Workers’ compensation is essentially “no-fault” insurance for work-related injuries. With a very few statutorily-defined exceptions, all employers in Ohio must purchase workers’ compensation coverage from the State Insurance Fund administered by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Very large employers also have to cover their employees, although they may be granted the right to “self-insure”, meaning they pay the cost of claims themselves.

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.

So How Should I Proceed?

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.

Regardless of the employer’s underlying reasons, I believe it is always best to file a claim with the BWC, especially if the injuries are potentially long-lasting and expensive. An employer may promise to cover the costs of your claim in exchange for you not filing it with the BWC but then change his/her mind as time goes by. Making sure you have an actual claim filed with the BWC provides much more assurance that the future costs of your claim, including payment for time off work, will continue to be covered.
James Monast
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Board-Certified Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Columbus, Ohio