With very few exceptions, workers' compensation benefits provide medical care and partial wage replacement for Ohio workers injured in on-the-job accidents. In some cases, coverage even extends to volunteer workers.
Eligibility for Workers' Compensation Benefits
Ohio law requires businesses with one or more employees to provide workers' compensation coverage. Coverage applies to all employees, including part-time, full-time, temporary, and seasonal workers. There is no age requirement to receive benefits, so teens injured at work have the same legal rights as adults.
In most states, domestic workers hired to work in and around a private home are not eligible for workers' compensation. However, Ohio law requires employers to provide coverage to any worker who earns $160 or more per quarter. This includes babysitters, nannies, cooks, housekeepers, gardeners, and landscapers.
Individuals classified as independent contractors are not eligible for workers' compensation benefits. An independent contractor is a person who has the freedom to schedule their own work and performance goals. If a business controls the individual's working hours, provides materials, and dictates their performance, this means that an employer-employee relationship exists and the employer must provide workers' compensation coverage.
Generally speaking, volunteers are not eligible for workers' compensation benefits because they earn no wages. However, volunteers who provide emergency services for cities, townships, or villages are covered by workers' compensation. This includes volunteer firefighters, volunteer emergency medical technicians, and volunteer police officers. Public employers can choose to extend coverage to volunteers performing non-emergency services, but they are not legally required to do so.
How Fault Affects Eligibility for Benefits
Workers' compensation is a no-fault system. A worker could receive benefits even if their own carelessness or inexperience caused their injury. However, coverage can be denied for injuries caused by:
- Intentional self-harm
- Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Employers are not permitted to discipline, demote, or retaliate against an employee for seeking workers' compensation benefits—even if the employee's actions caused the injury.
The BWC offers a religious exemption for employers who are members of religious sects that object to the payment and acceptance of insurance benefits, such as employers within the Amish and Mennonite communities in Ohio.
Employers must apply to the BWC to receive the religious exemption for themselves and their employees. If a business employs non-Amish or non-Mennonite workers who do not qualify for the religious exemption, the business must continue paying premiums for those workers.
How Coverage Is Provided
In Ohio, businesses have two options for handling workers' compensation coverage:
- State-funded. Ohio is one of just four states where coverage is provided through a state-administered fund instead of a private insurer. Companies who utilize the state fund pay premiums to the Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC). When a worker is injured, the BWC pays compensation benefits directly to the worker.
- Self-insured. If a business does not want to participate in the state-funded program, it can choose to be self-insured and assume the financial risk of claims related to an employee's work injury. Self-insured employers pay benefits directly to their employees. There are strict requirements that a business must follow to prove they have the financial ability to remain self-insured.
Would You Like to Speak to an Ohio Workers' Compensation Attorney?
Although the vast majority of Ohio workers qualify for workers' compensation benefits, it's not always easy to determine if you've been wrongfully denied coverage. If you have questions about your workers' compensation claim, 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.