In 35 years of practice I have responded to thousands of calls and questions from potential clients. There are many misconceptions that surround the area of Workers’ Compensation law. If you have not been injured before, you are unfamiliar with the process and your rights under the system. If you rely on friends and family, or your Employer, the information you receive may not be accurate or may be intentionally misleading. At Martin S. Horwitz, Attorney at Law you will always receive a free phone consultation and all of your questions will be answered. As a Board Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist I can provide you with honest, accurate information so that you can obtain all the benefits you are entitled to.
1) “I didn’t miss time from work, so I can’t file a claim.”
This is false. Most claims filed are called “medical only claims.” These are injured workers who went to an ER or Urgent Care for one visit and follow-up with their doctor. Usually the medical facility will file the paperwork for a BWC claim number so they can get paid. But if you work for a self-insured employer, they will tell you that you don’t receive a claim number—or they provide an internal number. Regardless of what kind of employer you work for, you should always get a BWC claim number to be eligible for maximum benefits.
2) “I don’t have insurance so I can’t go to the hospital or get medical treatment.”
This is also false. If you are injured at work, you can go to an ER or doctor and they can bill Workers’ Compensation for your emergency treatment. Obtaining medical treatment immediately after an injury is critical to the claim. It documents the parts of your body injured and the record will serve as evidence that the injury took place at work. These are the two critical pieces of information needed to prove a claim.
3) “I didn’t file an accident report with my employer.”
Filing an accident report may be a requirement your employer sets, but it is not mandatory to prove a claim at a hearing. If you have prompt medical treatment, that record will show the injury occurred at work. I’ve had hundred of claims allowed where there was no accident report file, but the ER report showed an injury at work.
4) “My Employer will fire me.”
If everyone who was injured got fired for filing a claim, there would be no one left to work in Ohio. Employers pay for Workers’ Compensation coverage as a cost of doing business. They expect claims to be filed. They will do what they can to minimize their expense in the claim, but they do not fire every person who injures themselves. Also, there are specific provisions under the Workers’ Compensation law that prohibits an Employer from retaliating against an injured worker if he files a claim.
5) “I no longer work for the same employer.”
Your claim does not depend on continued employment with the same company. In many situations, an injured worker may have been treated for an injury and may already have a claim number but felt he could not pursue further benefits because he changed jobs. Once a claim is allowed, it is open for a specific period of time regardless of your employment status. Even if you are working for a different company, you are may still be entitled to further medical treatment or a cash settlement. Contact our office for a Free Consultation to determine how long your claim will remain open and what additional compensation you might be entitled to.
6) “My company has been sold, closed or moved out of state.”
This has no impact on your claim. Often the sale of a business includes provisions for the new company to assume the claims of the old company. If a company moves out of state it still must maintain coverage of older claims. If a company goes out of business the State of Ohio through the BWC will continue coverage for benefits in the claim. If you have older claims, you may be entitled to a cash Lump Sum Settlement even if your employer no longer exists.
7) “My employer paid my medical bills and said everything was taken care of. Now my injury is worse and I need surgery and time off work. I never received a claim number. Do I have a claim?”
There are several issues in this question and all of them require an attorney to sort out. In many situations when employers pay medical bills, there is a claim. First, you may have a claim number and not realize it. I can easily check on that. Second, if there is a claim, you may need to have additional conditions allowed in the case before surgery will be approved. Finally, if a claim was never filed, my office can obtain your medical records and determine if we are still within the time limit (or statute of limitations) for filing.
8) “I can do this without an attorney. My employer paid my bills and lost wages and the BWC assigned a Claims Service Specialist (CSS) to help me.”
Things may have gone well in the beginning and your employer may have done everything right. There are many good employers who help move a claim through in its early stages. However, if you are denied additional medical treatment, or if you want to file for Permanent Partial Disability, additional allowances, a safety violation or a settlement, the employer and the BWC cannot represent you or advise you. In fact, in recent years the BWC has been very focused on reducing benefits so they can reduce premiums. Most of the hearings I attend are for objections to medical treatment that was denied or Permanent Partial awards based on an unrealistically low exam by a State doctor. The average Claimant does not know what to ask for, does not understand the appeals process or time limits for filing and certainly has no experience in presenting a case in front of a Hearing Officer. Advice from a Specialist is free. Why take a chance with such an important matter.
9) “A lawyer will take 1/3 of everything I get. Why should I pay him thousands for just filing a few papers?”
Why do you pay a doctor thousands for a 10 minute surgery? Because he’s skilled in his job, he’s done it hundreds if not thousands of times and he gets you results. My office does not take ‘1/3 of everything you get.” In most cases, my fees come from the first payment obtained as a result of a hearing, from Permanent Partial awards and from Lump Sum Settlements. I do not charge for phone calls, office consultations, letters, and appearances at hearings or appeals. I do not charge for long term benefits you get on your own such as Temporary Total Disability or Wage Loss. But as your attorney, I will work with you during that time to get treatment and additional allowances. I may attend 6-12 hearings on different treatment and allowance issues before I receive a fee.
10) “I’m not the kind of person who files a Workers’ Compensation claim.”
This is the first line of almost every phone call I receive. The media has portrayed Workers’ Compensation recipients as malingerers, liars and thieves. The fact is this is a right guaranteed to all employees by the Ohio Constitution. If your factory owner or office manager gets hurt, they won’t hesitate to file a claim. Having a claim is like having your own insurance policy for this injury. You need to protect yourself for the future. You may change jobs. Your injury may become worse. You may not be able to continue working. A Workers’ Compensation claim will provides benefits to take care of any future loss of income or medical needs that result from your injury.