In some cases, injured workers contact a Columbus workers compensation attorney with a very challenging situation. They tried filing a workers compensation claim after a workplace accident, but found out that their employer didn’t have workers’ compensation insurance. This is a very serious case, because it is strictly against Ohio law, as we will explain later in this article, and carries penalties. However, this is no comfort for the person who has to pay for their medical care and cannot collect wages until they recover.
The good news is that you have various options for recovering your medical costs and getting wage replacements. The important thing is to remember to follow all the rules, just as if your employer had workers’ compensation insurance. Also, present your case to an experienced Columbus workers comp lawyer as soon as possible after you realize that there is no insurance coverage available for you.
Ohio Laws on Workers’ Compensation Coverage
In Ohio, any employer must maintain workers’ compensation insurance, even if they have only one employee. The penalties for non-compliant employers are:
- A lien on their assets placed by the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) for benefits paid to employees out of the state funds
- $30 flat fee for any failure to pay workers’ comp premiums and
- 15% penalty of the amount due.
Additionally, the BWC will charge a penalty of 1% of the workers’ compensation insurance premium for each month in which employers fail to file payrolls on time. Non-compliant employers can quickly rack up thousands of dollars in penalties and late fees.
Yet, as any Columbus workers compensation attorney knows, these penalties are not a sufficient deterrent for dishonest employers. They will try to shirk their obligations to provide benefits for their injured employers in any way they can.
Your Options for Getting Workers Compensation Benefits
As mentioned above, the Ohio BWC maintains a state fund to help workers injured on the job recover their medical care costs and receive a part of their wages until they can return to work. The state recognizes the need to make sure that people do not go in debt because their employer failed to meet their legal obligations.
Thus, as soon as you realize there are no workers’ comp benefits available from your employer, you should get in touch with a Columbus workers compensation attorney to help you file a claim for benefits with the BWC.
What You Need to Know about Getting Compensated by the State
Getting paid out of the uninsured employers’ fund maintained by the Ohio state is not easier than getting your claim approved by your employer’s insurance company. You will still have to prove that:
- The accident occurred at the workplace
- You were on duty/during your shift when the accident occurred
- Your injuries were diagnosed by a licensed healthcare professional
- You took all reasonable steps to mitigate your damages.
Here are some of the key aspects you must remember before you file a claim with the BWC for workers’ compensation:
1. Your Drug Test Must Be Negative
The BWC still wants to know that you were not working under influence of alcohol or drugs when your accident occurred. When you go to hospital for treatments and you state that you were injured at the workplace, most likely they will administer an alcohol and drug test.
If it comes positive for any controlled substance, your claim will most definitely be denied. No lawyer can help you in this instance.
2. You Must Accept an Independent Medical Evaluation
You will have to go to a check-up performed by a state-approved doctor. Remember to cooperate and be polite during this examination. Also, you must disclose any pre-existing conditions. If they come up later during the evaluation of your claim, it will probably be denied.
Rest assured that a Columbus workers compensation attorney will be able to prove that your pre-existing injuries were made worse by the workplace accident and you even got new injuries. Thus, you still have a valid claim, despite the existence of older injuries.
Also, do not forget that in Ohio injured workers have the right to choose the doctor they go to for treatments. Once the evaluation is over, you can return to your own doctor to continue the recovery process.
3. You Must File Your Claim on Time
You have one year from the date of your workplace injury to file a claim with the BWC. However, you should file this claim as soon as possible after your accident. Claims filed weeks or months after the accident are often treated with suspicion. The first suspicion is that you were under influence of alcohol or drugs and waited until the substances were out of the system until you got diagnosed and filed a claim.
Secondly, those who investigate your claim may think that you were injured a few days later, remembered the incident at the workplace and decided to file a claim for benefits. With the help of a Columbus workers compensation attorney, you will file your claim on time and be able to prove that you were actually injured at work.
You Can Also Sue Your Employer
One of the biggest benefits for employers who maintain workers compensation insurance is that they can avoid lawsuits from injured workers. With this compensation scheme in place, the worker has no further legal recourse, because they get their medical costs covered, as well as two thirds of their weekly wages.
However, if the employer is non-compliant, this type of protection disappears. Thus, an injured worker has the right to sue their employer for compensation. A Columbus workers compensation attorney will help you file and win your lawsuit, if they believe that this is an opportune step.
Discuss Your Case with a Workers Comp Attorney
As long as you are eligible to collect workers compensation benefits, an experienced attorney will find a way to win them for you. However, you must remember to follow the rules in order to avoid hurting your own case.
The best solution is to contact a Columbus workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible after your workplace accident. You will receive guidance for every step in the claims process, even if your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance. Schedule a free case review with us and find out the merits of your case: 833-406-0060!