How to Qualify for Workers’ Compensation in Cleveland, Ohio
Answering five questions will help you determine whether you meet the basic eligibility requirements for applying to receive workers’ compensation benefits in Ohio. You can also consult with an experienced Cleveland, Ohio, workers’ compensation attorney to clarify any lingering concerns you have about your eligibility.
Did I get injured or sick while doing my job?
This is the principle qualification. Workers’ comp is primarily intended to allow people who suffer injuries on the job or who develop occupational illnesses due to work-related exposures to toxic substances to recover and return to their jobs without spending months receiving no income. Benefits are also available for workplace deaths and for permanently disabling conditions like amputations or going blind.
Incidents that qualify as work-related include chemical spills, falls from ladders, traffic crashes in company vehicles, and assaults by customers. The Ohio Workers’ Compensation program also keeps a list of explicitly covered occupational illnesses such as mesothelioma.
Does my employer participate in the Ohio Workers’ Compensation program?
The answer to this question is almost definitely yes. Practically all companies, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations that employ more than one person are required to pay the equivalent of insurance premiums to the workers’ comp program.
Can I prove I am an employee of or a contractor under the supervision of the organization I identify as the employer?
Answering this question usually presents few challenges. Complications can arise for contract workers, however. When filling out workers’ comp applications, contractors may need to clarify whether they should name the place where they were working or the company that actually signs their paychecks.
Do I have medical evidence of my work-related injury or illness?
Applying for workers’ comp benefits is similar in many ways to filing health insurance claims. Make sure you save doctors’ and hospital bills, prescription records, and all the paperwork you receive regarding diagnoses, treatment plans, and rehab schedules. You will want to make sure you have proof that you followed doctor’s orders regarding limitations on physical activity.
Did the on-the-job accident or exposure to toxic materials occur less than two years ago?
Ohio Workers’ Compensation enforces a two-year statute of limitations on claims. The clock starts ticking on the day of the incident that resulted in the injury or illness. There are circumstances, however, when the statute of limitations will not start to apply until symptoms of an occupational illness become disabling or until a definitive diagnosis of an illness is made.
A final set of questions that relate to whether you will actually receive workers’ comp benefits can only be answered by your employer and by workers’ compensation system personnel. First, your employer can contest your claim. Frequent objections raised by employers include the following:
- The worker did not follow proper safety procedures or acted without authorization.
- The worker was engaged in prohibited activities.
- The incident occurred off the worksite, outside of work hours, or not at all.
The workers’ comp officials reviewing your application can decide that your paperwork is incomplete or that you applied past the expiration of the statute of limitations. Another common reason for denying benefits is ruling that the medical records submitted by the injured or ill worker do not support the existence of a qualifying condition.
Partnering with a dedicated Cleveland, Ohio, workers’ comp lawyer will help you overcome challenges from your employer and to respond to demands for additional information from the workers’ compensation office. Importantly, you have a right to seek advice and representation from an attorney even if you apply for workers’ comp through your employer’s safety office or human resources department.
Let one of Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman’s Cleveland workers compensation lawyers know if they can be of service to you. We offer free, no-pressure consultations, so call us at (800) 678-3318. You can also request an appointment online and share some of your story by filling out this contact form.