On August 14, 2015, ACML Attorney Eric Cameron testified before JCARR, Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review regarding a proposed rule change that was not good for injured workers.
In the state of Ohio, when an injured worker dies as a result of a workplace injury, their widow and children are entitled to death benefits. In a small amount of worse case scenarios, some people live for a short period of time between the accident and their death. If during that time they suffer a loss of use of any limb, their widow and children are entitled to an additional loss of use award.
These awards can range from $125,000.00 to over a million depending on whether they lost the use of an arm, both arms, a leg, both legs, vision, or hearing.
Ordinarily, the BWC will pay this award out over a period of 3-15 years depending on the amount. In a non-death claim that involves paralysis, the injured worker is permitted to request this payment all at one time. Until now, widows and their children could do this too.
However, a proposed rule change would strip the right away from widows. On average, only 100 injured workers die each year in the course of their work. A very small percentage of those deaths fall into the category of having lost the use of a limb leading up to their death.
If this rule change went into effect, many widows would likely die before the award is paid in full, and the remaining money stays with the BWC. The alternative is to settle their claims for around 50% of the award.
Eric testified that the proposed rule change is inconsistent and incompatible with the present language in Ohio Revised Code 4123.60 which permits a widow to make application for any award the decedent would have been entitled to had they lived.
Following Eric’s testimony, the BWC decided to pull the rule from JCARR and redraft it with input from injured worker attorneys.