The Importance of Prompt Medical Treatment and Reporting in Ohio Workers Compensation Claims

by Dean Pavick on January 21, 2014

Statistics show that most on the job injuries in Ohio are uncomplicated minor injuries requiring little medical treatment with full recovery within a short period of time.

However, in certain cases, “minor” injuries can be more serious than originally thought or can develop into more serious conditions. Cuts and scrapes can become infected. Deep bruises can occasionally cause blood clots, nerve damage or joint immobility or may be part of more serious conditions such as fractures or cartilage damage. Strains may also be accompanied by ligamentous damage or herniated discs.

We recently had a client who cut the tip of his finger at work. He cleaned the wound and put on a bandage and did nothing further.Over the next two weeks the fingertip became swollen, tender and turned reddish.By the time he sought medical treatment an infection had spread to the bone and his finger had to be partially amputated.The client ended up missing 10 weeks from work and underwent extensive physical therapy treatments. The employer contested the claim and the BWC disallowed it. The client began receiving healthcare provider bills which totaled thousands of dollars. He had no money coming in and fell behind on his house and car payments. The client was under considerable stress  by the time he came into the office. Eventually we won allowance of the claim including the complications.

Another client bumped and bruised his knee on a machine at work. He didn’t think much of this “minor” injury at the time and did nothing further.Over the next several weeks his knee became increasingly swollen, more painful and stiff.He eventually saw his family doctor who ordered x-rays which revealed a patellar(knee cap) fracture. An MRI revealed chondromalacia(damage of the knee cap cartilage).The employer contested the claim and the BWC disallowed it. We eventually won the claim and had all the conditions allowed at a second Industrial Commission hearing 4 months later.

Unfortunately, due to prolonged delay in receiving initial treatment and failure to initially report the injury to the employer, some of our clients’ claims remained disallowed. Some clients were able to have their medical bills ultimately paid under group health insurance but received no disability payments. Other clients either lost their health insurance coverage or had no health insurance leaving them personally responsible for payment of medical/hospital bills and no compensation payments for lost time from work or permanency of their injuries.

The lesson learned from these workers compensation cases is  for the worker to immediately report any on the job injuries,no matter how “minor” to the employer and to promptly seek medical treatment. These actions do not guarantee that the claim or all conditions will be allowed by the BWC or Industrial Commission. However, such prompt action on the part of the injured worker increases the likelihood of a favorable outcome. Even if the injury does turn out to be minor, the injured worker at least may have peace of mind by avoiding unnecessary delays,litigation and increased financial and mental worries.

 

 

 

 

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