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New Court Ruling Opens Door for Lump Sum Payments for Work-Related Loss of Arm or Leg

Losing a limb or appendage at work is a horrifying, excruciatingly painful, traumatic and life-changing event. Putting aside the many implications this has outside of work, a major accident like this can prevent an injured worker from continuing to perform all the functions of their job as they once did—and it may prevent them from working that job – or many other jobs – altogether.

When such a tragic accident occurs, the injured worker is entitled to medical treatment, recovery time and compensation through the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC). Ideally, whether compensation benefits are needed immediately and taken in a lump sum or are spread over months and years should be an option for the injured worker to choose.

Yet owing to an earlier court ruling, Ohio workers who fell victim to a workplace accident that resulted in physical mangling or the loss of limbs and/or appendages were forced to collect loss payments in weekly installments, instead of single lump-sum payment.

Now, thanks to a May 12 ruling by the 8th District Court of Appeals, the BWC must begin issuing lump sum payments to injured workers who have lost an arm or a leg in a workplace accident.

The Court ruled in favor of the Ohio Association for Justice’s (OAJ) suit against the BWC. Initially, the trial court ruled against OAJ, but OAJ appealed that verdict.

In its May 12 ruling, the Court found that the Ohio legislature violated the Constitution's single subject rule when it inserted an amendment depriving amputees of a lump sum payment for their injury in a state budget bill in 2012.

According to a statement by the OAJ, the Court reversed and remanded the case to the trial court, ordering the trial court to find for the plaintiff on summary judgment.

The OAJ appeal arose from the passage of the 2012 Mid-Biennium Budget Review Bill, 2012 H.B. 487 H.B. 487)—specifically, its impact on how scheduled loss payments are issued under to injured workers participating in the BWC. The Court’s written appeal states that, “Prior to the passage of H.B. 487, the BWC allowed injured workers to be paid the entire scheduled loss benefit in lump sum. The injured worker did not have to wait the full number of weeks specified by statute in order to receive the entire scheduled loss.

“In September 2010, R.C. 4123.57(B) was revised by H.B. 487. Under the revisions, scheduled loss payments are now issued in weekly installments, for up to decade or more, instead of single lump-sum payment.”

Plaintiffs then alleged they would be forced to wait for substantial period to receive their full benefits.

At Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., L.P.A., we have strongly supported OAJ’s appeal of this case, and we applaud the Court’s action in reversing the earlier verdict.

You can read the Court’s opinion here.

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The attorneys at Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., L.P.A. will continue to actively monitor legislation that affects Ohio consumers and businesses. 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 No-Risk Consultation form, or call (855)GOT-HURT and speak with one of our trained staff members.

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