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December 2, 2017

The state of Ohio this year adopted substantial changes to workers’ compensation laws. On June 30, Gov. John R. Kasich signed a bill to fund the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Many of the significant changes went into effect Sept. 29.

I have had a chance to review and look at the legislative material, and wanted to briefly explain the changes that affect Ohio's injured workers.

Statute of limitations: The most significant change cuts your time in half to file a new claim from date of injury. The amount of time you have to file a claim is known as the “statute of limitations.” Ohio Lawmakers reduced the time to file for an injury or death from two years to one

You now must file the claim within one year from the date of your injury or of the date of death, or the claim will be forever barred.

The significant change in the statute of limitations means it’s now even more important than ever to contact us as soon as possible after an injury at work. If you miss the one-year deadline, you lose your right to ever file a claim for that injury.

Another reason to contact us and schedule a consult sooner rather than later is the fact that It takes time for us to gather to gather all the relevant facts and ascertain the details of an injury or death claim at work. Let us put our experience to work for you.

The right to Appeal the final Industrial Commission Order;  Prior to HB-27, either party had 90 days to file an appeal to the Industrial Commission's final Order.

In an effort to encourage settlement and avoid the payment of unnecessary court costs, HB-27 extends the time to file an appeal from the Industrial Commission's final order from 60 days to 150 days. Thus, if a party to the claim provides notice of intent to settle a claim within 30 days, and the opposing party does not object, the settlement can go through much quicker while avoiding the extra expense of court filing fees.

Payments to incarcerated dependents: An incarcerated dependent is NO LONGER eligible for payments arising from a claim on or after Sept. 27, 2017. Prior to the new law, someone who was jailed or imprisoned as a result of a conviction in a state or federal court would remain eligible for these types of payments.

Waiving the scheduling of a 90-day medical examination: HB-27 allows the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to waive a medical exam to evaluate an injured worker receiving Temporary Total Disability every 90 days after the injury, unless the employer objects. This waiver applies only to state-funded employers.

Handicap Reimbursement Program. Employers are now permitted to benefit from the Handicap Reimbursement Program after settling a claim. Previously, state-fund employers were hesitant to settle since the full settlement would be charged to the employer’s experience without advantage of the handicap. Now, the handicap discount will be applied to settlements as well.

Dismissal of applications for Permanent Partial Disability (PPD): To alleviate a backlog of permanent partial disability (PPD) applications, the BWC will dismiss a claimant’s application for a PPD award if the individual fails to attend two scheduled examinations without explanation. The employee may refile the application after the dismissal.

This should speed up the whole process.

FWW calculations. If an employee’s full weekly-wage (FWW) cannot be determined, the BWC or self-insuring employer is required to pay claimant 66.6 percent of the statewide weekly wage until the wage amounts can be properly determined. After such time, any over/under payments will be assessed.

These are just a few highlights of the new law. Workers’ compensation cases can be complex, which is why it’s important to speak with an experienced attorney after an injury or after a loved one dies on the job.

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