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Ohio Passes Workers’ Compensation Budget Bill

by onSeptember 12, 2017

In May, the Ohio House of Representatives passed a bill that would have specifically eliminated workers’ compensation benefits for undocumented workers who were injured on the job. Although the Senate later approved the bill, it eliminated the provisions related to undocumented workers. The final bill was sent to Governor John Kasich who signed it into law on June 30, 2017.

Restrictions for Firefighters Diagnosed with Cancer

Although major policy changes regarding undocumented workers were eliminated from the final bill, the law did make a number of other important changes. For example, the law has long established that members of law enforcement and fire departments who were assigned to at least six years of hazardous duty and were later diagnosed with cancer, would be presumed to have incurred that cancer while performing official duties. However, that presumption can be rebutted when there is evidence that the member incurred the cancer before becoming a member of the department or that he or she was exposed to cigarettes or tobacco products outside of the scope of official duties, which played a significant factor in causing the cancer. The new law added another broad exception to the presumption that cancer will be assumed to have been incurred as a result of conducting work-related activities.

According to the new rules, the presumption of disability can now be rebutted by evidence proving, by a preponderance of competent scientific evidence, that exposure to the type of carcinogen alleged could not have caused cancer. Furthermore, the time under which the presumption applies will now be reduced from 20 years since exposure to 15 years. Firefighters who have contracted cancer and had their claims approved, however, will now be eligible to receive working wage loss in addition to medical benefits.

Additional Changes

Under the terms of the recently enacted bill, all workers’ compensation claims must now be filed within one year of the date of injury. Prior to the change, injured workers had two years in which to file a claim for benefits. Other major changes include:

  • An amendment permitting parties to file a notice of intent to settle within one month of receiving notice of the decision on an appeal;
  • An amendment giving a party who wishes to appeal a decision in court 150 days to do so, unless the other party objects within two weeks;
  • Raising the maximum attorney fee that can be claimed for a successful appeal to $5,000;
  • Allowing the BWC to waive a required medical examination for an injured employee, unless the employer objects;
  • Allowing the BWC to dismiss a permanent partial disability application if the employee, without providing an explanation, misses or refuses to schedule a BWC medical examination; and
  • An amendment allowing injured workers who are awarded temporary total benefits before their weekly wage has been calculated to collect the statewide average weekly wage.

Contact an Experienced Toledo Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today

These changes could have a major impact on how workers’ compensation claims are awarded across the state, so if you were injured at work and have questions about how the new law could affect you, please contact Lafferty, Gallagher & Scott, LLC by calling 419-241-5500 and a member of our dedicated legal team will evaluate your case for free.

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