Posted on Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018 at 10:13 am
The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Thomas Rovito, who is pursuing his Juris Doctorate at the Ohio State University.
When one thinks of workers’ compensation, a person may reasonably think of it as a monolithic concept. However, when the theory meets reality, Ohio workers’ compensation includes several varieties, such as medical care, temporary disability, partial disability, permanent total disability, and benefits in case of death, all with unique characteristics under Chapter 4123 of the Ohio Revised Code.
Before reaching the characteristics of the unique varieties of workers’ compensation in Ohio, it is important to take stock of readily available and free resources on this topic. First, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and the Ohio Attorney General’s Workers’ Compensation Section have free resources from the state on this topic. While the webpages of the state agencies can be hard to navigate, they do have in-depth publications for injured worker, such as BWC Basics for Injured Workers and Compensation Types. Third-party legal websites Nolo and Findlaw have great information on this topic available for free. In addition, professional groups like the Ohio State Bar Association maintain readily available pamphlets on this topic.
Now, let’s turn to the characteristics of the unique varieties of workers’ compensation in Ohio.
I. Medical Care (O.R.C. § 4123.66)
This benefit includes “the amounts for medical, nurse, and hospital services and medicine as the administrator deems proper” under O.R.C. § 4123.66(A). In addition, this section includes “reasonable funeral expenses in an amount not to exceed fifty-five hundred dollars” if “death ensues from the injury or occupational disease.” If the injury damages the “eyeglasses, artificial teeth or other denture, or hearing aid” of the worker, they will be entitled to “a reasonable amount to repair or replace the same.” This statute also outlines the counter of the first prescription drug refill and welfare plans, which are further fleshed out in administrative rules derived from the statute.
II. Temporary Disability (O.R.C. § 4123.56)
Under temporary disability, “an employee shall receive sixty-six and two-thirds per cent of the employee’s average weekly wage so long as such disability is total” with a few internal threshold caveats as described in Chapter 4123. If the injury persists and prevents the clamant from working in the professional opinion of a certified medical doctor, after two hundred weeks the clamant must report for a determination by the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation for a permanent disability status determination. In addition, if the employee suffers a wage loss “as a result of returning to employment other than the employee’s former position of employment due to an injury or occupational disease” or “as a result of being unable to find employment consistent with the employee’s disability resulting from the employee’s injury or occupational disease,” then the employee is entitled to “compensation at sixty-six and two-thirds per cent of the difference between the employee’s average weekly wage and the employee’s present earnings, not to exceed the statewide average weekly wage” which cannot go beyond two hundred and twenty-six weeks in total.
III. Partial Disability (O.R.C. § 4123.57)
Partial disability flows from “[t]he district hearing officer, upon the application, shall determine the percentage of the employee’s permanent disability . . . based upon that condition of the employee resulting from the injury or occupational disease and causing permanent impairment evidenced by medical or clinical findings reasonably demonstrable.” This statute also has a schedule for injuries. For instance, the loss of a little finger is 15 weeks, whereas the loss of a leg is 200 weeks.
IV. Permanent Total Disability (O.R.C. § 4123.58)
If a worker is permanently and totally disabled, then “the employee shall receive an award to continue until the employee’s death in the amount of sixty-six and two-thirds per cent of the employee’s average weekly wage” with limited caveats. If the employee is also receiving Social Security disability benefits, and those benefits are reduced or terminated, then “the workers’ compensation award shall be recomputed to pay the maximum amount permitted under this division.” Very importantly, O.R.C. § 4123.58(C)-(D) distinguishes between what constitutes permanent total disability, and what does not constitute permanent total disability. Permanent total disability includes when “[t]he claimant has lost… the use of both hands or both arms, or both feet or both legs, or both eyes, or of any two thereof,” or “[t]he impairment resulting from the employee’s injury or occupational disease prevents the employee from engaging in sustained remunerative employment utilizing the employment skills that the employee has or may reasonably be expected to develop” under O.R.C. § 4123.58(C). However, permanent total disability does not cover “[i]mpairments of the employee that are not the result of an allowed injury or occupational disease,” “[s]olely the employee’s age or aging,” “[t]he employee retired or otherwise voluntarily abandoned the workforce for reasons unrelated to the allowed injury or occupational disease,” and “[t]he employee has not engaged in educational or rehabilitative efforts to enhance the employee’s employability, unless such efforts are determined to be in vain” under O.R.C. § 4123.58(D).
V. Benefits in Case of Death (O.R.C. § 4123.59)
Ohio law distinguishes between benefits in case of death if the worker dies from an injury or occupational disease cause by their employment if the employee has any dependents or not. If the employee does not have any dependents, then “the disbursements from the state insurance fund is limited to the expenses provided for in section 4123.66 of the Revised Code.” On the other hand, if the decedent employee does have “wholly dependent persons at the time of death,” then “the weekly payment is sixty-six and two-thirds per cent of the average weekly wage” subject to state-established internal payment caps. If there is more than one “wholly dependent persons at the time of death,” then “the administrator of workers’ compensation shall promptly apportion the weekly amount of compensation payable under this section among the dependent persons.” Dependent spouses “shall continue from the date of death of an injured or disabled employee until the death or remarriage of such dependent spouse. If the dependent spouse remarries, an amount equal to two years of compensation benefits at the weekly amount determined to be applicable to and being paid to the dependent spouse shall be paid in a lump sum to such spouse and no further compensation shall be paid to such spouse.” Other dependents “shall continue from the date of death of an injured or disabled employee to a dependent as of the date of death, other than a spouse, at the weekly amount determined to be applicable and being paid to such dependent other than a spouse.” These payments cease when other dependents “[r]eaches eighteen years of age;” “[i]f pursuing a full time educational program while enrolled in an accredited educational institution and program, reaches twenty-five years of age;” or “[i]f mentally or physically incapacitated from having any earnings, is no longer so incapacitated.”
Thus, workers compensation in Ohio comes provides many different benefits, including medical care, temporary disability, total permanent disability, benefits in case of death, all with unique characteristics. If you have been injured on the job and have additional questions, Lawrence & Associates offers free, confidential consultations. We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to help you. Call today!