The old adage “ignorance of the law is no excuse” couldn’t be more true for people who are struggling with the Workers’ Compensation system in Ohio. For far too long, we have seen injured workers taken advantage of by bureaucrats, managed care organizations, and unscrupulous employers – all because the workers didn’t know and understand their rights! That prompted us to author and publish our Workers’ Compensation Bill of Rights – ten (10) clear and concise items of information that every injured worker needs to know to make certain that they are receiving the benefits and protections that coverage under a Workers’ Compensation claim is supposed to bring.
Over the next ten weeks, we will be discussing the ten individual rights which we have spotlighted and it is my privilege to kick off week #1 with Right #1 – “You have the right to file a claim with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation for any injury sustained or any disease contracted in the course of and arising out your employment”.
In order to perfect a claim, it must be filed with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) or The Industrial Commission of Ohio (IC) within two (2) years of the date that you were injured or within (2) years of the date that you first became disabled due to an occupational disease. In order to file a claim, you may submit it in writing to BWC or IC or you may contact BWC by phone to report your injury. BWC provides a form FROI-1 with instructions as to its completion. Verification that a claim has been filed will be provided by BWC with written correspondence to the injured worker together with an assigned claim number. Submitting the claim to your employer, to your doctors, to the managed care organization or to anyone other than BWC or the IC is not sufficient to protect you. And there are few exceptions to that rule. To maximize your protection, it is absolutely essential that the claim be on file with BWC or IC within the two (2) year period as specified above.
Many people believe that the employer has an obligation to file a claim for them. That is not necessarily true although there are circumstances where an employer is required to report injuries resulting in more than seven days lost time. If the employer fails to report an injury resulting in more than seven (7) days lost time, then the 2 year statute of limitations for filing may be extended – but not indefinitely. Also, certain actions such as the employer providing medical care, paying for treatment, or paying compensation CAN serve to satisfy the requirement of filing the claim within two (2) years.
More and more lately, I have heard prospective clients report that employers have told them they have no right to file a claim because the injury wasn’t reported within a specified period of time like 24 or 48 hours. Nothing could be further from the truth! There are no injury reporting deadlines in the law that affect your right to file a claim.
In order to receive the protections to which you are entitled, you must know your rights. If you have any questions or need any additional information, please visit Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer Co., L.P.A. on the web or contact us at 419-843-2001 or 567-455-5470. For a free copy of the Workers’ Compensation Bill of Rights, please click here.
You have the right to file a claim within 2 years of your injury. The claim must be filed with BWC or the IC. Period.
William E. Takacs, Esq.