New Ohio Workers Compensation Wage Loss Rules Increase Burden Upon Injured Workers

by Dean Pavick on March 3, 2014

The Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation(BWC) and Ohio industrial Commission recently came out with a new rule on wage loss compensation effective 2-14-14.

The new rule is 10 pages long and significantly increases the burden upon injured workers applying for this type of compensation. The 2006 wage loss statute itself is only 3 short paragraphs long and is set forth in less than one half of a page. The concept of wage loss compensation is fairly simple:

  1. the injured worker’s allowed injuries in the claim prevent the worker from returning to his/her job held at the time of injury
  2. the injured worker’s treating doctor imposes written work restrictions based upon the injuries
  3. the injured worker, as a direct result, suffers total or partial wage loss which is less than the employee’s average weekly wage set in the claim.

In comparison, the rule for an injured worker receiving rehabilitation wage loss payments is only 3 pages long. The difference? Regular wage loss compensation(also known as “Section 56 wage loss”) can have a direct financial impact upon the employer of record’s  premiums whereas rehabilitation wage loss payments have very little effect, if any, upon the employer’s premium payments. While everyone can agree that there needs to be some minimum requirements upon the employee to be eligible to receive regular wage loss compensation, overburdensome and complicated wage loss rules are a gift to employers and a nightmare for injured workers. The BWC and Industrial Commission do not see what workers compensation attorneys often see with their clients after temporary total compensation is terminated. With no income, injured workers often face burdensome debt, financial ruin and even significant stress in their marital relationships. Somewhere along the way, the balance between the costs to employers and the benefits awarded to injured workers has been lost under the Ohio workers compensation program. Injured workers aren’t asking for charity handouts in the workers compensation system but rather for a more fair and balanced system that recognizes the original “compensation bargain” established in Ohio more than 100 years ago to limit employees’ rights to sue their employers for common law damages in order to receive expeditious wage replacement compensation and payment of medical bills for their injuries.

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