Most workers are familiar with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) temporary total disability (TTD) benefits that Ohio law provides to replace the wages of those who are unable to work while recovering from a work-related injury. They may not be as familiar with other benefits available for those who qualify. This article provides a brief overview of some of these additional benefits.
Q: Can I receive a pain and suffering award for my industrial injury?
A: Generally, no, but you may be able to receive permanent partial disability compensation for the permanent effects of your industrial injury, which is similar to a pain and suffering award sometimes provided for victims of personal injury accidents such as car collisions.
Q: What if the doctor says I can never return to work again?
A: You may qualify for permanent total disability benefits, which are given to those who can no longer work due to the industrial injury. However, if your claim is allowed for, say, low back trouble, the hearing officer cannot consider any health conditions other than the lower back trouble that was allowed. To receive these benefits, you likely will have to attend a hearing, where a hearing officer will consider your age, education, work experience and other disability factors in determining whether you qualify for permanent total disability benefits. These benefits are payable from the date of the award until you either return to work or die. This lifetime benefit is reserved for the most seriously injured workers who have first made every effort to rehabilitate themselves or find other work.
Q: My spouse has been killed on the job. Are survivor benefits available?
A: Yes, death benefits are payable to the spouse and children of a worker whose death is the result of an industrial injury. Benefits are paid at 66 2/3 percent of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage and are payable until the spouse remarries, in which case, he or she is still entitled to an additional two years of benefits.
Benefits for the children can continue to be paid until they reach age 18 or become emancipated, and may continue to be paid until the age of 25 if they are enrolled in an accredited institution of higher learning.
Q: Are any additional awards available to me?
A: Yes. If, for example, your employer violated a specific safety requirement of Ohio law or the BWC, you can apply for compensation based on the specific safety requirement violation. Such an award constitutes a penalty for an employer and continues for any future compensation paid in the claim. Even if your average weekly wage is low, the benefit for the violation of a specific safety requirement is based upon the statutory maximum for that year of injury.
Q: Are there cost-of-living increases for workers’ compensation benefits?
A: No, with very rare exceptions.
Q: Can I apply for a lump sum settlement of my workers’ compensation claim?
A: Yes. The BWC will work with you to settle your workers’ compensation claim. If a settlement is reached, the case is closed and no further compensation or medical benefits are ever payable.
Q: Do I need a lawyer?
A: Workers’ compensation claims that only involve a trip to an emergency room and payment of the bill may be simple, but more complicated cases involving time away from work or the less commonly applied benefits outlined above may require a lawyer’s help.
Q: Where can I get more information?
A: Visit the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation website at www.ohiobwc.com.
This “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was prepared by Columbus attorney David Barnhart of the Philip J. Fulton Law Office.