Columbus, OH (January 2016) - Charles Zamora, a workers' compensation attorney, encourages injured workers in Ohio to try to settle their workers' compensation claims before they expire.
"In Ohio, workers' compensation claims that become inactive will eventually expire," says Charles Zamora, a certified specialist in Ohio workers' compensation law. "The law changed on August 25, 2006, providing that all injury claims after that date are five-year claims." When a medical bill or compensation is paid in the first five years of the claim, it serves to extend the life of the claim an additional five years from the date of that payment.
If a claim is approaching the five-year expiration, injured workers should take advantage of an opportunity to settle the claim and receive a money payment before the claim ends. Once a claim expires, the injured worker loses the opportunity to receive a settlement. There are several factors that determine the settlement value of a workers' compensation claim:
No. 1: The medical conditions approved in the claim. Ohio workers' compensation claims are allowed for specific medical conditions, such as a cervical sprain, a disc herniation, or arthritis of the knee. Serious medical conditions warrant a higher settlement because of the prospect that permanent conditions will eventually require future treatment.
No. 2: The "average weekly wage" set in the claim. In order for any compensation to be paid in a claim, the injured worker's average weekly (AWW) wage needs to be set. The AWW is based upon the injured worker's earnings in the one-year time period prior to the industrial accident. A high wage earner will receive a higher compensation rate than an injured worker who had lower earnings.
No. 3: The past history of medical benefits and compensation paid in the claim. Claims in which high amounts of compensation and medical expense were paid in the past is often a measure of potential future expenses if the claim is kept open. The injured worker can obtain a printout from the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) or the self-insured employer of compensation and medical expenses paid so that an estimate of future expenses can be determined.
No. 4: A settlement application must be submitted before the claim expires. A claim will eventually expire according to Chapter 4123 of the Ohio Revised Code. While the claim is still open, the injured worker should attempt to either seek a reactivation of the claim or submit a settlement proposal to the Ohio BWC. Failure to act in a timely manner can result in an automatic closure of the claim and a significant financial loss to the injured worker.