• Workers' Compensation Changes Should Benefit Employers
  • January 24, 2018 | Author: Amy Berman Hamilton
  • Law Firm: Nicola, Gudbranson & Cooper, LLC - Cleveland Office
  • Recent modifications streamline process in most cases

    Several recent, significant changes in Ohio workers' compensation laws should positively impact employers in several ways. The changes include:

    HANDICAP REIMBURSEMENT PROGRAM APPLIES TO SETTLEMENTS

    The handicap reimbursement program, which for certain specifically identified conditions may reduce claim costs charged to a state-funded employer, now applies to settlements. This change removes a previous disincentive to settle claims. Employers will benefit from the handicap discount whether the claim remains active or is settled.

    NON-AT-FAULT ACCIDENT CLAIMS COSTS MAY BE EXCLUDED FROM EXPERIENCE

    If an employee's claim is the result of a motor vehicle accident where a third party is at fault, the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) will exclude the claim cost from the employer's experience if certain conditions are met. To take advantage of this, the at-fault driver must have insurance or the employer must have uninsured motorist coverage for the employee vehicle. The program applies to state-funded employers and public taxing district employers for accidents occurring on or after July 1, 2017. A few additional requirements apply, so make sure to check them before applying.

    STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REDUCED TO ONE YEAR

    The statute of limitations for an injury or death claim has been changed to require an injured worker to file an application for benefits within one year, instead of two, for claims arising on or after September 29, 2017. While a large majority of workers' compensation claims are filed within days or weeks of an alleged injury, this should curtail later filings that are often highly questionable, yet more difficult to disprove owing to the passage of time. The new statute of limitations applies to injury and death claims only. It does not apply to occupational disease claims or violation of a specific safety requirement (VSSR) applications.

    OTHER CHANGES OF IMPORTANCE

    • The time for filing a court appeal can be extended from 60 to 150 days from receipt of the final order of the Ohio Industrial Commission, if either party files a notice of intent to settle a claim with the administrator of the BWC within 30 days of receipt of the final order. The deadline will be extended unless the opposing party files an objection to the notice of intent to settle within 14 days of receipt of the notice.
    • The BWC can now dismiss a permanent partial disability application if the claimant fails to schedule or attend a medical examination. Previously, the BWC could only suspend the application.
    • The BWC may now waive a 90-day examination, unless the employer objects.
    • Under the rebuttable presumption defense for positive post-accident drug and alcohol screens, the list of prohibited controlled substances and the threshold limits have been revised to conform to the Code of Federal Regulations.
    • Workers' compensation benefits are prohibited to be paid to an incarcerated dependent; the law formerly was limited to incarcerated claimants.
    • The maximum attorney fee for a claimant's successful court appeal has been raised from $4,200 to $5,000.