Recap of 2021 Changes to Workers' Comp. Law

Effective September 28, 2021, the workers' compensation law in Ohio has changed pursuant to Amended Substitute House Bill 75 as follows:

  1. Workers' compensation claims for "occupational diseases" must now be filed within one (1) year, according to R.C. 4123.85. This is known as the statute of limitations, and aligns occupational disease claims with injury claims, which also must be filed within one year of the accident or injury. "In all cases of occupational disease, or death resulting from occupational disease, claims for compensation or benefits are forever barred unless, within one year after the disability due to the disease began, or within such longer period as does not exceed six months after diagnosis of the occupational disease by a licensed physician or within one year after death occurs, application is made to the industrial commission or the bureau of workers' compensation or to an employer if the employer is a self-insuring employer." In White v. Mayfield, 37 OhioSt.3d 11, 13 (Ohio1988), the Ohio Supreme Court clarified what "disability due to an occupational disease" means as "the date on which the claimant first became aware through medical diagnosis that he was suffering from such disease or the date on which he first received medical treatment for such disease or the date claimant first quit work on account of such disease, whichever date is the latest." As you can see, this definition potentially expands the deadline within which an injured worker can timely file an occupational disease since these types of conditions are sometimes not immediately known to the injured worker, or there may be a long latency period for the contraction of the occupational disease due to remote and harmful exposures at work.
  2. Injured workers filing for permanent partial disability compensation after September 28, 2021, must wait twenty-six (26) weeks from the later of the injury date / contraction of occupational disease, or the date of last paid compensation for temporary total disability or wage loss compensation, or the date of last payment of salary continuation or injury leave. See R.C. 4123.57. Before this amendment, wages in lieu of compensation (such as salary continuation and/or injury leave) were not counted in the 26-week waiting period.
  3. If an injured worker had filed an application for permanent total disability compensation and was denied in the past, any new application for permanent total disability compensation after September 28, 2021, must be supported by "new and changed circumstances." R.C. 4123.58(G) was added to the permanent total disability statute and states: "If the industrial commission has adjudicated a claimant's application for compensation payable under this section for permanent total disability and issued a final order denying compensation for that application, the claimant shall present evidence of new and changed circumstances before the industrial commission may consider a subsequent application filed by the claimant for compensation under this section for the same injury or occupational disease identified in the previous application." Some potential examples of new and changed circumstances are the addition of new conditions in the claim, surgery for the allowed conditions, a return to work followed by a new period of temporary total disability, or significant new treatment modalities for the allowed conditions in the claim.
  4. The previous version of R.C. 4121.43(D) has been repealed effective September 28, 2021, meaning that injured workers are now permitted to provide their attorneys with a power of attorney to endorse or cash a compensation check on their behalf. The statutory language contained within old section "E" of R.C. 4121.43 is now contained within old section "D."

For more information about these changes, or to discuss your own claim, please call us at 614-221-1300.

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