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What changes are coming to the well-known Ohio workers’ compensation voluntary abandonment doctrine?

Recently, Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 81 which contains several changes to workers’ compensation laws. Most significantly, the bill contains a provision that will codify the common law voluntary abandonment doctrine. This provision should ensure that injured workers do not receive certain disability benefits if their loss of income is not related to the allowed conditions in a claim. Significantly, this codification specifically supersedes any court opinions applying the well-known doctrine.…

The avalanche continues – Illinois workers’ compensation law set for COVID-19 expansion

On June 5, 2020 Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed House Bill 2455 into law, thereby amending the Illinois Workers’ Occupation Diseases Act with respect to claims related to COVID-19. Codified as Public Act 101-0633, the amendment creates a rebuttable presumption that an employee’s contraction of COVID-19 arises out of and in the course of that employee’s first responder or front-line worker employment, and that the injury or occupational disease is rebuttably presumed to be causally connected to the hazards or exposures of the employee’s first responder or front-line worker employment.…

Premium deferral extended and other Ohio BWC updates

Previously, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) announced it will defer employer premium installment payments for the months of March, April and May, making those payments due June 1, 2020. Now the BWC has announced it will further defer premium installment payments for the months of June, July and August as well. This means the deferred premium installment payments are now due Sept. 1, 2020.…

Avoiding the avalanche for now: Court Issues temporary restraining order barring Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission’s emergency amendment

On April 15, 2020, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission issued an emergency amendment creating a rebuttable presumption that, for any essential employee who files for COVID-19 related injuries, those injuries will be presumed to have arisen out of and be casually connected to their employment. You can read more about this amendment and its effects in our prior blog post. As we expected, challenges to the validity of this amendment have already begun.…

Ohio BWC pandemic-related developments

As Ohio attempts to move forward during this pandemic, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) is doing the same. For example, the BWC has resumed the scheduling of medical exams where necessary, is using alternative methods such as file reviews when possible, and has provided guidance on telemedicine resources to assist with the continuation of benefits to injured workers. The BWC is also making efforts to ease the economic impacts to businesses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are some highlights that employers, both self-insured and state-funded, should be aware of during this unprecedented time.…

Proposed changes to Ohio workers’ compensation laws react to COVID-19 pandemic

Ohio lawmakers have proposed multiple bills that would expand the Ohio workers’ compensation laws in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the end of March 2020, lawmakers introduced House Bill 573 that would include COVID-19 as a statutorily defined occupational disease under the Ohio workers’ compensation laws, similar to other occupational diseases such as asbestosis.…

Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission opens the door to an avalanche of COVID-19 claims

This blog was updated on April 28, 2020 in the blog, “Avoiding the avalanche for now: Court Issues temporary restraining order barring Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission’s emergency amendment.

As of April 16, 2020, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission has created a rebuttable presumption that, for any essential employee who contracts COVID-19 and later files for workers’ compensation for those injuries, that employee’s injuries will be presumed to have arisen out of, and be causally connected to, their employment.…

Ohio BWC to refund $1.6 billion to Ohio employers

On Friday April 10, 2020 the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Board of Directors approved Gov. Mike DeWine’s plan to distribute $1.6 billion to state business in light of the current economic downturn related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The agreed amount is roughly equal to premiums paid by Ohio employers for the 2018 policy year.…

Updated Ohio BWC guidance regarding COVID-19 concerns

On April 8, 2019, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) published an updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page that specifically recognizes the potential compensability of COVID-19 claims as occupational disease claims. The BWC acknowledges that although communicable diseases like COVID-19 are typically not compensable, there is a possibility that the BWC could allow claims for this virus. When evaluating compensability, the BWC will consider how the disease was contracted and the nature of the claimant’s occupation. The BWC is careful to note that few jobs will have a greater risk of exposure than the general public which will be …

What parties need to know about tolled statutes of limitations for Ohio workers’ compensation claims

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.…

New York becomes first state to enact paid sick leave law in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

As we recently reported, President Donald Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to provide paid Family Medical Leave (FMLA) and paid sick leave to families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the law provides a number of protections to American workers, it also has a few gaps. One gap in the FFCRA, for example, is that it does not apply to employers of 500 or more employees.…

Ohio BWC guidance for employers during COVID-19 outbreak

On March 19, 2020, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) issued some guidance to employers and employees to explain how the BWC is continuing to operate during this crisis. The BWC is continuing to process claims. For employers, the present changes may result in increased claim costs attributed to their risk. The BWC is permitting benefits to continue while suspending some of the employees’ requirements to maintain those benefits.…

Workers’ compensation implications of COVID-19 in the workplace

Presently there are many uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus outbreak. It is certainly possible employees will allege they contracted coronavirus while at work. Given that the United States has not experienced a pandemic in a significant period of time, this is a gray area for employers. Most states do not have specific legislation addressing this situation.

In general, any illness, injury or occupational disease could be a compensable claim if it arises out of the course and scope of the employee’s employment. The difficulty is that it is likely impossible to determine with certainty as to where the employee contracted the …

Are Ohio workers’ compensation laws changing?

As we reported in June, the Ohio legislature attempted to make substantial changes to workers’ compensation laws as part of the overall budget. However, after the House and Senate could not reach an agreement on many parts of the budget, Gov. DeWine permitted the legislature additional time to reach a compromise. The actual budget submitted to and signed by the governor contained NO changes to the workers’ compensation laws. Conspicuously absent from the budget was the House’s proposal requiring any applicant for workers’ compensation benefits to disclose whether they were a citizen or not. Further, the budget did not include …

Applicants may be required to declare citizenship status when filing for Ohio workers’ compensation benefits

The Ohio House of Representatives passed a two year $645 million workers’ compensation budget on June 5, 2019. As part of the budget bill, a provision was added that requires anyone who files an application for a workers’ compensation claim through the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, to identify themselves as either a U.S. citizen, a noncitizen with permission to work in the country or an illegal alien or an unauthorized alien. All applicants may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits regardless of citizenship identification. However, under the bill, anyone providing false information on a claim application will be ineligible …

Resources and events for employers offered by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) hosts monthly webinars for employers to learn more about workers’ compensation topics. The brief webinars help employers stay up to date on developments in the workers’ compensation system. You can visit the employer webinar webpage on the Ohio BWC website to learn more about upcoming webinars and register to attend.

In addition, the BWC is hosting its Fourth Annual Workers’ Compensation Medical and Health Symposium on April 26-27, 2019 at the Great Columbus Convention Center.  There is no cost to attend.

Attendees of the provider clinical education track will have access to state …

Voluntary abandonment doctrine strengthened by Ohio Supreme Court

On Sept. 27, 2018,the Ohio Supreme Court took the unusual step of overturning two prior decisions in an attempt to clarify a confusing aspect of workers’ compensation law. A long-standing tenet of workers’ compensation law, temporary total disability compensation, is intended to compensate an injured worker when they are unable to work due to a work-related injury. To be entitled to temporary total disability compensation, an injured worker must be medically unable to work and the inability to work must be caused by the work injury.

One exception to this rule, and a defense routinely used by employers, is the …

Workers’ compensation law aiming to reduce appeal time is constitutional

The Ohio Supreme Court has definitively decided that an employee cannot unilaterally dismiss an employer-initiated appeal in a workers’ compensation case; rather, the employer must consent to the dismissal.

After a workers’ compensation claim proceeds administratively before the Industrial Commission, any party may appeal the Commission’s decision to permit the employee to participate in the workers’ compensation system to the Court of Common Pleas. After an appeal is filed, the employee must file a petition/complaint within 30 days.

Regardless of which party files the appeal, the employee is the plaintiff in the workers’ compensation case. While the court case is …

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