How Do You Know if You Are Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?
Across the United States, workers’ compensation programs give injured workers access to medical care and compensation in exchange for their giving up the right to sue their employers for injuries incurred on the job. In Ohio, your employer can purchase insurance and “self-insure,” or they can pay a premium and purchase workers’ comp coverage directly from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC).
Most employers are covered by workers’ compensation programs in Ohio, but there are a few exceptions. Federal employees are not covered by the state program, nor are certain types of employers, such as religious organizations and small business owners who employ only themselves. To qualify for workers’ comp, you must be an employee of a company that is required to carry workers’ comp insurance.
Common issues involving workers’ comp in Ohio
Problems arise when employers pay workers “under the table.” When they get injured on the job, these employees are typically not eligible for compensation because their employer was not paying workers’ comp premiums on their behalf. If you believe you are fully employed, but your employer denies you benefits after injury, you may want to consider taking legal action.
Another hazy area involves the use of independent contractors. Contractors are usually not covered by the workers’ compensation policies of their clients. When the work of a contractor — including work assignment, tools, schedule, or transportation — is governed primarily by the client/employer, the employer may be held responsible for on-the-job work injuries. Injured employees who believe they have been misclassified as contractors should seek good legal advice. Alternatively, actual independent contractors who are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits may be able to bring a legal action against a negligent party if they are injured on a job site.
Another common issue is whether employees injured while attending a company event are covered by workers’ compensation. In this situation, the circumstances of the event weigh heavily in the determination of who is financially liable for injuries that occur. When an employer requests that an employee attend a conference, workshop, or office event, the situation could be considered an extension of their workplace environment, and injuries suffered could be covered by a workers’ comp claim. But if a group of office workers decide to go out for the evening, or on a trip, and the event is not organized, funded, or scheduled by the employer, the chances of a successful workers’ comp claim are slim.
Most of the time, workers’ compensation claims are straightforward. Compensation is paid, healthcare is provided, and the employee usually returns to work. When the circumstances are not clear, or a legitimate injury claim has been denied, it is time to get sound legal advice.