-job injuries. Crowded malls and stores, increased online orders, expanded deliveries, and special seasonal sales push employers to add to their workforces in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. In this rush, companies often fail to adequately train their temp workers, putting them at risk of injury.

    Typical seasonal jobs include working at:

    • Order fulfillment centers. Companies such as Amazon add hire over 100,000 seasonal employees across the U.S. to help with holiday demand. Individuals in fulfillment centers can work long hours doing strenuous tasks.
    • Christmas tree lots. Seasonal workers cut down trees, transport them, and load them on top of cars often in cold temperatures. They can suffer sprain and strain injuries, and more severe falls and power tool accidents.
    • Stockrooms. Major retailers such Target and Wal-Mart must keep inventory moving from delivery trucks to the store floor. They often do this by hiring temporary night staff to unload products and stock shelves.
    • Restaurants. Wait staff members and kitchen workers are pushed to their limits during the busy holiday season, and untrained temp workers may be brought in to help. Inexperienced restaurant workers can experience slip and falls, knife accidents, and back injuries.
    • Stores and malls. Temporary retail workers are often given the worst jobs during the holiday season, including stocking shelves, working door security, and cleaning after closing. These tasks can lead to severe injuries.

    Don’t Be Bullied by a Temporary Employer

    If you're injured while working a temporary seasonal job, it’s vital that you report the injury to your employer and seek medical care. If you encounter any resistance—including being told that you can’t file for workers’ comp because you're a temporary employee, or being accused of faking an injury—contact me soon. Don't stand for employers lying to you or about you.

     

     

  • Why was my workers’ comp claim for a hernia denied?

    When a workers' comp claim for hernia is deniedWhen a workers’ comp claim is denied in Ohio, it's usually because the applicant failed to prove the injury happened at work, and that it's severe enough to warrant benefits.

    This could be a particular problem if you're applying for benefits for a hernia injury because the symptoms of a hernia are often vague enough it can be difficult to connect it to a workplace incident.

    However, if your hernia occurred while you were on the job and you're unable to work because of the injury for at least 14 consecutive days, you qualify for workers’ comp in Ohio. Let’s take a look.

    What Is a Hernia?

    A hernia is a general term for when an internal organ or fatty tissue squeezes through an opening or weak spot in the muscle or connective tissue that usually contains it. Hernias usually occur in the abdominal cavity, but can also happen in the groin, upper thigh, or belly button area.

    You may experience symptoms such as the following:

    • A bulge or lump in the affected area.
    • Pain or discomfort.
    • Weakness or pressure in the abdomen.
    • A burning or aching sensation at the site of the bulge.

    Doctors can usually diagnose a hernia with a physical examination. If a hernia is growing larger or causing pain, surgery to repair the tissue may be required.

    When Did Your Hernia Happen?

    The sticking point regarding qualification for workers’ comp benefits due to a hernia is whether the injury happened performing your job duties. Similar to heart attacks and strokes, it's challenging to make a direct connection between the injury or illness and your job.

    Because hernias are often caused by physical strain, it's possible that yours happened suddenly when you lifted a heavy object; or was produced over time by repeated strenuous activity. It will be essential to your claim to do these things:

    • If you feel a sharp pain in your abdomen or groin while lifting something at work, report it to a supervisor and see a doctor.
    • If you first notice the bulge or lump when you're not at work, try to recall what you were doing at work that may have caused a hernia.
    • See a doctor soon for a thorough exam. Tell him or her you believe the injury is work-related.
    • Complete an incident report at work and explain what happened.

    As with any workplace accident, it's vital that you report the injury, see a doctor, and document everything.

    We Can Answer Your Questions

    If you were denied workers’ comp for a hernia, or are having trouble getting accurate information from your employer, call us at Monast Law Office. We've handled lots of hernias (so to speak), can answer your questions and help you get on the right path to workers’ compensation approval. 

     

  • I got hurt on the job working for a subcontractor without workers’ compensation coverage. What do I do??

    Construction worker on Columbus job siteOhio Revised Code §4123.01(A) treats general or prime contractors as the employer of workers hired by subcontractors or independent contractors who have failed to obtain coverage as required by law or who have permitted their coverage to lapse, unless the employees or their legal beneficiaries elected to regard the subcontractor as their employer.

    This means the general contractor is considered, as a matter of law, to be the employer of the injured employees of the subcontractor who failed to maintain coverage (unless the employees affirmatively elected to have the non-complying subcontractor treated as their employer). Claims for these injuries by the sub’s employees would be covered by the general.

    The Ohio Supreme Court upheld this provision as constitutional in 1932. This provision applies presuming both the general contractor and the subcontractor must have coverage. The few exceptions to the general requirement that all employers must provide workers’ compensation coverage are found in §4123.01.

    The general contractor’s risk includes the cost of claims brought by the subcontractor’s employees just as if they had been employed directly by the general contractor. S/he also remains liable for the subcontractor’s unpaid premium based on the subcontractor’s payroll. This provides an obvious incentive for general contractors to insure their subs have proper coverage. A devious self-employed subcontractor could elect to cover herself but permit her coverage to lapse by defaulting on her premiums and then recover against the general contractor. Just don’t try this trick against Tony Soprano or you may end up with cement shoes!

  • I travel to different worksites during the day. Would I be eligible for workers’ comp if I'm injured in a car accident between sites?

    Fixed situs employees workers' compensationIt all depends. In Ohio, if your work duties don't begin until you reach a specific work location designated by your employer, you're not covered for injuries sustained while traveling to or from that location. This is known as the “coming and going” rule, and it applies to all “fixed-situs” employees.

    Most workers who travel between work sites are considered fixed-situs employees in Ohio, but there may be exceptions.

    Are You Considered a Fixed-Situs Worker?

    Some workers are clearly fixed-situs employees. For example, if you work in an office, restaurant, or store like Walmart, and your duties don't begin until you enter the building, you're a fixed-situs employee. If you're in a car accident on your way to work, or fall in the parking lot outside your building, your injuries probably won't be covered by workers’ comp under the coming and going rule. However, there are several situations where offsite injuries are covered by Ohio workers' comp.

    You're clearly a non-fixed-situs employee if your duties aren't tied to a fixed location. For example, if you drive a truck for UPS, an ambulance for MedCare, or a taxicab for Express Cab, your worksite is your vehicle and the places you visit as part of your job. If you're in a car accident or have a bad fall while on the clock, your injuries should be covered by workers’ comp.

    It gets trickier when we look at workers whose jobs require them to be at different locations throughout the day, or from one day or week to the next. Construction workers, home health care aides, repair technicians, housekeepers, and similar workers report to various locations to complete their job duties. It may seem like this would give these employees the non-fixed-situs designation, but Ohio courts sometimes determine otherwise.

    Even though these workers don't report to the same physical location every shift, they're usually not on the clock until they arrive at their designated location. Because of this, they're subject to the coming and going rule. If injured in a car accident while traveling between work sites, they are typically ineligible for workers’ comp–but, again, there are exceptions.

    If a worker is paid for travel time or reimbursed for travel expenses, it could be argued they're performing work duties and on the clock while driving from one site to another and, if injured during travel, they may be eligible for workers’ comp.

    Confusing? Call Me to Explain

    If you find this confusing, welcome to the club! The Industrial Commission and Ohio courts seemingly can rule one way one day and another way the next given the very same set of facts. These cases are very fact-specific and decisions can turn on nuances. Employers and the BWC are quick to deny such claims even when they're legitimate. If you have questions whether you're subject to the coming and going rule, it's worth your time at least to consult with an Ohio workers’ comp attorney. This can be a complicated issue even for experienced lawyers and judges, and you deserve to understand your rights as an employee.

    When you call Monast Law Office, you can get answers to your workers’ compensation questions. We also invite you to download a complimentary copy of our book, The Worker’s Guide to Injury Compensation in Ohio to learn more.

     

  • What is the Ohio Disabled Worker Relief Fund?

    disabled worker fund benefitsIn Ohio, when a worker is awarded permanent total disability (PTD) status, he isn't expected to return to work. Along with paying medical bills associated with the illness or injury that caused the disability, the worker is also entitled to wage replacement benefits from the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) or his self-insured employer. These benefits are calculated based on the worker’s earnings before the injury or illness and never increase as the years go by since compensation rates are governed by the year of injury.

    As such, they don't adjust for increases in the cost of living and the injured workers' earning power diminishes as time goes by.

    If the PTD amount falls below a certain level, the worker may qualify for a cost of living adjustment in the form of supplementary benefits from the Disabled Worker Relief Fund (DWRF).

    Calculating Wage Replacement Benefits

    In Ohio, a worker with PTD status receives 66-2/3rds percent of his pre-injury average weekly earnings, up to a set maximum amount ($932 in 2018).

    For example, if the worker was earning $1,200 a week at the time of his injury, he would get $792 in workers’ comp benefits. However, the BWC also sets a minimum benefit payment based on the cost of living, so if a worker was earning less than a certain amount during his disability, he would be given supplemental income from the DWRF. In 2018, the minimum wage replacement benefit is $466. If 66-2/3rds of the workers’ weekly earnings is less than $466, he should get additional money from the DWRF.

    All Applicants Are Automatically Considered for DWRF Benefits

    Low-income workers granted PTD status need not apply for DWRF benefits. If their income is determined to be below BWC minimums, they should automatically qualify for the supplemental income. However, if an injured worker isn't granted DWRF benefits and believes he should have been, the BWC decision can be appealed.

    The Monast Law Office May Be Able to Help

    If you believe you should have received supplemental income—or you're struggling with the workers’ comp application process in another way—the Monast Law Office may help get the benefits you deserve. You shouldn't be made to feel like you've done something wrong because you were injured on the job. Call us to discuss your situation today. If we can help, we will.

     

  • What should I tell my Ohio workers’ comp doctor?

    Injured worker talking with a Ohio workers comp doctorInjured workers are often suspicious of the doctor they're required to see for treatment of a job-related incident. This may be because they're unfamiliar with the medical provider, or because they're worried about saying or doing something that will jeopardize their worker’s comp claim.

    As a result, they may not be entirely honest or detailed enough with their answers to the doctor’s questions. This could harm their claims.

    As with many things in life, honesty is the best policy when talking to your workers’ comp doctor.

    What to Tell Your Doctor

    When you're injured on the job or develop a work-related illness, your priority is to get the immediate medical help you need.

    Under Ohio law, you're permitted to see any doctor for your initial visit. After that, your continuing care must be with a Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC)-certified doctor if the state program insures your employer; or an employer-approved doctor if your employer is self-insured.

    No matter who your first visit is with, it's important to claim success you:

    • Fill out the intake form completely and accurately. You may have filled out an incident report at work, but you must still take care to fill out the patient information form completely. Describe every symptom, source of pain, twinge, or bruise—not just the most painful or problematic. It's possible something that doesn't bother you much at first will develop into a severe injury, and your claim will be stronger if your physician documents it on your first visit.
    • Give a complete history of the work injury. Often the moment you feel the pain—or the day you're diagnosed with an illness—wasn't when the injury or exposure occurred. When filling out a form or speaking to the doctor, describe everything that happened which may contribute to your injury. For example, you may have fallen off a ladder one day and woke up the next day in extreme pain. The doctor needs to know how and when the fall happened, not just that you woke up in pain.
    • Be honest about previous injuries/symptoms. People may experience many back or knee injuries over their work-life. Often, these heal in a few weeks and have nothing to do with subsequent injuries. If you had treatment or injuries before, tell your doctor. If you've been symptom-free for months or years, these prior problems don't undermine your current claim (even though your employer may try to make a big deal of it). Better to be open and honest about these things as past treatment will be discovered. If you hide it, you'll be painted as a liar.
    • Don't sign inaccurate or incomplete forms. The medical provider, employer, or managed care organization (MCO) may ask you to sign an initial workers’ compensation claim application (Form FROI-1). Don't sign the form if the details of the accident or injury are incomplete or inaccurate. The FROI-1 can be filed without your signature, and you can correct it later. However, if you signed it, this will be more difficult.
    • Never exaggerate or fake symptoms. A doctor can identify the nature and extent of your injuries through examinations and medical testing. He or she will know when you're lying, and this could do irreparable harm to your workers’ comp claim. Always be honest but thorough.

    How a Worker’s Comp Attorney Can Help

    It’s unfortunate but true that some employers and Managed Care Organizations (MCO) do everything they can to limit the scope of coverage, including taking advantage of your mistakes, omissions, and inaccuracies when reporting injuries.

    If you're struggling with an employer or MCO that thinks you're dishonest, contact the Monast Law Office to discuss your situation. For more information about your rights, download my free book, The Worker’s Guide to Injury Compensation in Ohio.

  • If I relocate out of state, can I still collect Ohio workers’ comp?

    Injured Ohio worker packing moving truck to move out of stateWe get this question a lot at the Monast Law Office. The short answer is yes—as long as you continue to qualify, your workers’ comp payments will follow you wherever you move. However, as with many things in life, it can be a bit of a pain.

    Unlike federal programs such as Social Security and Medicare, workers’ comp is a state-run program, so living outside of Ohio may make certain aspects of your claim more difficult.

    What You Need to Know

    As soon as you know you're moving, notify the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), or your employer if the company is self-insured. Once you have a forwarding address and information for your new bank account, make those changes so payments can be sent to you without interruption.

    Because the BWC requires you to use their certified medical providers for ongoing care, you may have to return to Ohio for treatment and required medical exams. If you relocate farther than a neighboring state, this could be impracticable. Otherwise, you must find a local provider willing to become BWC certified and accept Ohio workers' compensation payments.

    Your Options When Moving Out of State

    If you're not already working with a workers’ comp attorney, you'll want to find one to help you navigate your move. An Ohio attorney can be a helpful point of contact once you leave the state and can communicate with the BWC as your representative.

    An attorney will also discuss the option of settling your claim before you move, which may be your best option. If you settle, your attorney negotiates a lump-sum payment that will close your Ohio workers’ comp claim. You may use the settlement money in any state and with any doctor. As long as you work with an attorney to ensure you're offered a fair settlement, and it's structured to your advantage if you're also collecting other benefits, this could be a good solution for you. 

    The Monast Law Office Can Help

    If moving out of state is a possibility, call us to discuss how you should manage your workers’ comp claim. We'll help you understand the options and determine what's right for your circumstances. I work with hundreds of other Ohio workers injured on the job, many of whom have subsequently moved out of state. My team and I can guide you through this sometimes-tricky situation too. Contact us today!