History of Workers’ Compensation
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History of Workers’ Compensation

by | Sep 30, 2020 | Blog, General Practice/Litigation/Appeals, Workers' Compensation |

Every state in the country has some form of workers’ compensation benefits. Each state has it’s own system which they fund with state money. Ohio has it’s own unique system, and while it certainly is not perfect, it is financially stable and offers a process by which injured workers can contest a denial or appeal to the Court of Common Pleas.

The system is NOT funded by tax-payer’s money or workers. BWC collects insurance premiums from employers directly, based on the type of work they do and the payroll for that company. So a large construction company pays significantly more for their coverage than a medical office. Every employer must be “amenable” to the statue and they must have coverage. Their failure to secure coverage does not preclude an injured worker from filing a claim and the BWC will seek dollar-for-dollar restitution against a non-complying employer.

Pre-1911, an injured worker was forced to file a tort claim in the Court of Common Pleas. They had to allege negligence and then the employee’s actions could prevent a claim. This was cumbersome: slow, expensive, and difficult to prove/win. Often times, it would bankrupt the employer so that even if the injured worker prevailed, there was no one left to pay.

By 1955, the legislature had established the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and created a no-fault system wherein both employers and employees gave up certain rights for the benefit of everyone. Employers now pay insurance premiums and lost their right to assert certain defenses in a WC claim. But it has stabilized their costs because they are spread across all employers in Ohio. Employees are limited in their recovery to payment of compensation and medical benefits, thereby losing the right to punitive damages. But, there is no expense for them to file/pursue a claim (expert witnesses, filing fees, etc…) and the system is expedited compared to a court case.

While is it not perfect, the intention is that everyone in the State of Ohio will share in the costs of an injury, so that Ohio can keep working!

Attorney Kelly Willis

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