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Welcome to the Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg, Co. blog!  We look forward to sharing our knowledge with you in our upcoming posts. We are an state wide law practice with officesin Cleveland, OH, Ashtabula, Ohio and Columbus, Ohio.   We have a staff of more than 25 paralegals and legal assistants and 12 full time attorneys who focus on the following legal concerns:

We believe that an informed client is an empowered client, so on this blog we will bring you the latest information on popular topics. These will include personal injury, workers’ comp, car accidents, medical malpractice, insurance coverage, mass tort/class actions, nursing home neglect and abuse, and other trending topics.

If there's one state where you don't want to engage in workers compensation fraud, it's Ohio. The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, or BWC, aggressively pursues individuals who engage in this type of fraud. Through its special investigations unit, or SID, the BWC is tasked with deterring, detecting, investigating and prosecuting cases of workers compensation fraud. If you find yourself the focus of such an investigation, it is critical to line up competent legal counsel right away. Without doing so, you will be facing formidable battle completely on your own.

Handle workers compensation cases with care

With the wealth of paperwork and documentation required to file a successful workers comp claim, law-abiding individuals run afoul of the system in many different ways. All too often, people are simply misinformed or uninformed about what is acceptable and what isn't. To ensure that you don't overstep the boundaries of Ohio's workers compensation system, you should retain an experienced attorney to assist you with your case. This is the best way to reduce the risk of becoming the focus of a BWC investigation, which could cause serious problems for you — everyday people are frequently convicted of workers compensation fraud in Ohio.

Arm yourself with the right information

It's easy to become confused and to make serious mistakes. The right lawyer will make sure all of the paperwork is filled out properly and that the information that you provide is factual and relevant. A wealth of information about workers compensation claims in Ohio is available at the Ohio BWC website. Before filing for workers compensation, educate yourself about how the process works. Keep in mind that working while collecting benefits and filing false claims can result in serious penalties. At the same time, it's crucial to protect your rights, and the right attorney can help.

An on-the-job injury due to a car accident often goes beyond the standard, but already complex workers comp process. You have to demonstrate that using the motor vehicle of your accident is squarely within the realm of conducting business for your employer before you can establish that your injury is work-related.

Tough legal road to haul

Workers’ compensation is a collection of statutes based upon legislation that formulates administrative directives. To meet the workers’ comp statutory standard, you must be engaged in an activity that is consistent with your employer’s business in order for your car accident injury to be considered a workers’ compensation matter.  This means your car accident must be in "the course of and arising out of" your employment.

The courts look at these three factors in deciding whether your car accident injury qualifies for workers’ compensation:

Some car accident cases fall squarely within the statutory framework. For example, a highway construction worker in a company truck hauling water to a worksite. Less clear is an employee transporting office mail to the post office in a personal vehicle on the way to lunch.

Third-party claim

If you were injured in a work-related car accident that was caused by a driver in a separate vehicle, you may be able to file an Ohio personal injury lawsuit, pursuant to Ohio Revised Codes §2305.10 in addition to your workers’ compensation claim.

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation is a statutory sugrogee, which means that benefits paid by workers’ compensation are deducted from any damages award that results from your personal injury case.

The intent of Ohio’s no-fault workers compensation laws is to eliminate negligence lawsuits filed by injured workers against employers, and limit employer countersuits faulting employees for sustaining injuries, pursuant to Chapters 4121 and 4123 of Ohio Revised Code. This limitation of lawsuits typically means there is less red tape, delay, and battle to get injured workers the money they need to keep their lives on track while they seek treatment and are out of work.

Protecting injured workers

No-fault workers’ compensation isn’t the absence of fault but, rather, a compromise between employers and employees to get workers the medical and temporary total disability benefits they need and deserve. Even after cutting out the litigation and back-and-forth between plaintiff and defendant that come with most personal injury claims, dealing with the Ohio workers’ compensation system is still frustrating for injured workers. That’s where we come in — it’s our job to make sure the compensation and medical attention you are entitled to are forthcoming.

Ohio’s no-fault system additionally has an exclusive remedy element, meaning once workers decide to file for workers comp benefits, they give up any rights to sue employers for negligence.

An estimated 10% of worker injuries also result in a negligence claim against either a third party or the employer due to unique circumstances that caused a workplace hazard:

Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., LPA is fully staffed to handle every legal issue associated with your Ohio workers compensation case.

If you suffer an injury at work, you can file a workers compensation claim. By doing this, you may be able to obtain benefits that can help you pay for your medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages you while you are away from work.

But do you really need an attorney in order to obtain workers compensation?

The short answer is yes. In fact, workers comp cases are often complicated and without a lawyer, you may find yourself lost. A worker's comp lawyer in Ohio can:

Sustaining an injury at work can cause stress and frustration for you and your family. But working with a workers compensation lawyer to speed the workers compensation application and approval process helps relieve the stress — and gives you the chance to focus on healing.

Have you been injured at work? If so, you might not realize that as an employee, you may be able to a file a claim to obtain compensation. However, some workers compensation claims can be especially complicated. And sometimes employers — who do not want to pay the increased insurance premiums that often result when an employee collects workers compensation benefits — might dispute your claim.

It is always wise to consult with an experienced Ohio attorney prior to filing for workers compensation benefits. He or she can explain the following steps involved in filing for compensation:

In addition, if your injury was caused by a third party — such as the manufacturer of defective equipment — you might be able to pursue that party for fair compensation with the help of a skilled personal injury attorney.

Workers compensation benefits are available to workers who were injured during the course of their work. In exchange for receiving those benefits, workers are unable to sue their employers for their injuries. However, there is one exception to that rule — workers can sue if their injuries were caused by their employers intentional act.

The workers compensation statutes address this exception. O.R.C. 2745.01, which was passed in 2005, says that an employer can be found liable for its intentional act only when it is shown that it acted “with the intent to injure another or with the belief that the injury was substantially certain to occur.” The statute creates a presumption of intent to injure if the employer deliberate removes an “equipment safety guard.”

The case of Hewitt v. L.E. Myers Co. clarified this presumption. The plaintiff utility worker in that case was injured when he made contact with an energized line. There were protective gloves and sleeves available to the plaintiff, and the employer asserted they were required. However, the plaintiff asserted that a fellow worker had told him that he did not have to wear the gloves and sleeves because the line was de-energized.

The Ohio Supreme Court concluded that there is a difference between an equipment safety guard, such as guard on a saw or other machine, and personal protective items that the employee controls. The court concluded that removal of an equipment safety guard could not be extended to cover an employers failure to make sure that its employee was using required personal protective items.

You’ve just been injured at work. Now what? Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to obtain worker’s compensation. However, unless you are a lawyer or have a legal background, you may be unsure of what to do or where to turn. What are the steps to filing for workers comp? Do you know how to file a claim? What if your employer disputes your claim?

A skilled workers comp attorney can assist you with all of these issues as well as those listed below:

If you suffer an injury at work, your workers compensation benefits should cover all or most of your medical expenses and lost wages. Yet not all injuries are covered by workers comp. Specifically, psychiatric conditions are not covered by worker’s compensation in Ohio — except when they are caused by an occupational hazard or disease. In addition, worker’s compensation will not cover you if you are injured at a work-sponsored softball game or other recreational activity that you voluntarily attended and signed a waiver for. You may not receive workers comp benefits if your injury arose from intoxication, fighting or intentional self-injury.

Those who do qualify for workers comp benefits are often the victims of similar types of injuries. The list below contains examples of typical workers compensation injuries:

Getting injured on the job can be stressful. You may be worried about missing work, getting paid and taking care of your family. Fortunately, there’s a good chance your work-related injury can be covered by Ohio’s workers compensation program. Yet if you have never been injured before, you may be unfamiliar with the process of getting reimbursement.

Listed below are the steps to filing for workers comp in Ohio:

Navigating through laws and paperwork needed for you to obtain workers compensation can sometimes be tricky. If you need reliable guidance filing a claim, do not hesitate in seeking competent counsel.

The Industrial Commission hearing process is fairly simple. Whenever there is an issue in dispute in a Workers' Compensation claim that issue will be addressed at a hearing before an Industrial Commission hearing officer. The disputed issue whether it be the allowance of the claim, or any other issue within the claim, will first be addressed by a District Hearing Officer(DHO). At that hearing, both sides can present evidence in support of their position on the disputed issue. The testimony of the injured worker and any other witnesses will be given and medical evidence will be presented. After all the evidence has been discussed, the DHO will make a decision and issue a written order of that decision. The decision will be mailed and the parties to the claim will receive that decision in approximately 7 days after the hearing.

Once the DHO order is received any party that disagrees with any part of the order can file an appeal of the DHO order within 14 days from receipt of the order. The appeal will be heard by an Industrial Commission Staff Hearing Officer(SHO). The hearing before the SHO is similar to the hearing that was held before the DHO. The testimony of all witnesses will given at the hearing and all parties can present evidence at the SHO hearing, just like at the DHO hearing. After all the evidence has been presented, the SHO will make a decision and issue a written order. The order will be mailed to all the parties and should be received by all the parties within 7 days from the date of the hearing.

Once the SHO order is received any party may file an appeal of the SHO order to the Industrial Commission of Ohio within 14 days of receipt of the SHO order. This appeal may or may not be heard before the Industrial Commission as the Industrial Commission has discretion as to which appeals will be heard. A great majority of the appeals filed with the Industrial Commission of Ohio are refused.

A work injury can affect every aspect of your life. Following these tips may give your claim a greater chance of being accepted, which means quicker treatment approval and quicker healing. When you are injured at work, your first action is to report the injury to someone. The best method is a written record but if that is not possible a verbal report should be given to the employer. Delays in reporting can cause a claim to be denied. Following the report, medical attention is essential. If you are injured you need to be seen by a doctor. The BWC/IC will only consider a medical diagnosis, by a doctor, not a nurse practitioner.

Once at the doctor, report a description of the injury. Injuries that just happen ARE NOT COMPENSABLE. For an injury to be a compensable WC claim, the injury must have been accidental and must have arisen out of or in the course of one's employment. It is not enough that an injury occurred while at work so be specific when reporting your injury to your doctor. Also it is important that the doctor know how you were injured so they can give a reliable opinion as to the allowed conditions and their relation to the work place accident. The doctors will then complete and submit to the BWC a First Report of Injury Form, and a claim number will be assigned to the injury. It is also recommended that the injured worker complete a First Report of Injury (FROI) form which is found at the BWC web site and submit it to the BWC. This will further support "reporting" an injury and will start the BWC processing for claim allowance. Most of the time, this FROI form is supplied by the medical provider.

Following your medical treatment, consider consulting an attorney. Workers’ Compensation has many time limits and forms that must be complied with to receive benefits. Similarly there are several other entities that are involved with the claim who will challenge all or part of the claim or treatment. Simply put, even if the employer agrees with the claim allowance, the other entities may appeal treatment or payment requests. You will need someone on your side to help you with your claim. Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., LPA has a team of well trained, well experienced attorneys and paralegals who will review your claim and fight for your benefits and treatment. NRS is aggressive in their representation, and will ensure that you receive all the benefits that are appropriate in your claim.

Most issues in a workers' compensation claim are decided at the Industrial Commission of Ohio in front of a single hearing officer.  These hearings are informal and brief.  However, many issues in a workers' compensation case can be appealed into the County Courts of Common Pleas and be set for trial in front of a jury.

Whenever a condition is at issue administratively (and administrative appeals have been exhausted), it can be appealed to court.  Then, instead of a hearing officer making the decision on whether to allow or disallow a condition, a jury makes the decision.  The jury answers a yes or no question regarding the right to participate in the workers' compensation system for that condition.

The court litigation process starts by the filing of a Notice of Appeal and Petition/Complaint on Appeal.   Sometimes, a person’s condition is granted administratively and their employer files it into court by filing the Notice of Appeal.  Regardless of who starts the court process, the claimant has to prove their case all over again.  After the court case starts, the discovery process begins.  The discovery process typically entails the answering of written questions known as “interrogatories” and providing documents in a “request for production of documents”.  After written discovery is complete, depositions typically take place.  A deposition is when a person is sworn under oath and answers questions while a court reporter is typing everything down.

After discovery, the parties typically explore settlement.  The majority of workers’ compensation cases in court settle prior to ever going to Trial.  Most courts require parties to pursue settlement.  In the event the case does not settle, then other options may be reviewed.  The other options include going to trial or delaying the case for one year.   It is not always economically feasible to appeal every issue into the Courts of Common Pleas, but the lawyers at Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg aggressively pursue this right for their clients - something that cannot be said of MANY local workers' compensation attorneys.

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a progressively painful hand and arm condition caused by a pinched nerve in the wrist. The pressure may come from swelling or anything that makes the carpal tunnel smaller.  The carpal tunnel is a passage between the arm and hand through which the median nerve is allowed to pass freely in a normal healthy wrist.   CTS can be caused by congenital factors (e.g., hypothyroidism, rheumetorid arthritis, and diabetes, pregnancy, obesity) or by making the same hand movements over and over, especially if the wrist is bent down (your hands lower than your wrists).  Repetitive hand movements are often involved in assembly and manufacturing jobs as well as secretarial positions and musicians.  When CTS is caused by repetitive workplace use it may be referred to as an occupational disease.  The dominant hand is most commonly becomes affected first and produces the most severe pain. Carpal tunnel syndrome usually occurs only in adults. In addition, women are three times more likely than men to develop carpal tunnel syndrome, perhaps because the carpal tunnel itself may be smaller in women than in men.

Symptoms usually start gradually, with frequent burning, tingling, or itching numbness in the palm of the hand and the fingers, especially the thumb and the index and middle fingers. The symptoms often first appear in one or both hands at nighttime, since many people sleep with flexed wrists. A person with carpal tunnel syndrome may wake up feeling the need to "shake out" the hand or wrist. As symptoms progressively worsen, people might feel tingling during the day, as well. Decreased grip strength may make it difficult to form a fist, grasp small objects, or perform other manual tasks. In chronic and/or untreated cases, the muscles at the base of the thumb may waste away. Some people may become unable to tell between hot and cold by touch.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is diagnosed by the history of symptoms, physical exam, x-ray, electromyogram or a nerve conduction study. Some people with mild symptoms can ease their discomfort by taking frequent breaks to rest their hands and by applying cold packs to reduce occasional swelling. If these techniques fail to offer relief within a few weeks, additional treatment options include wrist splinting, medications and surgery. Fortunately, for the majority of people who develop carpal tunnel syndrome, proper treatment usually can relieve the pain and numbness and restore normal use of their wrists and hands.  Sometimes surgery is necessary to open the carpal tunnel to allow for the movement of the nerve.

If you develop carpal tunnel syndrome related to repetitive use in the work place, an experienced workers' compensation attorney may be necessary.  Of course, it is important to report the repetitive use in the work place to your physician as early as possible when symptoms start to develop.   Learn more here.

Low back pain, sciatica, sprain strain lumbar spine

Sciatica, also known as lumbar radiculopathy, is a symptom of a problem with the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the body and the primary nerve of the leg. The sciatic nerve controls muscles in the back of the knee and lower leg and provides feeling to the back of the thigh, part of the lower leg, and the sole of the foot. Sciatica usually affects only one side of the lower body. Sciatica can occur suddenly or it can develop gradually. It may start in the lower back and extend down the leg to the calf, foot, or even toes. Sciatica consists of pain, weakness, tingling or numbness, which might feel like a bad cramp, or it can be excruciating, shooting pain that makes standing or sitting nearly impossible. The pain might be worse when sitting, sneezing, or coughing. For some people, the pain from sciatica can be severe and debilitating, while for others it may be infrequent and irritating, but has the potential to get worse.

Diagnostic procedures for sciatica may include a complete medical history and physical examination, x-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and electromyography/nerve conduction study (EMG/NCS). The symptoms of sciatica may resemble other conditions or medical problems, so one should always consult a physician for a diagnosis.

[depiction of low back pain, burning, numbness, tingling, radiating pain, sciatica caused by low back injury]

While there are many causes of sciatica, it is most commonly caused by a herniated disk in the spine that presses on the sciatic nerve. Other causes include: a ruptured intervertebral disk, lumbar spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back), an injury such as a pelvic fracture, degenerative disc disease (breakdown of discs, which act as cushions between the vertebrae), spondylolisthesis (a condition in which one vertebra slips forward over another one), irritation of the root(s) of the lower lumbar and lumbosacral spine, and pregnancy.

Sometimes sciatica goes away on its own with time and rest. Treatment, if needed, depends on the cause of the problem and it may include exercises, medicines, and surgery to relieve pressure on the nerve. The goal of treatment is to decrease pain and increase mobility. In determining the specific treatment, a physician takes the following factors into consideration: age, overall health and medical history, extent of the disease, tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies, expectations and patient opinion and preferences.

If you develop sciatica in the work place, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney may be necessary.

If you develop low back radiating pain (aka sciatica) from a motor vehicle accident in Ohio, consult for free with an attorney at NRS Injury Law.

Sitting at your desk for hours on end can take its toll on your body. In the short term, improper desk posture can cause muscle soreness, joint pain and headaches. Over time, this discomfort can develop into serious, chronic medical conditions of your neck, back, shoulder, wrists or hands. But pain and disability are surprisingly easy to prevent by applying ergonomics.

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) describes the role of an ergonomist as assessing “the physical relationship between the worker and the work environment” and formulating solutions to minimize stress on the body in the workplace environment. The Ohio BWC provides useful ergonomic tools and resources for improving the safety of your office workstation, including:

Even after taking all of these precautions, you may still suffer from the repetitive stress injuries commonly associated with frequent computer use. A Cleveland workers’ compensation lawyer can help you recover benefits for this type of serious workplace injury.

The Supreme Court of Ohio’s decision in Armstrong v. John R. Jurgensen Co. restricts workers’ rights to receive workers’ compensation for serious mental conditions resulting directly from their jobs. Under the ruling, a worker is entitled to compensation if the mental illness was caused by a physical workplace injury or occupational disease, such as a stress-related heart attack or depression triggered by brain damage. However, psychiatric conditions that arise from a workplace incident or stress are not covered.

Armstrong v. John R. Jurgensen Co. was decided in June 2013 and involved a 2009 work-related traffic accident. Shaun Armstrong was driving a dump truck for the John Jurgensen Company. While he was stopped, another motorist slammed into the back of his truck at a high speed. Armstrong was treated for his physical injuries and released from the hospital, but suffered distress when he learned that the other man died.

Armstrong filed a claim for cervical strain, thoracic strain and lumbar strain, and subsequently for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a psychological condition manifesting in a heightened, dangerous level of flight-or-fight response triggered by a traumatic event.

Initially, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) allowed Armstrong’s additional PTSD claim, a decision that was appealed by his employer. Eventually, the case made it to the Supreme Court of Ohio. The court ruled that “Armstrong’s physical injuries did not cause his PTSD and that Armstrong’s PTSD is, therefore, not a compensable injury.”

Proving the relationship between a physical injury and mental condition is, therefore, a crucial component of workers’ compensation recovery in Ohio for a psychological condition.

Are you getting sick of work — literally? Your job site may be less than ideal, but it shouldn’t make you physically ill. Unfortunately, the reality is that your workplace may subject you to regular contact with hazardous conditions that can cause serious chronic illnesses. Employment-related medical problems are called occupational diseases and are often covered by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation System.

You may have an occupational disease if your medical issues resulted from exposure in your workplace to:

Of course, you may have been exposed to any number of hazardous conditions and still not be eligible for benefits. To qualify, be prepared to show that:

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation lists a schedule of compensable occupational diseases that includes:

In addition to the many other diseases on this list, you may also receive benefits for a number of other nonscheduled diseases.

If you think there are a lot of hoops to jump through to recover your rightful compensation for an occupational illness, you are correct. You may be unaware you are being exposed to a hazard until the damage is done. In many cases, the disease may be progressive, i.e., not exhibiting symptoms until long after the exposure has ended.

Speaking to an Ohio workers’ compensation law firm is a good start to putting an end to your exposure and getting compensation for your disease.

Back injuries are the most common injuries caused by automobile accidents and workplace trauma.  Unexpected impact from an collision, lifting, twisting, fatigue, falls and trauma are the most common causes of back injuries which account for 75% of all workers' compensation and auto accident claims.

Back injuries can be minor (mild sprains or strains) to severe and disabling (disc herniations and other disorders of the spinal column).  The more severe back injuries often become chronic and disabling for workers', flaring up with or without new trauma.  Disc herniations can be treated in a number of ways from conservative (rest and medication) to more aggressive (injections and/or surgery).  It is important to understand the signs and symptoms of disc herniations to help your doctor arrive at a diagnosis as early as possible.   Early diagnosis often leads to better results from treatment.

The back is divided into three levels. The top or the cervical level (from the base of the skull through the neck). The mid or the thoracic level (below the neck down between the shoulder blades to just above the waist), and the low or lumbar level (from the waist down to the sacrum). Significant back injuries can result in herniated discs in any of these levels. By definition a herniated disc is a rupture of the nucleus propulsus which causes irritation of the spinal nerves and applies pressure to the spinal cord.  Depending upon where a herniation occurs, the patient may experience symptoms in other parts of their bodies (i.e., referred pain).   For example, a neck injury may cause numbness, tingling, burning, or pain in the arms, hands or fingers while a low back disc herniation is likely to cause pain & symptoms through buttocks into the legs and down into the patients feet and toes.

If you suffer from any of these symptoms following a neck or back injury, it is important to report this to your doctor.  If symptoms persist your doctor should order an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or other testing to determine if a disc herniation is present. Be sure to consistently report all symptoms to your doctor from the first visit to help the doctor arrive at a diagnosis and to help your attorney prove the relationship between your auto accident or workplace trauma and the medical condition.

If you suffered an injury in a job-related accident in Ohio, you are entitled to file a claim for benefits through the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (OhioBWC) or through your employer’s self-insurance program. In addition to medical expenses, you may be eligible for other benefits, including temporary total disability (TTD), permanent partial disability (PPD), permanent total disability (PTD) or wage loss (WL) compensation.

If you qualify for monetary benefits, you receive compensation funds on a biweekly basis. However, compensation generally covers only about two-thirds of your wages. Under Ohio law, you have the option to receive a lump sum settlement — meaning that instead of receiving a check every few weeks, you would get the entire amount of compensation at one time. And oh, how enticing that can seem.

Before jumping at that one bigger check, though, think about these issues:

So, is there ever a time that a lump sum makes sense? There may be. But it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced Cleveland workers’ compensation attorney before you sign on the dotted line.

The legal definition of injury is complicated. The Ohio Revised Code defines what injuries are covered under Workers’ compensation. The statutory definition of injury includes any injury, whether caused by external accidental means or accidental in character and result, received in the course of and arising out of, the injured employee’s employment. It is a broad definition and to be construed in a light more favorable to injured workers. These definitional requirements exist due to three concerns. 1) The need to distinguish between injury and disease 2) To eliminate events that just happen-coincidence-for an injury to be compensable it must be caused by the work, 3) And the need for a direct relationship between employment and the injury.

Injuries can consist of an event or a gradually developing injury...a village injury. Medical is needed to establish that an injury occurred.

Injuries must occur to employees. However wages do not have to be received to be an employee.

There are exceptions to a finding of injury. These include events that just happen — idiopathic injuries, and recreational programs. Also a determination will be made on the arising out of employment. When making this determination the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will look at the hazards of employment, whether the employee was on a personal mission, whether the employee was a fixed situs employee, and whether the event occurred during horseplay.

Psychiatric conditions without physical injuries are NOT covered under workers’ compensation.

If you think you have sustained an injury and need an Ohio comp lawyer,  please call the attorneys at NRS to discuss the facts of the injury. Workers’ compensation is very fact specific so it is important to review all the facts when deciding if an injury occurred.

In the world of Workers' Compensation an injury is an incident or event that causes harm to an individual in the scope of someone's work activities. For instance, someone at work lifts a box and sustains an injury to his back. There is an incident, the lifting of the box, and there is an injury or harm to the person's back. There can also be an injury that occurs over time. For example, if someone's job is to lift many boxes every day and, over a period of days, this person develops back pain, this can be considered an injury. It's important to know that to have an allowable injury in a Workers' Compensation claim there must be a diagnosis from a physician.

A claim cannot be allowed for pain. The Industrial Commission considers pain a symptom of an injury but not an allowable injury. It is also important to realize that a Workers' Compensation claim cannot be allowed for a degenerative process. In general, degenerative substantial aggravation of a degenerative condition can be allowed in a claim if it can be shown that an injury caused a substantial aggravation of an underlying degenerative process. There are also instances where post traumatic arthritis can be allowed in a claim if it can be shown that the trauma or the injury caused the arthritis to set in. It is very important to have clear medical evidence from the doctor that documents the injury.

An occupational disease usually is caused by some harmful exposure. This exposure can be in many forms. For instance, a person that is exposed to certain chemicals at his place of employment may develop a chemical bronchitis. A firefighter who is exposed to smoke may develop a lung disease or heart disease. A person who performs repetitive activities, such as working constantly on a computer keyboard, and is exposed to excessive use of his hands may develop the occupational disease of carpal tunnel syndrome. Again, as in injury claims there needs to a definitive diagnosis by a physician and a clear causal relation statement that links the exposure to the diagnosis

If an injury occurs on the job or if there is a harmful exposure the most important things to do are report it to the employer right away, seek immediate medical treatment. Are you looking for an Ohio comp lawyer who will work for you? Contact the law firm of Nager, Romaine, & Schneiberg Co.,L.P.A.

The dog days of summer are over but the high temperatures can continue through September and October. With this in mind workers should know that heat and heat related illness can be compensable through the Bureau of Workers Compensation.

These high temperature days can best be overcome with a little planning.  First dress accordingly.  Light weight, and loose fitting clothes are good choices for the day.  For people working outdoors a hat or sun visor can help too.  Pack and drink water often.  Frequent water breaks are important to keep the body functioning properly.  At least one bottle of Gatorade should be on hand in case of severe heat symptoms.  Breaks should be taken in the shade or if available in air conditioned environments.

If you do start to feel dizzy, light headed or just sick, get to a safe spot (in the shade or in an air conditioned place) and sit down.  Start sipping Gatorade.  If water is available, wet a scarf or paper towel and place on the forehead/back of the neck to cool the body.  If you do not start feeling better or if you lose consciousness seek medical attention.

If you believe you have a heat related illness, please contact the Ohio workers comp attorneys at NRS by filling out our contact form or call (855)GOT-HURT to discuss the facts.

A worker in Ohio who sustains a complicated long term work related injury or contracts a long term work related illness can be covered in a workers' compensation claim. These types of claims are more difficult for the BWC to administer as the BWC system seems to be better at handling minor injuries rather than major injuries and illnesses. However, long term medical care is available if it is requested properly and if the sufficient medical evidence is provided to the BWC.

Injured workers can receive wheelchairs, hospital beds, prosthetics, medications, long term rehabilitation services and long term physical therapy. In addition, home modifications and vehicle modifications can be approved to help accommodate the injured worker. The BWC does have frequent medication reviews done by physicians when someone has been on certain medications for an extensive period of time, so the prescribing physician will have to provide medical evidence to support the need for the continuing medication.

There is a process that needs to be followed to obtain medical services. A request must be made by the treating physician. That request will be reviewed by a managed care organization or a self insured employer. If the request is approved by the MCO or self insured employer the services can be rendered. If the request is denied a hearing will be held before the Industrial Commission of Ohio and a hearing officer will decide if the medical services should be authorized.

Long term care is available to injured workers in Ohio but you need to know how to request it and how to support that request. It is important to have someone who knows the system help you and represent you to get the care that you need.

The Ohio workers comp lawyers of Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., L.P.A are here to advocate on your behal. Contact us today by filling out our contact form or call 216-289-4740 or toll free (855)GOT-HURT.

Social media is everywhere these days. From Facebook to YouTube to Twitter to Instagram, there are more ways than ever to communicate with the world. What individuals who suffer work-related injuries often fail to realize until it’s too late is that what they post on these websites have extremely negative impacts on their workers’ compensation case.

Employers have learned that an injured worker’s social media accounts can be treasure troves of information that can be used to harm the injured worker’s workers’ compensation claim. Employers have used pictures of an injured worker smiling or appearing to have fun to show that can't be injured to the extent they claim. Another common employer tactic is to search for and use an injured worker’s Facebook comments or Twitter posts to demonstrate an exaggerated or false injury. Finally, Employers have used an injured worker’s pictures or videos performing activities that the worker has stated that they could no longer perform due to a work-related injury to undermine and destroy the worker’s workers’ compensation claim.

 

So what is the solution? In an ideal world, injured workers would not post anything on social media at all. This ensures that their workers’ compensation claim cannot be harmed in anyway. However, if you have to use social media, these tips can end up making a difference in your workers’ compensation claim.

First, always make sure you are aware of who can access your social media accounts. If you don’t, employers or anyone else can monitor the accounts and wait for something that can be used to harm your workers’ compensation claim. Second, don’t accept friend or follower requests from strangers. Employers have been known to make these requests in hopes to discover damaging information. Finally, post as little as possible about your workers’ compensation claim. Do not post descriptions, pictures, or videos of your injuries or any case specific information.

The truth about social media as it relates to workers’ compensation claims is that it can do nothing but harm your claim. If you have any questions about social media’s impact on workers’ compensation claims, please contact the Ohio workers comp attorneys at NRS Injury Law by using our contact form, or call toll free at (855)GOT-HURT to discuss the facts .

Generally speaking there is a one year time limit (2017 HB 27)  in which to file a workers' compensation claim. The claim must be filed within one year from the date of the injury. For example, if someone is at work and lifts a box and injures his or her back on October 31, 2014, that person has until October 31, 2015 to file the claim with the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation. There are instances when that time limit can be extended depending on whether a self insured employer had knowledge of an injury and paid benefits to the injured worker when the injury occurred. Those situations can get complicated and need to be discussed with an attorney to see if a claim filed after one year can be deemed timely filed based on the actions of the self insured employer at the time of the injury.

In addition to injuries a worker can contract an occupational disease in the course of his or her employment, like carpal tunnel syndrome, which typically occurs over time. In those situations where an occupational disease occurs, the time limits to file a claim are a little different. In an occupational disease claim the two year time limit begins to run when the occupational disease is diagnosed as being work related, or when the occupational disease causes disability from work whichever is later. For example, if someone has been at a job for two years and begins to experience numbness and tingling in his or her hands, and goes to a doctor a year later and is diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, and the doctor at that time relates it to the work activities, that person has two years from the date the condition is diagnosed as being work related to file the claim. So although the symptoms of the carpal tunnel syndrome began three years ago, the claim will be timely filed if it is filed within two years from the work related diagnosis. A diagnosis of the occupational disease is not enough to start the time limit it must be diagnosed as being work related.

The time limits to file a workers' compensation claim can be tricky so it is important that you contact an attorney who is experienced in workers' compensation law if you have any questions. The Ohio workers comp attorneys at Nager, Romaine, & Schneiberg Co., L.P.A (NR&S) can answer any questions you may have. Call (855)GOT-HURT or fill our our contact form and we will be in touch.

Lack of or inadequate guards on machines have the potential to cause serious work injuries.  OSHA reports that missing or inadequate guards account for a majority of their citations. Machine guards can be quite sophisticated. Companies are now making automated barrier doors, retractable curtains and screens, safety fencing and automated curtains. In addition there are safeguarding products for fabricating machines and safeguarding products for cutting and turning machines available.

Guards are placed on machines for a reason-worker safety.  As we know, sometimes employers can manipulate a machine to work more quickly or in a different capacity than it was made to do. If a guard is missing or damaged a worker can contact OSHA by calling 1-800-321-6742 for an investigation.

If a worker is injured by a machine where a guard is damaged or missing, a workers compensation claim should be filed. In addition a violation of a specific safety violation can be filed. This application, if awarded, results in additional compensation to the injured worker.

Worker safety should be the highest priority. Having proper guards that are well maintained is essential to protect workers. Employers are also encouraged to contact OSHA for free suggestions.

If you have been injured at work on a machine, please contact the Ohio workers comp attorneys at NRS Injury Law (855)GOT-HURT to speak with our staff or fill out our contact form.

I have a lot of people ask me, if I was injured on the job, should I report it? The short answer is yes. To protect yourself when you are injured on the job, it needs to be documented immediately. Whether or not immediate medical attention is required, tell your supervisor.  If your supervisor is not there, send an email, leave a voice mail, or report to another supervisor there. Further, some employers have written policies that require the immediate reporting of any injury.

A lot of people who are injured on the job do not seek immediate medical attention. For example, someone hurts their back on the job and they think if I rest it for the weekend then I will be better and I don’t need medical treatment. This is a fact of human nature. But there is no reason for you not to document the injury.

Some of the most common reasons a workers’ compensation claim is denied is for lack of reporting and/or lack of immediate medical attention. It is extremely difficult to overcome when both those reasons exist.

Some employers will try to find a way to get rid of you for having an injury on the job. This is not legal but it does not stop some employers. There is an Ohio law that states employers shall not discriminate against employees for having injuries on the job.

In the event you are hurt at work, or terminated after reporting a workers' compensation injury, you need to seek immediate legal advice. Contact the Ohio workers comp lawyers at NRS Injury Law by filling out our form, or call (855)GOT-HURT and speak with one of our trained staff members.

In some cases, the hard fought efforts at negotiating a favorable workers’ compensation settlement is only the beginning of the battle.  Having negotiated a good settlement, the last thing a workers’ compensation practitioner wants is an angry client, frustrated that his or her workers’ compensation settlement results in a substantial reduction in his or her client’s Social Security Insurance disability benefits (DIB).  If a client is receiving DIB,  or maybe eligible in future for this benefit, thoughtful efforts must be put into drafting an agreement to ensure the injured worker’s  DIB potential offset is minimized or eliminated.

42 U.S.C §424a, provides for an offset of DIB when the claimant is also receiving state workers’ compensation benefits.  In Richardson v. Belcher, 404 U.S. 78, 84 (1971), the Supreme Court noted that the offset "reduce[s] the duplication inherent in the programs and at the same time allow[s] a supplement to workmens' compensation where the state payments [are] inadequate."

In Ohio, when the combined workers’ compensation benefit and DIB exceed eighty percent of the injured workers’ average current earnings (ACE), SSA will take a dollar for dollar offset to the extent that the combined benefit exceeds that eighty percent. This can have the effect of reducing the DIB to zero. 42 U.S.C. §424a(a). ACE is calculated by SSA using the injured worker’s pre-injury earnings record. The offset provision will continue until such time as the workers’ compensation benefit is discontinued or until the claimant reaches age 65. 20 C.F.R. §408.408(a).

Individuals subject to a reduction of DIB because of the receipt of a workers’ compensation benefits can reduce or eliminate a DIB offset by negotiating a settlement of the workers’ compensation claim. By amortizing the settlement proceeds over the injured workers’ life expectancy, the rate of compensation maybe significantly reduced. In some cases, it can reduce the combined workers’ compensation and DIB benefit below the eighty percent of ACE.

SSA has the authority to determine the appropriate method of prorating a lump sum award. 42 U.S.C. § 424a(b) .  SSA utilizes a procedure outlined in its Program Operation Manual System (POMS). POMS DI 52001.555C.4 sets forth a priority for prorating the lump sum award, and first priority is given to the rate detailed in the terms of the settlement agreement. If the lump sum award specifies a rate based on life expectancy, that rate is used to prorate the lump sum. Rodlin v. Secretary of HHS, 750 E Supp. 146, 149 at 151 (D.N.J. 1990), illustrates an excellent example of how a practitioner’s failure to amortize the settlement in the terms of the agreement can have real and meaningful consequences. In Rodlin, the injured worker was receiving temporary total disability (TT) at the rate of $269 per week and later the injured worker was also awarded Social Security disability benefits. Eventually, he settled his workers’ compensation case for $35,000. Unfortunately, no verbiage was included in the settlement documents to specify the amortization of the award. Since no rate was specified SSA divided the $35,000 by the $269 rate he was previously being paid which equaled 130 weeks of offset.  In this case, SSA reduced his monthly DIB from $535.50 to $27.20 over those 130 weeks. However, because it would have brought the total of amortized workers’ compensation proceeds and the DIB under the eighty percent of his ACE, had the settlement expressed the in its terms amortized the award over the injured workers’ life expectancy, there would have been no reduction in the injured worker’s DIB. Rodlin at 150.

Another consideration is SSA must also determine which expenses are excludable from the lump-sum award. This includes amounts specified for medical, legal, or related expenses paid. 20 C.F.R. § 404.408(d).  The expenses can be placed at the beginning (front loading method) or spread evenly (steam rolling method) throughout the specified period of the amortization. POMS DI 52001.555H.

Under the front loading method, the excludable expenses will be considered as if paid out first. Since expenses are excluded from the offset, and since according to the terms of the settlement the expenses are being considered first, there will be no offset for the time period that legal expenses and other expenses are being amortized.  This works best in older individuals approaching age since the amortized rate after age 65 is of no consequence because there is no offset after age 65.  For example, assume that a 63 year old claimant settles his workers' compensation claim for $100,000 and has legal fees of $30,000. Also assume he is not receiving DIB because of the combined benefit triggers an offset of DIB. The settlement amortized over the individual’s life expectancy equates $230 per week. The legal fees of $30,000 would be divided by the $230, which would result in no offset for the first 130 weeks following the settlement. If in that case, the amortization of the settlement would eliminate any future offset for the injured worker since the amortization of legal fees are excluded from offset. However, the practitioner only has to use this method if the amortized rate still creates an offset of DIB.

The most commonly used method is the steam rolling method. Under this method, the excludable expenses are spread over the entire period of offset. The excludable expenses are treated as a percentage of the total award. That percentage is then multiplied by the weekly rate, resulting in a reduced weekly rate of payment. For example, consider a $200,000 settlement with $66,000 legal fee and $34,000 in future medical costs.  One hundred thousand dollars is excludable from the award representing the total of the legal fee and the future medical costs. That is fifty percent of the total award. Assuming a fifteen year life expectancy or 780 weeks, the amortization of the settlement would be $256 per week which would be reduced by fifty percent to $128 to account for the excludable expenses.  Again the amortization over the injured workers life expectancy will possibly provide a reduction in the DIB offset in comparison to the client continuing to receive an ongoing award.

Since SSA allows for the workers’ compensation practitioner to amortize the proceeds of the settlement to benefit the injured worker, thoughtful planning at settlement of a workers' compensation award can mean saving the client potentially thousands of dollars by eliminating or reducing an offset of DIB. If you are looking for Social Security disability attorneys,  contact NRS Injury Law or call (855)GOT-HURT to discuss any issues dealing with your workers' compensation claim.

In Ohio, Workers’ Compensation is provided by the state government through a state insurance fund. This insurance is funded by employers, who pay into the system as required by law. In Ohio, every employer who has one or more employees must pay into the state Worker’s Compensation insurance fund. In return for payment into the fund, the company is in compliance with the law and also has the benefit of receiving Workers’ Compensation insurance coverage. Unfortunately some employers choose not to pay into this state-mandated insurance fund.

Small business owners have, on occasion, believed that because they are a small business, they do not have to pay into the state Workers’ Compensation insurance fund. As mentioned above, if a business, even a small business, has one or more employees, they must pay into the state insurance fund. Penalties for failure to pay into the state insurance fund range from fines, to liens, to outright forfeiture of the business. Furthermore, if an accident involving an employee should occur during a lapse of coverage due to non-payment the injured worker can sue the employer for all damage expenses relating to the work injury, or file a Workers’ Compensation claim for which the employer must reimburse the BWC. While small businesses must carry Workers’ Compensation insurance, self-employed workers do not.

Self-employed workers are an exception to the requirement to pay into the state insurance fund and carry Workers’ Compensation insurance. While not required, self-employed workers can elect to pay into the state insurance fund and receive Workers’ Compensation insurance or pay a private company to insure them. We at Nager, Romaine, and Schneiberg highly recommend self-employed workers have Workers’ Compensation coverage. We believe that the short term gains of not paying monthly into the fund, are far outweighed by the exposure to medical bills and lost wages that would accrue in the case of a work-place accident.

If you are injured at work and your employer tells you that the company does not have Workers’ Compensation coverage, seek immediate legal advice. Call 1-855-GOT-HURT to speak with one of our Ohio workers comp lawyers, or fill out our contact form and we will be in touch.

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