Workers' compensation benefits provide medical care and partial wage replacement for workers who suffer on-the-job injuries. Many cases can be handled without an attorney's assistance, but it's important to recognize when help is needed to protect your right to benefits.
When You Can Handle Your Case on Your Own
You can likely handle your case on your own if:
- Your injuries are minor. If you will make a full recovery with no lasting impairments, your claim should involve minimal expense.
- You don't have any pre-existing conditions that affect the part of your body you injured in your work accident. Without pre-existing conditions, it is less likely that your employer will try to argue that your injuries are not work-related.
- You miss little or no work due to your injuries. If you're able to return to work quickly, your employer is less likely to contest the claim.
- Your employer isn't disputing that your injury occurred while you were performing your work-related duties. If there's no disagreement that your injury qualifies for benefits, handling your claim is a straightforward process.
Ohio is one of just four states where workers' compensation insurance is provided by the state itself instead of through private insurance companies. Claims with the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) are accepted online, by phone, by fax, by mail, or in person. You can file the claim yourself, or your employer or your employer's managed care organization can file on your behalf.
Once you file a claim, your employer will have the option to reject the claim. If they do not reject the claim outright, the BWC makes the initial decision regarding whether you are entitled to receive benefits for your injury.
Signs It's Time to Ask for Help
You should consult a worker's compensation attorney if:
- Your employer is claiming your injuries aren't work-related. This most often happens when there are no direct witnesses to the accident that caused your injury, or you're injured away from your primary job site. However, it may also happen if you have a pre-existing condition that your employer can use to cast doubt on the cause of your injuries.
- There is a dispute over your medical treatment. Your health should always be your top priority in a workers' comp claim. If you're being denied necessary medical care or being accused of exaggerating the severity of your injuries, you should contact an attorney immediately.
- You've been offered a settlement that doesn't cover all of your expenses. Accepting a settlement prevents you from asking for additional compensation at a later date, so it's important to get an offer that adequately covers your future needs.
- You have a permanent disability. If you have a total or partial impairment that will require ongoing medical care and/or limit your ability to return to work, you need an attorney to fight for the maximum possible compensation. Also, if you're planning to apply for Social Security disability benefits, there are additional factors that must be considered in settling your claim.
- You believe your employer is retaliating against you for filing a claim. Ohio law prohibits employers from penalizing injured workers who seek workers' compensation benefits.
- You have a potential third-party claim. In most cases, workers' compensation is the exclusive remedy for injured workers. However, those who are injured in car accidents caused by others or accidents caused by contractors who acted negligently may also have third-party claims that can increase their total compensation.
If you're currently off work and have yet to receive wage replacement benefits from workers' compensation, it's understandable to be concerned about the cost of legal representation. However, workers' comp attorneys offer free consultations and accept cases on a contingency fee basis. There is no upfront cost to protecting your legal rights.
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.