Deep into a long list of online answers to frequently asked questions, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation states, with capitals, “Medical-only AND lost-time claims with dates of injury after August 2006 are statutorily closed five years from the last medical bill or compensation paid.”
That accurately summarizes the basics of what the applicable state law says about how long can a Workers Comp claim stay open in Ohio. At the same time, this official answer explains very little. For instance, what does it mean to have an open Workers Comp claim? Are there ways to close a Workers Comp claim before five years? And how can the victim of a workplace injury keep their workers’ comp case open if it approaches the closing date.
First, a workers’ comp case opens when a person who suffers an injury on the job or who develops an occupational illness submits an application for benefits. Depending on the facts of the case, workers’ comp will pay for medical treatments, surgeries, physical and occupational therapy, a percentage of lost wages, wage support upon return to work at a lower-paid position, and one-time settlements for catastrophic injuries such as amputations or hearing loss.
Be very aware that a case will only be opened if an injured or ill worker submits their application for benefits within the one-year statute of limitations. For injury and work-related death claims, the deadline for filing claims falls on the date exactly 12-months from the day on which the workplace accident occurred. For occupational illness claims, the deadline falls on the one-year anniversary of when symptoms became disabling or when a definitive diagnosis was made. How Much Does Workers Comp Pay for Lost Wages in Ohio?
While their case remains open, a worker can continue to submit claims for the payment of medical and therapy bills to the worker’s comp program. Wage replacement and wage support payments may also continue.
Ohio workers’ comp case cases close in one of three ways—due rejection or withdrawal, by settlement, or statutorily.
The Ohio workers’ compensation system rejects many first-time applications for benefits. An injured or ill worker can then choose to drop the case or pursue appeals. If benefits are never approved despite several appeals, the case closes with the final rejection.
Workers and the workers’ comp program can also agree to close a case by negotiating a final settlement. The details of such settlements will differ in each case, but the gist will be the workers’ comp program agreeing to pay all outstanding claims in return for the injured or ill worker signing a pledge to file no more claims related to their current case. New work-related injuries or illnesses can provide grounds for new, separate applications for benefits.
Last, a workers’ comp case closes statutorily when five years have passed without the worker submitting a new claim for health expenses or lost wages.
The two things an injured or ill worker must do to keep their workers’ comp case open are (1) not settle and (2) keep submitting claims. Each claim must be related to the case in order to be approved and count toward keeping the case open. Ensuring that that the doctors and therapists who provide treatment complete and file the proper paperwork is a must.
Columbus-based workers’ comp attorneys with Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman welcome your questions about claims for work-related injuries and occupational illnesses anywhere in Ohio. You can schedule a free consultation by calling us at (614) 221-3318 or (800) 678-3318. We also take appointments online.