When it comes to navigating the Ohio workers' compensation system, it can often feel like stepping into a labyrinth of complex rules and regulations. One particular aspect that can leave both employers and injured workers scratching their heads is the concept of "abandonment of employment." In this blog, we'll break down what abandonment of employment means in the context of Ohio workers' compensation and how it can impact benefits.
What is Abandonment of Employment?
Abandonment of employment refers to situations where an injured worker stops working due to their injury. This can encompass a range of scenarios, including retirement or termination by the employer. However, it's crucial to understand that abandonment of employment can be categorized as either voluntary or involuntary, and this classification can significantly impact a worker's eligibility for workers' compensation benefits.
Involuntary Abandonment vs. Voluntary Abandonment
Involuntary Abandonment: If an injured worker decides to quit their job because of the physical or psychological effects of their injury, it is considered an involuntary abandonment. In such cases, workers' compensation benefits should not be barred, and the injured worker may still be eligible for permanent partial awards, wage loss compensation, and medical benefits.
Voluntary Abandonment: On the other hand, if the injured worker voluntarily abandons their job, this may affect their eligibility for certain benefits. Temporary total benefits, for example, may be denied if it's determined that the worker voluntarily left the job market.
Employer Termination and Voluntary Abandonment
If an employer terminates an injured worker due to a violation of a written work rule, this termination may be viewed as a voluntary abandonment of employment. Consequently, it can lead to the denial of temporary total compensation.
In cases where an injured worker has voluntarily abandoned the job market, they may regain eligibility for compensation when they secure a new job. This transition can alter their status regarding benefits.
Permanent Total Compensation and Abandonment
It's important to note that voluntary abandonment of employment may also impact an injured worker's ability to receive permanent total compensation. However, for abandonment to bar an injured worker's right to permanent total compensation, it must be considered a voluntary abandonment of the entire job market.
Exception: Pre-existing Permanent Total Disability
There is an exception to the rule. If an injured worker was already permanently and totally disabled before they retired or voluntarily abandoned the job market, it does not matter if they abandoned it voluntarily; they remain eligible for permanent total compensation.
Determining Abandonment: A Question of Fact
The final say on whether an injured worker abandoned their employment rests with the Industrial Commission. This determination is based on a careful assessment of the specific circumstances surrounding the worker's departure from their job.
In conclusion, understanding abandonment of employment in the context of Ohio workers' compensation is crucial for both employers and injured workers. It's a nuanced concept that can significantly impact benefit eligibility. If you're dealing with a workers' compensation case involving abandonment of employment, it's advisable to seek legal counsel to navigate the complexities of the system effectively.
Do You Need to Speak to an Ohio Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
If you’ve been injured in a work-related accident and are having trouble accessing your workers’ compensation benefits, we encourage you to contact Justice Law Firm today to learn more about how we can help. We welcome your call at 614-543-1320, or we invite you to complete our online contact form at any time.