Types of Work Injuries

Injuries Covered Under Workers Compensation Ohio 

Strains, sprains, and tears are the most common type of workplace injuries. They account for almost four out of every ten employment-related occurrences that cause employees to miss days on the job.

Lifting, carrying, and lowering heavy items are the chief culprits, and the back and shoulders are their most common casualties.

However, many people are surprised to discover the wide variety of other work-related injuries and illnesses that are also eligible for compensation under policies set by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC). 

There are dozens of distinct harms that can befall Ohio employees that are generally eligible for benefits. A small sampling includes:

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – often related to data entry and typing, assembling, and other repetitive uses of the fingers, hands, and wrists.
  • Burns – from food preparation, exposure to machinery, welding, and scalding liquids, including coffee, soups and other drinks.
  • Falls – on slippery floors, icy walkways, uneven surfaces, or from ladders and scaffolding.
  • Puncture Wounds – from manufacturing equipment, construction tools, protruding storage items, and high-velocity office staplers and binders.
  • Hearing Loss – common in manufacturing settings, repair shops, airport runways and baggage processing areas, and music and entertainment venues.
  • Lung and Brain Injuries – from exposure to chemicals, mold, smoke, and second-hand smoke such as is often found in restaurants and bars.
  • Bites – from bees, dogs, spiders, and other insects and animals that workers encounter in the course of performing their duties. These can result in lost work days and persistent medical problems.

Nor do all job injuries have to be visible or physical. BWC evaluators often approve claims of work-related anxiety, depression, and other psychological issues, even when work-related activities only exacerbate preexisting conditions.  Among the most stress-inducing jobs in Ohio are firefighter, airline pilot, police officer, teacher, psychologist, health care worker, and event coordinator. But any job that results in mental health issues or aggravates existing conditions may be eligible under BWC workers’ compensation guidelines.

Injuries that arise anywhere on company property, including the cafeteria, exercise room, restroom, and parking lot, typically qualify the employee to receive paid medical treatments, reimbursement for lost wages, and other possible claims-related benefits.

But workers do not have to be at their place of employment when an injury happens to qualify. The key determinant is whether an employee is hurt or becomes ill as a result of job-related actions or exposures.

If an employee is afflicted at a company party, professional conference, on a client/customer call, or at a business lunch, so long as the employee was present as part of his or her job responsibilities, the injury will most often be eligible for workers’ compensation. Even accidents that occur while driving to or from a required company activity – but not regular commuting to and from the workplace – may be covered.

While individual cases will vary, even injuries that arise at work when an employee fails to follow established safety protocols – or is engaged in non-work related pranks or other hijinks – may be eligible for workers’ compensation.

Independent contractors, domestic workers, undocumented workers, and some seasonal and agricultural workers are typically not eligible for BWC benefits.

The list of injuries and circumstances that do not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits generally includes those claims that arise from activities that have nothing to do with work or result during the commission of a crime. When alcohol or narcotics are involved, the eligibility determination is often murky.  

The specific rules and applications pertaining to which work-related injuries are covered – and under what circumstances – are complex.  Many employees find their rights are best protected when they consult a workers’ compensation attorney soon after they are hurt or become ill to review the circumstances that led to their health problem and to determine their eligibility for benefits. That is especially true when a benefits claim includes elements that don’t conform to the most common injuries and related causes. 

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    Employment law covers hiring, firing, workplace policies, and benefits. Recognizing this makes plain how a Cleveland employment lawyer could help an employee or an employer in any given negotiation or lawsuit. An employment lawyer’s knowledge of federal and state laws and practices regarding discrimination, rights, and contracting often proves invaluable when issues between workers and management arise.

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  • Injuries Not Covered Under Workers’ Compensation

    Workers’ compensation exists to help individual who get injured or fall ill on the job. Therefore, only someone hurt or sickened at work or while engaged in activities directly related to fulfilling the duties of their job can claim workers’ comp benefits. The health problem must be significantly disabling, meaning the person has to stop working or accept a lower-paying position for several months. Also, the problem can affect any part of the person’s body or physical functioning. Losing a finger, going deaf or blind, having a heart attack, and developing a permanent lung disease are all examples of injuries and illnesses eligible for workers’ comp.


    Location Matters

    Distinguishing what counts as a work-related activity sometimes requires going to court. Clarifying the issue somewhat, general rules that have developed over time that indicate that driving a company vehicle during business hours qualifies, but taking your own car to the office in the morning before the start of the business day does not. Similarly, falling while putting on a safety suit in the factory locker room could be what lawyers call compensable, but tripping while dressing for work at home would not be. Parking lot injuries are whole separate category of worker’s comp case law.

    Questions about whether an offsite or near-site incident could make you eligible for applying to receive payments from the Ohio workers’ compensation program are best referred to a Cleveland workers’ comp attorney before going through the lengthy process of applying for benefits.


    Cause Matters

    The state-run program to cover injured and ill workers’ medical bills and temporary disability expenses does have a list of circumstances that automatically disqualify applications. It looks like this:

    • Self-inflicted injuries
    • Injuries suffered with under the influence of alcohol or drugs
    • Injuries suffered while engaging in clearly illegal activities, including trespassing or violating environmental laws
    • Injuries suffered while fighting with co-workers
    • Injuries suffered while purposely ignoring safety rules, which includes engaging in horseplay
    • Worsening of a preexisting disease even when workplace exposures cause flare-ups that make doing one’s job impossible
    • Strictly mental difficulties such as stress

    This list of workers’ compensation exclusions leave space for interpretation, especially since employers may attempt to convince the program administrators who investigate workers’ comp applications that a hurt or sick worker caused their own health problems. A skilled and caring workers’ comp lawyer in Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio, can help a client gather and present evidence to counter such claims.


    Options Exist When Workers’ Comp Doesn’t

    Speaking with an Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman personal injury attorney could help you explore options other than workers’ compensation. While filing and succeeding with civil lawsuits against one’s employer has become increasingly difficult in Ohio, evidence of reckless indifference to employees’ health and safety remains actionable. Another possibility could be pursuing a defective or dangerous product claim against the manufacturer of a tool or device that inflicted an injury. That tactic can succeed when a machine malfunctions, a hand tool breaks, or a walkway railing or ladder collapses.

    To discuss workers’ comp and related issues at no cost, call Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman at (800) 678-3318 or schedule an appointment online.

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