Treat applying for Ohio workers’ compensation benefits as your first, best option for having your medical bills paid after you suffer an injury on the job. The workers’ comp program may also provide partial wage replacement and other types of financial support as you recover.

Your first option may not be your only one, however. You might have grounds for filing a personal injury claim against the maker of a defective tool, the manufacturer of a dangerous product, or a negligent driver. Such legal actions are called third-party lawsuits or third-party claims. A Columbus, Ohio, attorney who advises and represents employees in workers’ comp cases will also know whether pursuing a third-party lawsuit is feasible.

Start with a Workers’ Comp Claim

In Ohio, the workers’ compensation program is set up to provide support to employees who suffer injury while they were engaged in work-related activities. Workers’ comp benefits are also available for occupational illnesses and deaths in on-the-job accidents, but we will focus on work-related injuries in this post.

Although there are exceptions, generally So, it does not really matter how you got injured at work as long as

  • You were doing your job (or something job related) at the time you suffered the injury,
  • You did not intentionally injure yourself, and
  • The injury was not caused by use of alcohol or drugs

Qualifying for workers’ comp benefits requires submitting an application to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. That application must be accompanied by medical records and other types of documentation that show the injury occurred.

Be aware, too, that Ohio generally imposes a strict one-year deadline for applying for workers’ comp benefits for injuries. The clock starts ticking on the day the work-related injury occurs. If you miss the deadline for applying, your application will be automatically rejected and you will have practically no chance to appeal the rejection.

The workers’ comp program actually rejects a significant number of initial applications even when they arrive on time. Partnering with an attorney who has helped hundreds of injured employed navigate the system and succeed with appeals will make it easier to clear hurdles to receiving benefits.

Explore the Possibility for a Third-Party Lawsuit

Consider the following scenarios:

  • A driver runs a red light and crashes into you as you were driving from your office to a business meeting across town.
  • You trip on a set of out-of-code stairs in your office building and badly injure your ankle, knee and hip.
  • A contractor operating a forklift backs into you, knocking you to the ground and leaving you with a concussion, which is also known as a mild traumatic brain injury.
  • A jack slips because it was machined improperly and your hand is crushed by the car you were repairing at the auto shop that employs you.

In each situation, you would have a strong claim to workers’ comp benefits. You would also almost surely have grounds for filing a third-party lawsuit. For instance,

  • The negligent driver is liable for causing the crash in the same way they would be if you had not been on a work trip.
  • The construction firm that installed the stairs could be held legally responsible for creating the circumstances that led to your slip and fall injury.
  • The company that employed the forklift operator could be found to have neglected its legal duties to ensure sufficient training and provide adequate supervision.
  • The manufacturer of the defective jack put you at risk.

In each instance, a considerable amount of evidence would be needed to prove negligence and responsibility. But all the information gathered for the accident report that is prepared in conjunction with the workers’ comp application can serve as a starting point for gathering evidence for the personal injury case.

Ohio generally allows an injury victim to take up to two years to file an insurance claim or lawsuit against the person or organization that harmed them. This permits a person who is injured on the job to take care of the workers’ comp case first and then look into the possibility of pursuing a third-party claim.

Lawyers with Agee Clymer have decades of experience handling workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Based in Columbus, our attorneys assist clients all across Ohio. You can request a free consultation online or speak with us directly by calling (614) 221-3318 or (800) 678-3318.