In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed House Bill 197 (HB 197) on March 27, 2020, which tolls numerous workers’ compensation deadlines set to expire between March 9, 2020 and July 30, 2020.
Therefore, any relevant statute of limitations related to workers’ compensation claims will not expire during the time period between March 9, 2020 and July 30, 2020. This change will impact several key events in the workers’ compensation claim process.
The statute of limitations for an injured worker filing a claim is typically one year from the date of injury. Based on HB 197, if an injury occurred in the time frame of March 9, 2019 through July 30, 2019, a claimant’s deadline to file a claim application is extended to at least July 30, 2020. This also applies to the refiling of a dismissed claim or filing additional allowance motions.
Likewise, the statute of limitations for filing an appeal to a common pleas court, from a final Industrial Commission order is 60 days. If the statutory deadline was set to expire on or after March 9, 2020, it is now tolled until after July 30, 2020.
The time that the Industrial Commission is required to process and administer claims is also relaxed. For example, the Industrial Commission is required to hold hearings within 45 days from a motion or application for benefits, unless waived by the parties. Hearings related to motions, appeal, and contested issues may now be held outside the statutorily required time frame.
Although the statutory deadlines are affected by HB 197, the Ohio Industrial Commission will continue to conduct limited telephonic hearings on the issues of allowance of a claim, additional allowance motions, requests for temporary total disability, termination of temporary total disability, requests for wage loss compensation and permanent total disability until further notice.
Parties appealing a workers’ compensation claim to a common pleas court should also be aware of the altered timeframe of court proceedings. In conjunction with HB 197, the Supreme Court of Ohio issued an order tolling all deadlines established by the Ohio Rules of Court, with limited exceptions.
Like HB 197, the tolling order applies to all time requirements, defined as “the time for filing all pleadings, appeals, and all other filings; time limitations; deadlines; and other directives related to time, including non-constitutional jurisdictional deadlines” set to expire between March 9, 2020, and July 30, 2020.
Although court deadlines may be tolled, individual courts may still set their own case deadlines and issue orders requiring filing in accordance with existing court rules.
Furthermore, nothing prohibits a party from continuing to file pleadings, motions, or other documents if the court is able to receive filings due to local accommodations during this emergency period.
We will continue to monitor these developments.
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