Last year, there were more than 2.8 million nonfatal work injuries and illnesses across the United States. While not all injuries resulted in missed work or serious health repercussions, it is not uncommon for workers to experience health issues that can affect their ability to do their job at some point over their career. It is possible for a worker to experience more than one injury at a time. When this happens, what rights do workers have to care and compensation? Is it possible to file a claim for more than one injury? Or to file multiple claims for separate injuries? Here, we explore some scenarios and explain what factors will affect an Ohio worker’s claim success.
Multiple Injuries Related to Work Are Eligible for Claims
The workers’ compensation system exists to address injuries and illnesses sustained by workers because of job conditions or job accidents. As long as your injury meets this requirement and you are considered an employee of your company, you are eligible to file a claim. This is true for all work injuries, and it is still true even if you have sustained an earlier injury for which you are receiving compensation. An earlier injury does not negate a worker’s right to care and compensation for a subsequent injury.
Typically, if a worker sustains several injuries in the same accident, these injuries would all be covered under one claim. It is also possible to have multiple open claims for injuries sustained at different times. The compensation awarded in these cases would depend on the unique factors, including the severity of the injuries and the cumulative effect on the worker’s ability to perform job functions.
When Related Injuries Are Later Diagnosed or Arise
Sometimes, it may not be immediately apparent that a second or third injury has occurred. Symptoms may present later, or further studies may lead doctors to an additional diagnosis. Some common examples include falls or repetitive motion injuries. In these situations, it is possible for multiple injuries to occur, or for common symptoms to mask more serious conditions at the start. Doctors addressing a severe leg fracture may be slower to diagnose broken fingers, or what is thought to be a back muscle strain can reveal a more serious disc issue. These injuries are most common among those who work in manufacturing, healthcare, and construction, as they are often traversing slick surfaces and managing heavy loads.
This differs from an injury that reoccurs or is aggravated by work conditions—those situations are governed by a different set of rules.
Seeking Additional Benefits for Further Ohio Work Injuries
If the worker has filed a claim and received benefits for other injuries that resulted from the same accident or work conditions, it's possible to move for additional benefits to address the subsequent injury. This can be difficult, however, as the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) requires evidence to support that the newer injury is also related to the initial incident. (For example, falling because of a recognized knee injury and hitting your head may be covered as a flow-through injury from the initial claim.)
The BWC or a self-insured employer will likely investigate the claim fully, seeking ways to avoid further payment. In these cases, it can be especially important to have an experienced Ohio workers’ compensation attorney on your side. A lawyer can help injured workers gather any evidence that may support the claim, file the paperwork appropriately, and even state your case in front of the Industrial Commission if necessary.
Workers have rights to care and compensation for all injuries they sustain related to their Ohio job. While it can hold more challenges, it is possible to obtain compensation for multiple injuries that occur close together or simultaneously. Even if you are not sure if your injuries are eligible for a claim, contact the dedicated legal team at Monast Law Office to discover more about your rights and how an attorney may help. You can also request a free copy of our book, The Workers’ Guide to Injury Compensation in Ohio, to learn about work injuries and the workers’ compensation system.