House Bill 81: Changes to the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Law

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BeneschStarting September 15, 2020,  H.B. 81 became effective making noteworthy changes to the Ohio workers’ compensation law. The intent of the new bill was to create workers’ compensation coverage for detention facility employees; however, the new bill makes several changes that will benefit all Ohio employers.

First, H.B. 81 codifies the voluntary abandonment doctrine regarding temporary total disability (“TTD”).  Under the new law, “if an employee is not working or has suffered a wage loss as the direct result of reasons unrelated to the allowed injury or occupational disease, the employee is not eligible to receive compensation.” In short, if the employee cannot work due to factors unrelated to the injury, the employee will not receive compensation. Because this new law supersedes any prior court decision regarding voluntarily abandonment, the new law eliminates judicially-created exceptions to the voluntary abandonment doctrine.  Such defense will apply to claims pending on or arising after September 15, 2020.

Second, H.B. 81 reduces the statute of limitations for applications for additional awards for violations of specific safety requirements (“VSSR”).  Now, the time limitation to file a VSSR application is reduced to one year after the date of the injury. Previously, the injured worker had two years from the date of injury to file a VSSR application.  The reduced one-year limitation brings it is line with the new one-year statute of limitations for filing a work-related injury. The one-year limitation will apply to all claims pending on and arising after September 15, 2020.

Third, H.B. 81 changes the length of time in which a claim remains open.  Under continuing jurisdiction, the Industrial Commission can invoke jurisdiction after five years from the last medical services being rendered or the date of the last payment of compensation.  Under the prior law, the Industrial Commission could invoke jurisdiction from the date of payment of the medical services.  Hence, the five years will begin to run when the medical services are rendered as compared to when they are paid for, effectively shortening the lifespan of the claim.  

Finally, any settlement application will be processed without the state-funded employer’s consent if (1) the claim is no longer in the employer’s experience and (2) the injured worker is no longer employed with the employer of record.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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