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Why the Industrial Commission Can Stop your Workers Compensation Settlement Payments

Posted on Monday, July 10th, 2017 at 1:06 pm    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Ian Fasnacht, a law student from Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

One of the first steps in pursuing litigation is to determine which court has jurisdiction over a claim. Jurisdiction is a court’s power to hear and decide a case. Failing to file a claim with the proper court will either result in the case being dismissed or the judgment will be appealed on the grounds that the original court did not have jurisdiction. The Ohio Supreme Court has clarified which courts have jurisdiction over claims regarding worker’s compensation lump sum payments.

Prior to the Ohio Supreme Court’s ruling, Ohio case law indicated that two courts could hear cases regarding worker’s compensation lump sum payments. The first was the Ohio Court of Common Pleas, which has general jurisdiction over all civil disputes with more than $500 in controversy. Second, was the Ohio Court of Claims, which has exclusive jurisdiction over civil suits against the State of Ohio for money damages that are “sound in law.” After the Ohio Supreme Court’s ruling in Measles v. Industrial Commission, the Ohio Court of Claims has exclusive jurisdiction over workers’ compensation lump sum disputes.

Studying Measles v. Industrial Commission: Background information

A class action suit was brought against the Industrial Commission of Ohio for stopping weekly payments of workers’ compensation benefits. The individuals in the class action had opted to receive a partial lump sum and then receive discounted weekly distributions for the remainder of their life. However, in taking the partial lump sum the recipients signed a contract that provided, in part, “Lump Sum Payment is granted it will result in a permanent reduction of weekly benefits which shall continue for the life of the claim.” The members of the class action in this suit were only individuals who had taken a partial lump sum, but each member could have selected to receive a full lump sum payment and no weekly distributions at the time of selection.

The Industrial Commission of Ohio stopped paying weekly benefits to the members of the class action when the individual member’s weekly distributions and partial lump sum totaled the amount each recipient would have received if he/she had selected to receive the full lump. The Industrial Commission of Ohio argued that when the recipients signed the contract to receive partial lump sum payment the recipients had agreed to receive a specific amount of money; therefore, once that specific amount of money had been paid the Industrial Commission of Ohio was not responsible for continuing to make discounted monthly payments.

In contrast, the members of the class action argued that they were entitled to receive a reduced weekly disability payment for the remainder of their life. Therefore, the Industrial Commission of Ohio was statutorily required to continue to make payments for the remainder of their life even if the amount they would receive would exceed the amount originally offered in a lump sum.

Why the Court Decided the Industrial Commission Could Stop Payments

The court reasoned that the class action members were suing under the contract they had signed with the state. A contract is “sound in law” because it is legally binding. Therefore, the members of the class action needed to sue in the Ohio Court of Claims.

The Ohio Supreme Court differentiated between two prior cases. First, Cristino v. Ohio Bur. of Workers’ Comp. involved a class action who sued after receiving a full lump sum payment. The court held that the claim needed to be filed in the Ohio Court of Claims because the contract needed to be analyzed to determine if the state entered into a contract that the state was statutorily prohibited from entering.

The Ohio Supreme Court differentiated Cristino from Santos v. Ohio Bur. of Workers’ Comp. where Santos sued the state for money the state claimed in subrogation. Santos was not controlling in the present case because Santos sued to recover money already paid through subrogation, which, unlike a contract subrogation is not “sound in law.”

Speaking in general terms, the Ohio Supreme Court noted that if a contract was signed regarding workers’ compensation or disability benefits, then the contract always needed to be analyzed by the court to determine if the state entered into a contract that was outside of the state’s authority. In cases involving partial or full lump-sum disability payments, the parties are disputing the “consequences of the contract.” As a result, the contract must be analyzed, which means the Ohio Court of Claims has exclusive jurisdiction.

Why This Matters for Your Case

Filing a claim in a court that has jurisdiction is an important early step in the litigation process. Filing in a court that lacks jurisdiction can waste time and money. The Ohio Supreme Court has clarified that the Ohio Court of Claims has exclusive jurisdiction over workers’ compensation cases where individuals selected to receive a partial or complete lump sum payment.

Beyond workers’ compensation disputes, the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision has clarified that when a contract was signed between the state and individuals the dispute must be litigated in the Court of Common Pleas. When a contract is present, individuals or classes of individuals will be suing the state because the terms of the contract were violated. As a result, the dispute will regard the terms of the contract; therefore, the dispute will be “sound in law” and under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Ohio Court of Claims.

Do you have an Ohio Workers Compensation claim and want full compensation in your settlement? Our attorneys offer free consultations! We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to help you!


What Lawsuits Can Be Filed for Accidents Involving Drones?

Posted on Thursday, June 29th, 2017 at 10:44 am    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Raphael Jackson, a law student from the Chase School of Law.

Drones are becoming more and more common in the sky.  The law is struggling to evolve to address what can happen if drones are used improperly, and if someone is hurt as a result of drone use.  While that may seem far-fetched now, some shipping companies such as Amazon are experimenting with having packages delivered by drones.  If these experiments are successful, drone use will increase exponentially.  This article will discuss what drones are, and what can be done if you or a loved one have been hurt by a drone aircraft.

What is a Drone?

UAV, or unmanned aircraft, is the technical name for drones. Drones are increasing in popularity as they are becoming more affordable to the average consumer. Prices can range from eighty dollars to upwards of two thousand dollars depending on their strength, range, and technical capabilities.   Drones can weigh from as little as twelve grams to as much as fifty-four pounds. Drones weighing more than fifty-five pounds are typically not of the recreational variety and as such would require registration with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  Safe piloting of a drone entails the pilot to fly below four hundred feet, so as not to interfere with the traffic of manned aircraft.

Even lower-end drones have the capability of flying outside of the range of your own backyard, which is where the fun, and also much of the legal liability, begins. The cameras that many drones come equipped with encourage drone pilots to fly their craft over many scenic places. Unfortunately, some of these locations involve public places with a moderate amount of pedestrian traffic. Studies indicate that drones are more likely to crash than civil aircraft, and as evidenced by the rising popularity of the Youtube channel “Drones vs. Humans,” collisions between drones and human beings are becoming more and more common. As drones increase in popularity and affordability, this phenomena will become more common place as time goes on.

Drones and Tort Law

Legal dockets have yet to see any recreational drone involved in intentional collisions. However, pilot negligence, unexpected weather conditions, and faulty manufacturing are all factors that can lead to accidental collision and subsequent injury. Drones have fast moving metal or plastic propeller blades. Additionally, crashes from high altitudes, or from rapid speeds can be the cause of substantial injury.

Despite petitions to the contrary, as of this writing courts have yet to reach a consensus as to whether recreational drone flying, in it of itself, is considered an abnormally dangerous activity. Thus a person who has been injured by a drone would likely find recourse within the same traditional common law remedies which she would seek had she been injured by a mishandled frisbee, kite, or football.

Collision injuries notwithstanding, other torts likely to fall within the realm of drone use are trespass, invasion of privacy, or conversion. A person claiming trespass will generally need to show interference with their actual use of, or substantial damage to, their land. Tort claims for trespass have succeeded at heights of twenty to thirty feet. If someone wrongfully confiscates your drone, they may be liable for conversion. Conversion is the wrongful possession or disposition of another’s property as if it were one’s own.

What Can I Do if Someone Intentionally Destroyed My Drone?

Self-help is a common law remedy which gives the landowner a right to exercise reasonable force to remove trespassers from their property.   Although the law is divided across the states, shooting a drone out of the sky may not generally be considered a viable self help remedy, particularly for those who live in urban, or suburban settings. Ryan Calo, a noted drone scholar at the University of Washington, thinks a person or property “would probably have to be threatened . . . for [one] to be able to destroy someone else’s drone without fear of a counterclaim.”

The FAA has classified drones as aircraft.  Intentional destruction of an aircraft carries the risk of federal prosecution. Thus, it behooves the property owner to exercise reasonable limits when seeking self-help remedies.  Rather than shooting down a drone, a less confrontational way of deterring a drone would be to create and display a sign which reads “PLEASE RESPECT OUR PRIVACY.” Pilots understand that once within reach, drones are fairly easy to take down. Given the money that they have invested in their hobby, the pilot is likely to cede to your request over risking unnecessary loss of or damage to her drone. Both parties should bear in mind that, should the pilot decide to file a counter claim against the property owner, footage filmed by the drone can work for or against the petitioner.

Can Using a Drone Result in an Invasion of Privacy?

Many people have witnessed the camera mounted vehicles which capture images for google street view. Many drones have similar image capture capabilities. As a general rule if the photographed subject is already a matter of public record, then merely viewing or storing the image within your drones’ camera is not likely to give rise to a tort liability. The Supreme Court under U.S. v. Causby, ruled that the space in a backyard at eye level is certainly within the “immediate reaches of the enveloping atmosphere” that is under the “exclusive control” of the landowner. So as long as the flight path is indiscriminate and is not over an intimate personal space scrutinized under a “reasonable expectation of privacy” analysis, then the drone pilot may be within her legal means of flying.

Photographs or video recordings made in public might not necessarily constitute an invasion of privacy. Nonetheless, if the photographer intends to make these images public by means of the internet or magazine publication, she should take special care to obscure the image of any subject who has not consented to being photographed. There are several free apps online that can edit images accordingly.

Conclusion

Laws dealing with drones are relatively new, and constantly evolving. As such, drone operation, or interference thereof may incur various legal consequences. That being said, injury by drone whether due to pilot negligence, or manufacturing defect, is still covered by our existing body of law.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a drone; you have evidence that a drone has invaded your privacy; or you are a drone pilot that would like to file a claim against a property owner who has unlawfully destroyed your drone, you should contact one of our attorneys for a free consultation.  We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to help you!


Subrogation – How Your Ohio Worker’s Compensation Claim Can Take Money Away from Your Personal Injury Claim

Posted on Tuesday, June 20th, 2017 at 7:54 am    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Ian Fasnacht, a law student from Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

Worker’s Compensation allows employees to recover medical expenses and lost wages for injuries that occur on the job. When employees are injured on the job by a third-party, the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation (BWC) may file a subrogation claim. Subrogation provides the BWC or a self-insured employer with the right to collect back costs of the worker’s compensation claim from the third-party who caused the injury if the injured employee receives a settlement or judgment from a third party.

This blog post is about Ohio Worker’s Compensation claims. If you have a Kentucky Worker’s Compensation claim that is also a personal injury claim – such as getting into a car accident while on the job – check out this subrogation blog post to find out more about the Kentucky system.

How Ohio’s Worker’s Compensation Subrogation Works

In Ohio, car accidents or construction projects are the leading causes of subrogation claims. For example, consider when an employee is stopped at a red light while driving his/her company’s car and is hit from behind. The employee files a worker’s compensation claim and receives lost wages and medical expenses. The Ohio BWC has the right to recover the lost wages and the medical expenses from the third-party who hit the employee from behind, if the injured employee sues the third-party who hit him/her. If the employee sues the third-party driver for medical expenses and lost wages, the Ohio BWC has the right to recover the expenses the Ohio BWC already paid, and the employee keeps any additional amount recovered.

Money recovered from a third-party is not automatically subject to subrogation. Rather, injured employees must be given the chance to demonstrate the money he/she received from a third-party was not for the same expenses already paid through worker’s compensation.

Unlike other civil actions brought against third parties, subrogation has a six-year statute of limitations. Typically, the statute of limitations is two years for actions brought against third parties.

The Ohio Subrogation Claim Process

In Ohio, subrogation claims begin with a referral – usually from a BWC claims service specialist. Once the referral is reviewed, Ohio BWC employees will mail a letter asserting a claim against all third parties. The BWC asserts a claim by placing a lien – or right of first access – to all money the injured employee receives from the third-party. If the third-party and the injured employee settle their dispute outside of court, the Ohio BWC will negotiate the settlement with the injured employee.

Ohio statutes limit the amount the Ohio BWC may recover to the amount of money the Ohio BWC has paid or is expected to pay due to the injury. If the settlement is less than the amount the Ohio BWC has paid then the Ohio BWC and the injured employee will negotiate a settlement. If agreed, the Ohio BWC will receive its portion and the injured party will receive the remaining amount. When negotiating a settlement, the Ohio BWC considers what expenses were paid through the settlement. Usually, the Ohio BWC is only able to recover a portion of its full lien if the settlement is less than it previously paid in worker’s compensation benefits.

If the claim remains unresolved, it may be referred to mediation. If mediation fails, the Ohio BWC gives all claims to the attorney general’s office.

Ohio’s Process is Slightly Different for Self-Insured Employers

Self-insured subrogation cases must often arise in construction projects when a subcontractor’s employee is injured. If the general contractor is self-insured, it is the employer of all employees, including subcontractors, for worker’s compensation purposes. Therefore, an employee of a subcontractor can recover against the general contractor, and any funds received by the employee would be subject to subrogation by the Ohio BWC.

An injured employee could also sue the subcontractor, which would be subject to subrogation. However, under Ohio law, a subcontractor is not liable for claims of employees of other subcontractors working on the same general project provided the claim would fall under worker’s compensation law. Subcontractors may still be liable for actions that do not fall under worker’s compensation, such as an employee dropping construction equipment on another subcontractor’s employee.

Should You Talk to a Lawyer about Subrogation Between Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Claims?

There can often be offsets to the subrogation rights that the Bureau of Worker’s Claims recognizes, which means you can keep more of your personal injury settlement or judgment than you might first realize. However, many of the important things done to create an offset are done before the settlement of either the personal injury or the worker’s compensation claims. Therefore, it is important to talk to an attorney early. By retaining an attorney early, you maximize your chances of keeping your money.

However, not all attorneys are created equal. Make sure the attorney you hire works in a firm that practices in both personal injury and workers’ compensation. A lack of experience in either field could limit the attorney’s understanding of subrogation issues. Further, you should sit down with your attorney and ask the attorney what possibilities exist for limiting the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation’s subrogation rights. Although the attorney will not be able to give specific numbers at the beginning of the case, he or she should have the ability to explain the basic avenues that he or she will use to try to limit what you have to pay in subrogation. And if the attorney won’t take the time to sit down and explain things to you, that is probably not the attorney you want to use.

If you’ve been injured and have either a personal injury or a worker’s compensation claim, please call one of our attorneys for a free consultation. We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to help you!


What Kind of Damages Can You Get for a Dog Bite in Ohio?

Posted on Tuesday, June 13th, 2017 at 12:02 pm    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Ian Fasnacht, a law student from Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

According to the case Beckett v. Warren, Ohio residents may simultaneously pursue statutory and common law damages for injuries sustained as a result of a dog bite. Ohio’s dog bite statute does not permit punitive damages, monetary compensation award beyond medical expenses; however, dog bite victims may seek punitive damages under the common law if the victim can demonstrate the dog owner knew the dog was vicious.

Facts of the Case

A minor child suffered injuries to her head when she was visiting the home of Richard Warren and Mary Wood. Approximately two weeks earlier Mr. Warren and Mrs. Wood’s dog had attacked another individual, and Mr. Warren and Mrs. Wood took no additional precautions despite having a child in their home.

Common Law v. Statutory Law

Common law is judge made law, which means it is created in a courtroom by a judicial decision rather than by a legislature passing a bill. At the common law, to recover for a dog bite an injured party has to prove that (1) the defendant owned or harbored the dog; (2) the dog was vicious; (3) the defendant knew of the dog’s viciousness; and (4) the dog was kept in a negligent manner after the keeper knew of its viciousness.

The requirement that the dog owner had to know the dog is vicious in order for the injured party to recover created the “one free bite” problem. Unless the injured party could prove a previous person had been bitten he/she could not recover. Therefore, a dog owner could escape liability for one bite before he/she could be held liable for injuries sustained as a result of their dog’s bite.

Ohio codified – meaning they created a statute – the common law dog bite rule, but took out the knowledge requirement. Therefore, Ohio’s dog bite statute, R.C. 955.28, is strict liability. The injured party only needs to prove that (1) ownership or keepership [or harborship] of the dog; (2) whether the dog’s actions were the proximate cause of the injury; and (3) the monetary amount of the damages. Because the injured party does not need to prove the dog owner knew his/her dog was vicious, no punitive damages are available.

Ohio Supreme Court’s Holding

In determining that both remedies were available, the Ohio Supreme Court interpreted the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1964 Warner v. Wolfe holding, which allowed a suit under the “statute or at common law.” The Ohio Supreme Court held the “or” did not require an injured party to chose which law he/she would bring a suit under but rather allowed an injured party to bring a suit under both.

In further support, the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision referenced the text of R.C. 955.28, which did not indicate an injured party could only bring a suit under either the common law or statutory law.

The Ohio Supreme Court worried if injured parties were forced to pick between the two causes of action some injured parties would not receive compensation for their sustained injuries because he/she would file the case under the common law and lose.

Therefore, The Ohio Supreme Court interpreted the Warner decision and R.C. 955.28 as eliminating the “one free bite” problem by allowing injured parties to always recover his/her medical expenses without proving the dog owner knew the dog was vicious. Conclusively, an injury party will always receive monetary compensation for his/her medical expenses under Ohio’s statutory law but only receive punitive damages if the injured party can prove the dog owner knew the dog was vicious under the common law.

The Ohio Supreme Court disagreed with Justice O’Donnell that juries would be confused by the court’s holding because a judge could instruct the jury to award additional punitive damages if the jury found the dog owner knew his/her dog was vicious. Both common law and the statutory law allowed for the injured party to receive medical expenses, therefore, a party would not recover twice because the judge would either award damages based on the statutory or common law depending on if the jury determined the defendant had the requisite knowledge.

O’Donnell’s Dissent

Justice O’Donnell dissented because in his opinion the Warner decision required injured parties to bring a suit either under the statute or at common law, but a party could not bring both suits. Choosing between the two would not have served as a barrier for injured parties because if the injured party could prove knowledge then he/she could recover both medical and punitive damages. In contrast, if the injured party could not prove knowledge then he/she would bring a statutory claim and recover medical expenses.

Under Justice O’Donnell’s theory, if an injured party brought a common law suit and lost the injured party would receive nothing and be barred from bringing a statutory claim for the same injury. However, this negative consequence was within the injured parties choice and necessary for courts to supply juries with simple instructions.

Justice O’Donnell argued that choosing between the two actions was necessary because juries would be confused if forced to apply two different rules to the same set of facts. He argued that jurors now have to ignore facts presented during trial that relate to the parties knowledge while applying statutory law, but then the jurors have to apply facts indicating the defendant knew the dog was vicious to the common law.

He argued the Warner decision removed this confusion and allowed juries to apply whichever law the injured party filed his/her action under.

If you or someone you love has been injured by a vicious dog, you have rights. Call Lawrence & Associates today for a free consultation to find out how you can recover. We are Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to help you!


Liability for Asbestos Exposure: The Story of Mary and Clayton

Posted on Tuesday, May 30th, 2017 at 10:58 am    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Linda Long, a Juris Doctor student at the NKU Salmon P. Chase College of Law.

The case Boley, Exr. et al., Appellants v. Goodyear Tire is the story of a husband and wife whose normal day-to-day routine led to a terrible disease and a big corporation not accepting responsibility for it.

Mary Adams and her husband Clayton had a pretty typical life. That life included Clayton going to work, day in and day out, at the Goodyear Tire Company and Mary taking care of the home. Mary, being a dutiful wife, always washed Clayton’s work uniforms. This routine went on for years, Clayton working and Mary washing. A tragic interruption came into the Adams’s lives- Mary was diagnosed with mesothelioma in March of 2007. She struggled with the disease, and died in July of 2007.

After Mary’s untimely death, Clayton and the executor of Mary’s estate gave it a lot of thought and concluded that Mary developed mesothelioma because of the debris that was collected on Clayton’s uniform. Clayton and the executor reasoned that because the Goodyear Tire Company used chemicals that contained asbestos, asbestos residue was left on Clayton’s uniform, and Mary inhaled it as she laundered Clayton’s uniform causing the development of the disease. After coming to that conclusion, Clayton and Mary’s executor filed a lawsuit against a group of about 200 defendants (including Goodyear Tire Company). Goodyear moved for summary judgment, arguing that the prevailing law did not provide a remedy against the company. Clayton and Mary’s executor raised the counterargument that the prevailing law applies only to premises, and that liability claims and therefore the law does not prevent their claim.

Procedural History of Claims

The trial court ruled in favor of Goodyear Tire Company’s movement for summary judgment. The court of appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court. The court of appeals held that R.C. 2307.941 (A) (1) precluded liability with regard to the alleged claims because of Mary’s exposure to asbestos did not occur at Goodyear’s property. The current opinion comes from the Supreme Court of Ohio. The question presented before the court at this level was whether R.C. 2307.941 (A) applies to, what the court called, ‘take home exposure’. This means that the court had to decide if the controlling law is applicable to exposure that is indirect, since Mary was not exposed on the premises but at her own home.

Controlling Law R.C. 2307.941 (A) (1)

The Ohio law that is being reviewed in this case is Ohio Revised Code section 2307.941 (A) (1). This statute was specifically enacted to address the health issues that the mass use of asbestos caused. It is better stated as follows: “[t]he current asbestos personal injury litigation system is unfair and inefficient, imposing a severe burden on litigants and taxpayers alike.” The legislative intent behind this bill is to protect citizens from the effects of asbestos. The Ohio Supreme Court reviewed specific areas of the statute to come to a conclusion in Clayton and Mary’s case.

One of the portions of this statute that is relevant here is deals with where the exposure occurs. “A premises owner is not liable for any injury to any individual resulting from asbestos exposure unless that individual’s alleged exposure occurred while the individual was at the premises owner’s property.” This is the language that both the trial court and the court of appeals hung their hats on, because the exact language states that an owner is only liable if the injured person is injured while on the owner’s premises. This is important because Mary was not injured on the Goodyear premises when she was injured. That was a huge hurdle for Clayton and the executor.
So, one issue is statutory interpretation. “In cases of statutory construction, ‘our paramount concern is the legislative intent in enacting the statute.” With that precedent, things did not look good for Mary and Clayton, but the real determinative factor is intent.

To determine intent the court will look to the language of the statute and the purpose that the legislator wanted to accomplish by the statute. The Ohio Supreme Court said that its role to evaluate a statute “as a whole”. The court found that the legislative intent was apparent. The intent was to protect owners from tort liability when someone is injured while off their premises. Just like regulations were put into place to protect society at large from the damaging effects of asbestos, there are laws in place to protect the owners of property, for better or worse.

The argument that Mary’s executor and husband presented claimed that the words “exposure to asbestos” modified “on the premises owner’s property.” The court cited concerns with this interpretation. The court reasoned that going with this interpretation would eliminate the power of subdivision (A) (1); which, was meant to protect individuals who are property owners. So, the court had a serious balancing act to consider: protect the property owners or protect the individuals?

The Ohio Supreme Court’s Ruling

Overall, the court affirmed the ruling of the lower court. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that a premises owner is not liable in tort because of the language in R.C. 2307.941 (A) (1). That means that any claim that arises from asbestos exposure that originates from asbestos from the owner’s property unless the exposure occurred at the owner’s property. So, what does this mean for Mary? Well, it is pretty simple, Mary’s executor and Clayton are now out of luck. Based on your definition of ‘fair,’ you may be disappointed by this outcome, but this was a ruling that was absolutely based on the law.

Personally, my knee jerk reaction to this ruling is that it is unfair. I think that it is unfair because, as I understand it, but for the actions of Goodyear, then Mary would not have (or her chances would have been dramatically lower) contracted mesothelioma and she would not have subsequently died. But for the actions and practices of Goodyear, Clayton would not have lost his wife in this way. For those reasons, this ruling saddens me. However, this was a ruling based on law, and Mary’s family will have to heal in another way.


Medical Bills, Bankruptcy, and Trump – How the Pending AHCA Bill Could Affect Bankruptcy Filings

Posted on Wednesday, May 24th, 2017 at 9:37 am    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Ian Fasnacht, a law student from Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, took effect in 2010 and has been the center of political tension for almost a decade. From 2010 to 2016, personal bankruptcy filings have decreased by 50%. Courts do not require individuals to disclose why they are declaring bankruptcy, but research indicates medical bills are the “single largest factor in personal bankruptcy” accounting for between 50 and 62% of all personal bankruptcy filings.

Also illustrative is 2010 Massachusetts, which had been operating under Romneycare for several years. Romneycare served as a base model for the ACA. Massachusetts in 2010 had a 30% lower personal bankruptcy filing rate than any other state in the Union. The average Massachusetts medical bills were also one-third of the average medical bills in every other state.

Because of the close correlation between personal bankruptcy filings and medical bills, the ACA is considered a driving factor in the decline of personal bankruptcy filings in recent years. Medical bills can be expensive and unexpected, which forces families and individuals into debt.

Potential Changes Under Trump

With President Trump and Congressional Republicans working to repeal and replace the ACA, will medical bills increase and cause personal bankruptcy filings to increase? Two proposed changes that could increase the number of personal bankruptcy filings are eliminating the individual mandate and retracting the expansion of Medicaid.

A. Eliminating the Individual Mandate

Eliminating the individual mandate may lead to an increase in personal bankruptcy filings as people choose to forego medical insurance due to higher premiums. The individual mandate requires all persons to purchase health care insurance or pay a penalty to the IRS for failing to have health insurance.

This provision was originally included in the ACA to drive down the average policy premium despite insurance companies being required to offer medical insurance regardless of a pre-existing condition. One of the criticisms is premium costs have risen in some areas of the country, and the individual mandate forces people to pay higher premiums.

However, if cheaper insurance options are not made available people may choose to not purchase health insurance, which would leave them financially vulnerable to unexpected medical bills.

If the final revision of the AHCA bill does not eliminate the individual mandate, the Trump administration could effectively eliminate the penalty by no longer requiring the IRS to ask taxpayers to disclose if they have purchased health insurance. Without the knowledge of who does or does not have insurance, the IRS would lose the ability to efficiently issue a penalty for not having insurance.

Instead of an individual mandate, the proposed AHCA bill would allow insurance companies to charge up to a 30% penalty to those who forego insurance and then purchase insurance after they have been diagnosed with an illness. This provision is designed to persuade rather than mandate participation. This change could have the same effect as people not purchasing health insurance because individuals may not be able to afford the higher deductibles for emergency health and may be forced to file bankruptcy.

B. Decreases in Medicaid

The AHCA may eliminate the Medicaid expansion provision that accounted for half of all insurance coverage gains under the ACA. The ACA included a block grant to states to expand their Medicaid programs. The expansion would provide Medicaid to anyone making 138% times the poverty line ($33,600 for a family of 4). States could refuse the Medicaid expansion, but 31 states, including Ohio and Kentucky, accepted the expansion.

The AHCA may eliminate the Medicaid expansion offered to states and return Medicaid coverage to pre-ACA levels (100% of the poverty line or $24,300 for a family of 4). The potential change would require all those who do not qualify for medical expansion to purchase insurance in the open marketplace. If there is not an individual mandate, those removed from Medicaid may choose not to purchase health care insurance and be at risk of unexpected medical bills. Alternatively, they may select a policy with a low premium but high deductible and minimal coverage. If a severe illness occurs, minimum coverage policies may not offer substantial financial assistance and force individuals or families into debt.

No changes to the ACA are finalized, but potential changes may lead to higher personal bankruptcy filings. A better understanding of potential effects on personal bankruptcy filings will be available after changes to the ACA are finalized.

Medical Bills, Bankruptcy, and You

Regardless of what changes occur to federal law, high medical bills can lead to bankruptcy. Bankruptcy may provide a solution for financial hardship created by burdensome medical bill debt.

A. Medicals Bills Can be Discharged in Bankruptcy

Medical bills are considered an unsecured debt, in contrast to secured debt, such as a home mortgage secured by the value of the home. All unsecured debt is dischargeable in chapter 7 bankruptcy, except for student loans. Chapter 13 bankruptcy requires the filer to repay part of their debt, but medical bills can be partially dismissed. Chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy have different income and debt requirements, it is best to speak with an attorney to determine which, if any, is best for you.

B. Spouse and the Doctrine of Necessity

Generally, one spouse is not obligated to pay the debts of another spouse. However, if assets were held jointly, i.e. joint credit cards, then the surviving spouse would be obligated to pay. One exception to the general rule is the doctrine of necessity.

Under Ohio’s doctrine of necessity, spouses are responsible for all bills of necessity, such as food, shelter, and health. Therefore, some medical bills may be considered a necessity and debt collectors can sue a surviving spouse. Bankruptcy may be a solution to discharge debts of necessity.

Kentucky has a similar doctrine of necessity, but only holds the husband liable for the debts of his wife; the wife is not liable for the debts of her husband.

Debt collection agencies do file suit over unpaid medical bills, which can lead to liens or seizure of real and personal property. However, collection agencies will often offer the opportunity to establish a payment plan before filing suit. Speaking with an attorney can help you understand your rights and determine what debts must be paid.

C. Filial Responsibility Laws

Ohio and Kentucky have filial responsibility laws, which hold adult children responsible for caring for their parents. Care can include assisted living or medical bills. However, these laws are rarely enforced due to other available assistance.

Filial responsibility laws are rarely enforced because nursing homes need to prove the parent resident is unable to pay. However, Medicaid is typically available if parent residents do not have enough money. If Medicaid bills remain unpaid, the State can collect from the parent’s estate.

Generally, parental debts are not their children’s responsibility and it may be best to contact an attorney to understand your rights and obligations.

Have you been hit with medical bills and have no hope of paying them in this lifetime? Lawrence & Associates may be able to help you! Call today for a free consultation. We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to help you!


What is “Med Pay,” And Should You Have It?

Posted on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 at 1:08 pm    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Jessie Smith, a law student from the University of Kentucky.

Medical payment insurance, (commonly referred to as simply “med pay” insurance) is an often overlooked, but nonetheless, useful element of most drivers’ automobile insurance policies. Unfortunately, many people are either unaware that their auto insurance policies include med pay coverage, are unfamiliar with what med pay coverage actually is, or are unwilling to contact their insurer to inquire about med pay coverage, despite how important such coverage may be in the event of an accident. The goal of this blog post is to explain the concept of med pay insurance, exploring what, exactly, med pay is, when it should pay an insured driver, how drivers can obtain it, and whether acquiring med pay coverage is a good idea. In addition, the statute that establishes med pay coverage in Ohio will be analyzed, and insurers’ obligations under that statute will be discussed.

Before you start, please realize that “med pay” is different than “PIP”, which stands for personal injury protection. Lawrence & Associates has a blog post about PIP, which take the place of med pay for Kentucky automobile insurance policies.

What is “Med Pay” Insurance?

Before discussing the more complex questions referenced in the introduction, it is necessary to provide an answer to a very basic question – what exactly is “med pay” insurance? The simplest answer to that question is that med pay coverage is a component of many automobile insurance policies, which will pay medical bills that are the result of an automobile accident. A more detailed answer is that med pay coverage permits a driver that has been injured in an accident to submit their medical bills to their insurance providers for payment, regardless of whether said driver was the cause of the accident. The coverage is not limited to just the driver; it extends to any occupants of the driver’s vehicle, as well.

The inevitable questions that arise from these descriptions of med pay insurance are: why does one need med pay insurance if they already have health insurance? Is med pay insurance really necessary, or will it only serve as an excuse for insurance companies to increase one’s premiums? Will taking the additional steps necessary to acquire med pay coverage really pay off if one is involved in an accident?

The short answer to these questions is that, yes, obtaining med pay insurance is, generally, a good idea, and most drivers should probably consider contacting their insurer to determine whether their policy includes med pay coverage, and, if not, how they can go about getting it. A more detailed, satisfying answer to these questions will be discussed in the following section, entitled “Is Obtaining Med Pay Insurance a Good Idea?”

Is Obtaining Med Pay Insurance a Good Idea?

Obtaining or retaining med pay coverage is a good idea for most drivers. Although many will believe that med pay only serves to increase the amount of money that they have to shell out every month for their auto insurance policies, or are under the false impression that health insurance coverage will suffice to cover the expenses of injuries sustained in auto accidents, or even believe that injuries sustained in accidents that are the fault of another driver will be reimbursed by that driver through their insurance or as the result of a lawsuit, these assertions are ungrounded or are simply false. The benefits provided by Med Pay far outweigh any negative aspects of obtaining coverage.

First, med pay coverage will do little to increase most drivers’ premiums. Generally speaking, such coverage is very inexpensive. Insurance.com states that the cost of adding med pay coverage to one’s auto insurance policy is as cheap as about $5.00 a month under most policies. When this cost is compared to the amount of coverage one receives in exchange, which is typically about $5,000 to $10,000 per person, the economic feasibility and financial sense provided by med pay coverage becomes apparent.

Second, even if one has health insurance, most would agree that obtaining med pay coverage is nevertheless a good idea. Many drivers choose to get med pay coverage in order to bolster their existing health insurance plans. However, many drivers with health insurance choose to also get med pay because many health insurance policies are accompanied by high deductibles, co-pays, etc., that saddle the policy holder with the responsibility of paying a certain amount of medical expenses out-of-pocket and upfront before the health insurance company steps in to cover anything. Med pay, however, has no deductible or co-pay, and it pays medical costs quickly. Another advantage of med pay over typical health insurance policies is that med pay will provide coverage for a plethora of expenses that many health insurance policies will not, including ambulance fees, chiropractor fees, dental fees, etc.

Third, any notion that med pay coverage is unnecessary because of a potential suit against another at-fault driver should be dispelled immediately. Even if one is involved in a multiple-vehicle accident (keep in mind that med pay coverage extends to single-car accidents, as well, as it is not limited to multiple-car accidents), and even if the other driver(s) were partially or totally at fault, bringing suit against them is long process – a process that may take months, or even years, before any sort of damages will be awarded. Additionally, simply bringing a claim does not guarantee success; the aforementioned years-long legal battle may end in the plaintiff having been awarded an amount less than what they expected, or even having been awarded no damages at all. Med pay coverage, however, pays medical costs almost immediately, and is not contingent on the outcome of years of litigation.

Conclusion

In conclusion, given the myriad of benefits that become available once med pay coverage is obtained, most insured drivers should take steps to acquire med pay coverage if their current policy does not provide for its inclusion. Med pay coverage will provide for payment of medical fees that are not typically covered by many health insurance policies, and will often provide for quick payment of these bills. These benefits, and others, can be obtained for as little as $5.00 a month under most auto policies, but will deliver to the insured the advantage of, typically, $5,000 to $10,000 in benefits in the event of an accident. Because of the multiple advantages associated with med pay, and because of its low cost, it makes economic and financial sense for most drivers to do whatever necessary to secure med pay coverage.

Have you been injured in a car accident, live in Ohio, and do you have additional questions about med pay? Call Lawrence & Associates today for a free consultation! We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to help you!


Can Someone Sue Me if They Get Hurt on My Trampoline?

Posted on Tuesday, May 9th, 2017 at 11:46 am    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Raphael Jackson, a law student from the Chase School of Law.

Trampolines are a common fixture to many a suburban household. Many parents raising children in the digital age can appreciate the old fashioned outdoor fun they can provide their children by installing a trampoline in the backyard. An added advantage is the relative safety a parent may feel when his or her child does not have to venture far from home to enjoy the outdoor recreation.

Averaging $200, trampolines are more affordable than most playground sets, which can run anywhere between $500 to $2,000. The safety of keeping your child close by, however, may be negated by the injury that is likely to occur if you own a trampoline. Given the relatively low costs and ease of installation, trampolines are an attractive means of recreation, not just for children, but for people of all ages. However, from a legal standpoint, this “attraction” is precisely what a homeowner or tenant must be concerned about.

How Often Do People Really Get Injured on a Trampoline?

A study published by Dr. Randall T. Loder, chair of orthopedic surgery at the Indiana University School of Medicine, revealed that trampoline injuries have led to 288,876 fractures and over $1 billion in emergency room visits between 2002 and 2011. 92.7% injuries occurred in children age 16 and younger. Thus, chances are, if you do have a trampoline someone is likely to be injured while using it.  A landlord may be liable for your personal injury, or the personal injury of a visitor, guest, or a trespasser.

Simply said, trampolines pose numerous safety hazards. If you are a renting a home you may have had an encounter in which a landlord insists that you remove, or not introduce, a trampoline onto the premises. If you are a home owner, you may have experienced insurance clauses which forbid trampolines.

Will My Insurance Cover Trampoline Injuries?

Many insurance policies will refuse to cover the insured if the owner insists on having a trampoline. Insurance companies are aware of the greater likelihood for injury on those who own a trampoline and they have reacted in the following ways:

  • Outright cancellation of insurance
  • Mandatory trampoline exclusion
  • Additional “nuisance surcharge”
  • Mandatory netting/ fencing/ and or locks on trampoline

Premises Liability is a legal theory that usually applies to personal injury cases. In order to prevail on a personal injury claim the party needs to prove that the property owner was negligent in the ownership or maintenance of an equipment or a condition on his property.

Whether you are a tenant or a landowner, you are likely to have invited or uninvited visitors on your property.  These visitors can be divided into three main categories. To each category the landowner owes a special duty of care. The three main categories of visitors are invitees, licensees, and trespassers.

  • Invitees – An invitee is a visitor that has the owner’s express permission to be on the property. People who fall into this category include friends, guests, neighbors, and relatives. The duty owed to the invitee is simply to exercise reasonable care in keeping the property in a relatively safe condition.
  • Licensees – A licensee is someone who has either: the owners express permission to be on the property; or the owners implied permission to be on the property. The difference between a licensee and an invitee is that the licensee is visiting for his or own purposes. Licensees might include the pizza delivery person or the vacuum cleaner salesman. The landowner’s duty to the licensee is less than that of the invitee. The landowner has a duty to warn of a dangerous condition only if:
    1)      The landowner knows about the condition; and
    2)      The Licensee is not likely to discover it.
  • Trespassers – A trespasser is someone who has no authorization to be on the property. The landowner’s only duty to the trespasser is not to engage in any willful or wanton misconduct. There is an exception however to the duty owed to trespassing children.

A different legal theory applies, however, to tenants or landowners that maintain a condition or piece of equipment on property which is likely to attract children. This can extend to swimming pools, farm machinery, playground equipment, skateboard ramps, and trampolines. Most trampoline accidents involve people under the age of sixteen. If you have an accessible trampoline on your property you likely have what may be considered an attractive nuisance. An attractive nuisance is a legal theory that states that a landowner may be liable for injuries to children trespassing on their property if the injury is caused by an item that may attract children to the property.

What If Someone Was Hurt Because the Trampoline Was Defective?

If you or a loved one were not engaged in any risky behavior on a properly-installed trampoline yet you still suffered injury due to a manufacturing defect, then you may have a cause of action under a products liability theory. In this event the legal question will centered on one or more of the following questions.

Was there a manufacturing defect with the trampoline?

Was the homeowner negligent?

Was a third party user negligent?

Did the injured party assume the risk?

What Steps Should I Take to Avoid Becoming Part of a Trampoline Lawsuit?

Aside from avoiding legal liability it is also generally advisable, from a safety standpoint, to avoid installing a trampoline in your backyard. However, for those who insist on owning one, it may be wise to adhere to the following guidelines.

  • Purchase trampoline insurance coverage
  • Consider investing in a fence around your property
  • Discourage or forbid multiple simultaneous users on the trampoline
  • Purchase a trampoline safety net (and lock for the net)
  • Consider ground level installation of your trampoline.
  • Maintain and Inspect trampoline for defects regularly
  • Supervise your children’s usage of the trampoline

Following these guidelines may not serve as a protection to legal liability for personal injury, but they can go a long way in ensuring personal safety. The complexity of the rules of liability vary state to state, thus it is wise to contact an attorney for a consultation in order to address your specific case.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a trampoline related accident, call Lawrence & Associates for a free consultation. We are Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to help you!


What Are The Primary Reasons Social Security Disability Benefits Are Denied?

Posted on Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017 at 8:48 am    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Jessie Smith, a law student from the University of Kentucky.

Many people suffer from debilitating injuries or conditions that prevent them from working at all. Others’ conditions so severely limit the amount of time that they can devote to work each month that they, effectively, are prevented from earning a livable wage. Oftentimes, the only place for people in these positions to turn is the Social Security Administration in an attempt to obtain Social Security Disability benefits. Unfortunately, requests for these benefits are often denied. This blog post will explore the primary reasons that such requests are denied.

1. Lack of Adequate Medical Documentation to Support One’s Claim

When one applies for Social Security Disability benefits, his or her request will be solely decided upon the proffered medical documentation. What this means for someone who has applied, or is going to apply, for disability benefits is that the more medical records one has to demonstrate that they suffer from the condition claimed, the more likely it is that their request will be granted. Practically speaking, of course, one would have to make regular visits to a physician to obtain treatment for their medical condition. Such frequent visits will result in the accumulation of medical evidence to support one’s claim, which will, in effect, make it more likely that the Social Security Administration will approve a request for disability benefits.

The problem many people face, however, is that frequent visits to a treating physician can be cost-prohibitive and time-consuming. Medical treatment, for any condition, rarely comes cheap. Even if one has medical insurance, deductibles for many plans are high – too high for some to take advantage of frequent medical treatment. Those who do not have insurance at all are in a worse condition; paying for medical treatment, relying solely upon out-of-pocket resources, is an option few can afford.

For those who find themselves in such a position, it is wise to pursue low-cost or free medical treatment options that are available in their community. Many communities have cheap or low-cost medical clinics where they can obtain treatment, and thus amass medical records. Others can seek out treatment from physicians that offer low, monthly payment plans, or offer services based on a sliding scale fee basis (a “sliding scale fee basis” is a plan under which a physician bases the costs of his or her services on the patient’s ability to pay). Finally, few communities are without a hospital, and therefore an emergency room. Therefore, if no other option exists, visits to the local ER are another way to build a portfolio of medical evidence that can later be used in making one’s Social Security benefits determination.

Ultimately, if an applicant has not sought and obtained medical treatment for their condition recently, the Social Security Administration will require said applicant to have a “consultative medical exam” performed. These exams are performed by physicians hired by the Social Security Administration; they are performed so that Social Security disability examiners can have recent medical records at their disposal when making disability determinations. The problem with these “consultative medical exams” is that they are often performed hastily, are oftentimes not thorough, and rarely reveal many of the symptoms that a disability applicant is claiming. In other words, they are a poor substitute for obtaining medical records via one of the aforementioned means, i.e., private physicians, local clinics, and emergency rooms.

2. Once One’s Claim is Denied, They Fail to Fully Pursue the Appeals Process

The vast majority of disability claimants are denied benefits upon initial application. In fact, one source provides that nearly 70% of all Social Security Disability claims are denied under the first application. Many people do not realize that an appeals process exists under which they can continue to pursue receipt of disability benefits.

The first step in the appeals process is to file a “request for reconsideration.” Such a request must be filed within sixty days of the date one receives their letter denying disability benefits. For those who pursue this option, close to 15% are ultimately approved for benefits.

If a request for reconsideration fails, the second step in the appeals process is to file a request for a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). This hearing typically involves a review of existing evidence, but new evidence may be considered, as well. At these hearings, a disability claimant, as well as witnesses, including medical experts, may be questioned by the ALJ. For those who pursue this second step in the appeals process, around 60% are ultimately approved for the receipt of disability benefits.

The third step in the appeals process is to request a review by a Social Security Appeals Council. If an Appeals Council reviews one’s case, it may decide the outcome of one’s case on it’s own, or, alternatively, may return the case to the ALJ for further consideration. It is important to note that an Appeals Council may deny one’s request for review; however, if this occurs, or if the Appeals Council decides the case on it’s own, and denies one disability benefits, a lawsuit may be filed in a federal district court. This suit represents the last step of the appeals process.

Ultimately, based upon the aforementioned numbers, the more one appeals their decision, the more likely it is that they will ultimately be approved for receipt of disability benefits. Statistically speaking, if one is initially denied benefits, the appeals process is likely to reverse this negative outcome. However, failing to pursue any of these options, whether due to lack of knowledge of the process, or an unwillingness to engage in these often lengthy processes, would result in never receiving disability benefits.

3. One’s Disability is Not Included in the “Social Security Impairment Manual”

The Social Security Impairment Manual provides a list of many conditions that the Social Security Administration considers to be disabilities. It also provides a list of the specifications that must be met to constitute being afflicted by these disabilities in the eyes of the Social Security Administration. Many people whose disabilities are not listed in this manual are often denied Social Security Disability benefits. However, the simple fact that one’s disability is not included in the manual does not mean that they are not eligible for disability benefits. In fact, most disability claimants that are provided benefits do not suffer from any of the conditions listed in the Impairment Manual.

Ultimately, suffering from a disability listed in the Impairment Manual is typically sufficient, but is, by no means, necessary, to obtain disability benefits. If one suffers from a disability not included in the Impairment Manual, the Social Security disability adjudicator is required to apply other rules to determine whether an applicant is, in fact, disabled.

An Attorney May Be Able to Help You for No Out of Pocket Charge

In sum, the three primary reasons Social Security Disability benefits are quite often denied stems from a lack of medical documentation to support one’s claim of disability, failure to fully pursue the entirety of the appeals process, and, to a lesser extent, suffering from a disability not included in the Social Security Impairment Manual. Ultimately, however, each of these problems stems from the lack of medical evidence to support a claim of disability. The more medical evidence one accumulates, the less likely it is they will be denied their initial application, the less likely it is they will lose during the appeals process, and the less likely it is that they will be denied benefits simply because their condition is not listed in the Social Security Impairment Manual.

A good social security attorney is trained to prove your disability for you whenever possible. Further, social security attorneys do not charge a fee out of pocket to you, so you never have to worry about paying one. Rather, the attorney’s fee is a percentage of your back due award, if any. If you think you may be able to claim disability, call Lawrence & Associates today and ask for a free consultation. We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to help you!


Can You Receive Workers’ Compensation for an Injury in the Parking Lot at Work?

Posted on Tuesday, April 25th, 2017 at 10:51 am    

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Caitlin DiCrease, a law student from Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

What is the “Coming and Going Rule?”

Workers’ compensation covers injuries that occur to an employee during the course of his or her employment. Typically, an employee can only recover workers’ compensation for injuries that occur in workplace setting. This generally does not include injuries that happen as an employee is traveling to or from work. Under both Kentucky and Ohio law, injuries that occur during travel are generally not considered work-related and therefore are not eligible for compensation. This legal standard is known as the “coming and going rule.”

However, in Kentucky, an employee’s injuries can be covered when a worker is injured while “on the employer’s operating premises and not substantially deviating from the normal activities of coming or going.” Under this exception, injuries in a parking lot that is under the employer’s control will often be covered by workers’ compensation.

Ohio also usually does not provide workers’ compensation for injuries during travel, under a similar coming and going rule. Ohio law, however, allows workers’ compensation to cover injuries within an employer’s parking lot if the injury “arises from the employment relationship.” In both states, the employee must be injured while doing an activity that is related to his or her employment to be eligible for workers’ compensation.

How Kentucky Case Law Decided to Cover Workers Comp Injuries in Parking Lots

In 2015, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that workers’ compensation can cover an employee’s injury that occurs in a company-controlled parking lot. In this case, a woman was walking from her car and slipped on a patch of black ice which was on the sidewalk in front of her office.

The Kentucky court found that her activities leading up to her injury – namely, parking her car in the employer’s lot and walking on the sidewalk to her office – were work-related and therefore covered under workers’ compensation law. The sidewalk where she was injured was held to be a part of her employer’s “operating premises” due to the level of control that the employer had over the area. Because her injury was work-related and happened on the employer’s premises, the court allowed her to receive workers’ compensation.

The court looked to several factors to determine that the parking lot and sidewalk were part of the employer’s operating premises and that the use of that space was work-related. If employees need to use the sidewalk and parking lot to gain access to their workplace and the area is “in the control of the employer,” an injury occurring in that area will qualify for workers’ compensation. Also, if the employer has provided a parking lot for the use of its employees, the lot will be considered part of the employer’s operating premises. If an employee parks outside of the lot or area that has been designated for employee use, any injury that occurs while going into the office will not be covered by workers’ compensation. The employer need not own the lot for the injury to be covered.

Essentially, if your employer has provided you with a place to park in order to access your workplace, injuries that happen within that parking in that area for work purposes can be covered by a proper workers’ compensation claim. If you park in an area that is not controlled by the employer and that the employer has not pointed out to you as designated parking, injuries that occur within that space will not be covered. The courts will look to the specific facts of the case to decide whether the injury will qualify for workers’ compensation.

How Ohio Case Law Makes it More Difficult to Get Workers Comp for a Parking Lot Injury

Ohio evaluates injuries in an employee parking lot differently than the Kentucky court. In general, travel to or from work is not covered by Ohio’s workers’ compensation claims. In Ohio, employees that are “fixed” in one location – those who complete their employment duties at a specific and identifiable workplace – will not have travel related injuries covered by workers’ compensation. Only if travel is a “special hazard” created by the scope of the employment will an Ohio court allow resulting injuries to be covered.

However, Ohio courts may allow recovery for injuries that happen in an employer’s parking lot. For example, an employee who was injured on a public street adjacent to the employee parking lot has been held by one Ohio court to have been acting “within the zone of employment” such that her injuries qualified for workers’ compensation. Parking lot injuries will be evaluated on a fact specific basis, similarly to in Kentucky.

The courts look at how close the scene of the accident is to the workplace, the degree of control the employer has over the scene of the accident, and if the employee was at the scene of the accident for the benefit of the employer. These factors help the Ohio courts decide whether or not the injury happened while doing an activity that is related to the person’s employment. If the parking lot injury did occur during an employment related activity, it can qualify for workers’ compensation. Typically, workplace parking lots will fulfill the requirements under Ohio law.

Have you been injured at work? Even in difficult cases, our attorneys are here to help. Call Lawrence & Associates for a free consultation today. We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to help you!

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