When an employee in Ohio is injured on the job or becomes ill due to an occupational disease, the clock that governs eligibility to receive workers’ compensation begins ticking immediately.
While the technical deadlines for filing a claim provide between six months and two years – depending upon the nature of the case – there are many practical reasons to report the accident at once and to begin the claims process promptly.
Employees who wait too long to file a work-related injury report, or who fail to meet the specified response times once a claim has been filed, often lose their rights to any benefits, even when they are clearly deserving.
The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), which is the sole state government agency responsible for the workers’ compensation system, advises those who are injured on the job, or become ill due to work-related activities, to notify their employer and seek medical care immediately.
With each passing day, claim applications face increased scrutiny and a higher burden of proof that the injury did actually arise on the job or as a direct result of the job.
Insurance carriers and claims administrators work diligently to prevent fraudulent claims. As such, when there are delays between the time employees are hurt and when they report the incidents, investigators may be more likely to conclude that the injuries might not have occurred at work or may have arisen from other unrelated exposures.
It is far better to report an injury – even a mild one – at once and seek early medical evaluation than to wait to see “how bad it really is.” As soon as an employee notifies his or her employer of an accident or illness, that establishes a legal foundation for filing a subsequent claim, should the need arise. Visiting a physician as soon as possible also helps document the timing and nature of the affliction. If it turns out that the injury does not result in any financial or health consequences, there is no harm in having reported it.
Sometimes an injury can catch an employee by surprise, starting out as a minor nuisance and growing progressively more severe. Likewise, occupational diseases, such as asbestosis or illness related to workplace chemical exposure, often generate symptoms that snowball over time.
In such instances, the BWC may allow as much as two years after the date of disability to file a claim. In the case of occupational diseases, for example, questions such as when the affected worker first became aware of the disease and when the employee was first treated will be weighed in considering the definitive statute of limitations for filing a claim.
Many employees find their rights are best protected when they contact a workers’ compensation attorney very shortly after a workplace injury occurs, or an occupational disease is detected. When skilled workers’ compensation attorneys help prepare a claim, their efforts dramatically reduce the likelihood that the claim will be rejected out of hand because the application is incomplete, inaccurate or filed past the deadline.
Moreover, should the initial application be denied, experienced workers’ compensation attorneys can help prepare and present a well-documented appeal to the board for review.
All employees in Ohio are entitled to medical benefits and lost wages when they are injured or contract an occupational disease on the job. But employees who are hurt must exercise their rights on a timely basis and adhere to all of the complex claims procedures if they are to actually receive the compensation to which they are entitled.