Were you injured on the job?
Workers in Ohio do a lot of tough jobs. From machinists and factory workers to construction laborers and hospital staffers, a large percentage of employees in Cleveland do physically demanding labor, often for years on end. When accidents happen, they may assume that workers’ compensation will take care of them, only to discover a system fraught with complexity and rigid deadlines. If you are in this position, you have probably seen this firsthand.
At Elk & Elk, our goal is to make sure you are taken care of financially during your recovery and have the tools you need to return to work as soon as possible. That could involve retraining, assistive devices or other accommodations to compensate for your injury. While dealing with the workers’ compensation process can be difficult, our decades of combined experience make it much easier. We have helped injured workers throughout Ohio for a long time. We can help you, too.
Schedule a free appointment to discuss your situation. No obligation, no charge: 1-800-ELK-OHIO (1-800-355-6446).
Am I eligible for workers’ compensation?
Many people think that only construction workers and other labor-intensive jobs are eligible for workers’ compensation, but that is not true. While those industries may see a higher number of injuries, if you were hurt while working at your job — almost any job — you can seek workers’ compensation benefits. Possible scenarios include:
- A nurse who injured his or her back while lifting a patient
- An office worker who slipped and fell in the break room
- A welder who suffered a serious burn at a job site
- A sales representative who broke an arm at a customer’s office
To be eligible for workers’ compensation in Ohio, this is what you must show:
- You are an employee.
Some companies falsely claim that their employees are actually contractors to get out of offering workers’ compensation benefits.
- The injury was an accident.
Ohio has a no-fault system when it comes to workers’ compensation. Even if you were careless, that does not invalidate your claim.
- The injury happened while you were on the job.
You do not have to be at your workplace to satisfy this requirement. Many Cleveland workers do off-site jobs in other cities or even in Pennsylvania or New York. If you were on the clock and being paid, you are eligible.
- The injury occurred as a direct result of your job.
This is straightforward in many cases, such as being hit by a piece of heavy equipment. However, some injuries do not happen all at once — they are cumulative. These injuries include repetitive stress injuries, exposure to toxic substances over a long time and a compromised heart or blood vessels. In these cases, detailed and specific medical records can establish that a health condition is directly related to your work.
Proving some of these elements can be trickier than you think, so it is always best to consult with an attorney if questions arise. It could mean the difference between receiving compensation and making do without.
When should I contact an attorney?
Sometimes a system that’s intended to help you can do the opposite. While many injured workers have positive experiences with workers’ compensation, not everyone does. You should contact an attorney immediately if you have experienced any of the following:
- Your employer does not believe you were injured.
This could be a case of your boss thinking your injury did not occur on the job or doubting you were injured at all and accusing you of fabricating your story.
- You have not received needed medical care.
You may not have found a suitable doctor, or your company may be discouraging you from seeking treatment.
- You have not received pay.
Workers’ compensation is supposed to bridge the financial gap when you are unable to work. If that has not happened, you need to involve an attorney.
- An insurance company’s lawyer has asked you for a statement.
Insurance companies always want to avoid paying if they can, and one way they do that is by getting you on record and then using your own statement against you. An attorney will prevent them from twisting your words.
- You have opted to represent yourself in a lawsuit, and someone is trying to exploit your lack of legal knowledge.
Lawsuits are challenging, and people with expertise will try to take advantage of you if they sense that you do not have legal experience. Having your own attorney will prevent simple errors that could undermine your case.
- You have not received benefits or treatment that an insurance company promised.
Insurance companies will not always do what they say they are going to do. When the promised help never arrives, an attorney can help you get the benefits you deserve.
This is only a partial list of scenarios that demand an attorney’s involvement in your case. If you have questions about your situation, please contact us as soon as you can. The sooner we know the details, the sooner we can help you.
How do I file a workers’ compensation claim?
The workers’ compensation system in Ohio is different from every other state. In most places, employers carry workers’ compensation insurance, just as they would for other potential liabilities. In Ohio, though, a state-run agency, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), operates the entire system. This can make the whole process more complicated, depending on how things go.
After a workplace injury, here are the steps you should take to receive benefits:
- Make an official injury report to your employer.
Start by talking to your supervisor. Many employers have official forms that you will need to fill out. Be as specific and detailed as possible, including the time of the incident, any witnesses, what your injuries were and what caused them.
- Get medical treatment.
You should do this as soon as possible, regardless of how severe you think your injury is. You should see a physician with experience in workers’ compensation cases, as they know how much documentation you will need.
- Contact the BWC and file a report.
The BWC has a form called the First Report of Injury (FROI) that you must file within a certain time. You can do this yourself or your physician or employer can do it on your behalf.
After you have filed your report with the BWC, it will contact you and either approve or deny your benefits within 28 days. If it denies your benefits, you can appeal the decision.
Let us be your guide
The workers’ compensation process can be complicated, especially when you are recovering from an injury. To ensure that everything proceeds smoothly, it is always a good idea to learn what a seasoned attorney can do for you. Contact us for a free consultation and see how we can guide you through the process. We are available through our online contact form or by phone: 1-800-ELK-OHIO (1-800-355-6446).