Thousands of workers across the country are injured on the job every day. These injuries may consist of sudden, acute trauma, or they can develop over time into an occupational illness.
Any workplace injury or illness can have long-term, costly ramifications for Ohio workers, including the inability to work and make a living. This is why workers’ compensation exists and employers in Ohio are required to have it.
Unfortunately, recovering workers’ compensation benefits is not always straightforward. If you suffer an injury on the job, a work-related injuries lawyer can assist you with many aspects of your benefits claim.
Investigating the Workplace Accident
The first step your lawyer will take in a workers’ compensation claim is to perform a thorough investigation. This will include an in-depth discussion with you about how your work-related injury occurred, along with interviewing witnesses and gathering physical evidence.
If your workers’ compensation benefits are underpaid or denied, the evidence and witness testimony will provide crucial support for your claim.
When you are injured at work, it is difficult to know what evidence you may need. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can investigate on your behalf so you can focus on healing.
Understanding Your Work Injury
Not all work injuries are created equal. Some are acute injuries – like falls or injuries involving machinery – while others are long-term consequences of doing a particular job. Long-term occupational illnesses can include everything from carpal tunnel syndrome to being diagnosed with cancer because of prolonged asbestos exposure.
The type and extent of your injury plays a large role in the benefits to which you may be entitled. A lawyer with experience in work-related injuries can evaluate your condition and advise you whether you are being fairly compensated.
Exploring Third-Party Liability
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. Generally, you are barred from filing a personal injury claim against your employer and/or a coworker. However, the negligence of one or more third parties may also contribute to your workplace injury, in which case you may be able to pursue one or more separate claims.
For example, if the injury was caused by a broken machine, your lawyer may be able to pursue compensation against the machine’s manufacturer. Unfortunately, injured workers who try to handle workers’ comp claims on their own are typically unaware of their full legal options.
Third-party liability is vital to consider because workers’ comp benefits only cover a portion of your losses. If another party’s negligence contributed to the accident, you may be able to recover additional compensation for losses such as pain and suffering.
Assisting You with the Workers’ Compensation Claim
After the accident, you should report the accident to your employer as soon as you possibly can. After reporting the accident, you need to file a workers’ compensation claim. In Ohio, you have one year to file for workers’ comp benefits, after which you will not be able to recover any benefits related to your workplace injury.
Workers’ compensation claims are processed through the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (OBWC). You will start by filling out a form called the First Report of Injury, Occupational Disease or Death, which will initiate an investigation by OBWC. A claims service specialist will be assigned to process your claim, and you will receive a letter in the mail, along with an ID card, with details about your case and contact information.
Filling out this paperwork, and doing so properly, can be critical for recovering the benefits you deserve. A work-related injury lawyer can be a big help throughout the process.
Reviewing the OBWC’s Decision
Once your claim has been processed, you will be informed of the decision and the reason behind it. This decision will be made within 28 days of the date the claim was filed.
Your claim can be allowed, denied, or dismissed. Allowed means your claim has been accepted and is payable, denied means the claim is not payable, and dismissed means the claim was withdrawn.
If your claim was denied, it is important to speak with a qualified workers’ compensation attorney who can review the denial, explain what it means, and discuss your options for what to do next.
Appealing the Decision If Your Claim Is Denied
If you decide to dispute the claim – which you certainly should do if you believe you deserve compensation – you have 14 days from the date of receiving the OBWC’s notice to appeal it. Your employer is also able to appeal the claim during this time period.
It is important at this point to fully understand why the claim was denied – whether it was due to inadequate medical documentation, incomplete paperwork, an employer dispute, or something else – and to proceed carefully with an experienced lawyer. Ultimately, you can appeal the decision three times, after which you have the option of taking the claim to court.
Work-related injuries can lead to a lot of frustration and uncertainty, especially when the process of recovering the compensation you need to get back on your feet does not go smoothly. Working through a workers’ compensation claim can feel bureaucratic and complicated, not to mention you may have to fight against parties who try to deny your claim. That is why Colombo Law is here.
If you have been injured in an Ohio workplace accident, don’t hesitate to reach out to the attorneys at Colombo Law for a FREE consultation. Please call (614) 362-7000 today to speak with an experienced work injury lawyer in Columbus.