A frequent question new clients ask is "How long is my workers' compensation claim open?" This is an important question because medical benefits and compensation cannot be paid in a claim if it has expired. The length of time a claim stays "open" is dependent upon several factors. First, when did the injury happen (or in the case of an occupational disease, what is the listed "date of diagnosis")? For claims with dates of injury or diagnosis before August 25, 2006, the claim is considered to be a 10-year claim and is open for ten years from the date of last payment of compensation, or ten years from the last payment of a medical bill, whichever is later. Compensation must have been paid pursuant to R.C. 4123.56, 4123.57 or 4123.58 (or payment in lieu of compensation is made under a salary continuation agreement or by a self-insured employer). There is a different standard for the life of claims before August 25, 2006, in which no compensation has been paid; those are considered to be 6-year claims.
For injury or occupational disease claims with dates of injury or diagnosis on or after August 25, 2006, the claim is considered to be a 5-year claim and is open for five years from the date of the last payment of compensation or five years from the last payment of a medical bill, whichever is later.
While the claim is "open," the Industrial Commission of Ohio and Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation have "continuing jurisdiction" over the claim. See R.C. 4123.52. As long as the claim is open, the injured worker can seek payment of medical bills and various types of compensation based on the allowed conditions in the claim.
Often, we find that new clients have "old" workers' compensation claims which are still open, but under which compensation was never paid. A common example is an employee who suffers an injury, has residual symptoms (whether ongoing or occasional), but never applied for a permanent partial disability award. Pursuing and obtaining a permanent partial disability (PPD) award serves several purposes. First, obtaining a PPD award will extend the life of the claim either five (5) years or ten (10) years, depending on the date of injury or date of diagnosis of the occupational disease. Second, obtaining a PPD award will compensate the injured worker for the residual "impairment" he or she has due to the injury. A PPD award can be several thousand dollars. Third, obtaining a PPD award can be a step forward in reactivating an otherwise inactive claim and open the door for additional treatment. Fourth, obtaining a permanent partial disability award in your claim may also serve to increase the settlement value of your claim should you choose to pursue a settlement at some future point. Being paid a permanent partial disability award may be viewed as an indication of future ongoing residual problems due to the work injury or occupational disease, which is likely to result in additional compensation or medical exposure to the employer or the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.
It is possible for our office to review all of your old workers' compensation claims and possibly pursue benefits or compensation before they expire. If you are interested in legal representation, please call us today. 614-221-1300.