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Columbus Injured Worker Legal Blog

Jury awards $1.26 million in school bus crash lawsuit

The phrase "wrongful death" often seems like nothing more than a legal abstraction. However, a recent jury verdict in favor of a Mentor, Ohio resident demonstrates the true meaning of wrongful death.

The lawsuit was brought by the husband of a woman who died from injuries suffered in a collision with a school bus operated by the Mentor school district. The decedent was driving west on Route 84 when the east bound school bus crossed into her lane and slammed into her car. The woman died of injuries at a nearby hospital shortly after the crash.

Comparing SSDI and workers' compensation

Ohioans who suffer from serious illnesses or injuries that limit their ability to work often consider seeking workers' compensation benefits or Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Unfortunately, these people are often uncertain about whether they are eligible for benefits under either or both of these programs. This post will examine the essential differences between the two programs.

Workers' compensation benefits are administered by the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation. Social Security Disability benefits are overseen by the Social Security Administration, a federal agency. To be eligible for workers' compensation benefits, a person must suffer an injury that is related to the person's work or contract an illness that is likewise related to the job. SSDI benefits, on the other hand, can be awarded for any illness or injury, regardless of whether the condition is related to the person's employment.

3 things you can do to improve your SSD claim

Even if you have a severe disability, getting the Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits you need is never easy. In fact, most disability claims are initially denied. Fortunately, however, there are several steps you can take to strengthen your disability claim - and thereby increase your chances of receiving the benefits you need and deserve.

OSHA cites Ohio foundry for repeated safety violations

The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration is responsible for ensuring worker safety by devising and enforcing regulations that require employers to follow certain safety precautions. If an employer refuses to obey an OSHA order, the result can be a heavy fine. An Ohio foundry recently learned this lesson when a follow-up OSHA inspection found that the company was continuing to expose workers to workplace accidents involving machinery and fall hazards.

The company was first cited by OSHA for safety violations in 2013 and 2014. A recent OSHA inspection found that the company had failed to cure the omissions cited in the earlier reports. The omissions included:

  • Failure to develop and implement adequate lockout and tagging procedures for repairing machinery;
  • Exposing workers to live electrical contacts
  • Failure to install proper machine guards
  • Exposing workers to fall hazards by failing to install guard rails and cover floor holes

Can professional athletes get workers' comp? You may be surprised.

A lot of people are surprised to learn that most professional athletes have traditionally been allowed to collect workers' comp benefits when they are injured playing sports - especially since many of these athletes make millions of dollars a year.

In some cases, athletes have even sought workers' compensation benefits in a completely different state than the one in which their team is located. For example, in years past, many injured athletes applied for workers' comp in California since it provided some of the most generous benefits in the nation and had a longer statute of limitations than most states - meaning even some retired players could apply for benefits. In many instances, these athletes would be able to collect benefits so long as they could prove they played at least one game in California, even if their team was from another state.

Tax season is here. Will I have to pay taxes on my SSD benefits?

Many disabled individuals are surprised to learn that their Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits may be taxable, depending on their situation. In fact, while Ohio doesn't tax SSD benefits at the state level, roughly one-third of all current beneficiaries will end up paying federal taxes, according to the Social Security Administration.

However, as with all things involving the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), determining whether you will actually have to pay taxes can be a complex process involving many factors, including the level of benefits you receive as well as the amount of non-SSD income you earn.

Appealing the denial of a workers' compensation claim

An injured Ohio worker who applies for workers' compensation benefits may find that the claim has been denied. A common question in such cases is, "What next?" In other words, is there an appeal process? And what agency hears such an appeal? Can the worker take the case to court? The post will review the appellate processes available under the Ohio workers' compensation system.

If the Bureau of Workers' Compensation denies a claim for any reason, the worker can file an appeal with the Ohio Industrial Commission. The IC has three levels of appeals. In the first level, the claim is set for a hearing before a district hearing officer. The hearing is held at the IC office nearest the injured worker's residence. The DHO reviews the entire case and any additional evidence that is submitted at the hearing. After completing the review, the DHO is required to prepare a written order and mail it to the parties. If either party is dissatisfied with the decision of the DHO, the party can request further review by a Staff Hearing Officer. The SHO will conduct a hearing, review the evidence and prepare and serve a written decision.

Recovering damages from a third party for work-related injuries

All Ohioans who suffer a work-related injury are entitled to receive benefits according to the formula prescribed by the state's workers compensation code. These payments are made in lieu of amounts the worker might recover in a lawsuit against the employer even if the employer were liable for the injury. Many times, however, a work-related injury is caused by the negligence of a third party. This post will examine the rules for recovering damages from such a third party.

State law gives both the injured worker and any party paying workers compensation benefits, called a "statutory subrogee", the right to sue the third party, but the "net amount recovered" is allocated according to a statutory formula. The "net amount recovered" from the third party is defined as the amount recovered minus attorneys' fees and costs, and other expenses paid by the worker to prosecute the lawsuit. Punitive damages awarded by the court are not included in the net amount recovered.

OSHA cites Ohio plastics firm for injuries, poor safety record

Ohioans injured in workplace accidents often wonder if the incident could have been prevented and their injury avoided. Both the State of Ohio and the United States Department of Labor maintain programs to ensure that employers use all reasonable safety precautions to protect their employees against workplace injuries. A recent Occupational Safety and Health Administration citation of a plastics manufacturing firm in New Philadelphia, OH shows that some employers do not pay sufficient attention to prevention of workplace accidents.

OSHA has issued a citation to Lauren Manufacturing after it completed an investigation of a second debilitating injury suffered by one of its employees in less than 18 months. The investigation was triggered by an accident in which a pneumatic bench cutter severed the operator's finger as she was cutting rubber material. OSHA's inspectors found that the employer had failed to adjust the machine's safeguards, which are intended to prevent the worker's hands from contacting the cutter's operating parts.

Ohio ranks fifth among states in workplace deaths

Fatal workplace accidents are an unwelcome aspect of an industrialized society. According to figures recently released by the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ohio had the fifth highest statewide total of fatal workplace injuries in 2015, the most recent year for which such numbers are available. A review of the statistics for Ohio and the nation at large reveals some interesting patterns.

Nationally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' figures show that the number of fatal occupational injuries increased from 4,821 in 2014 to 4,836 in 2015. Ohio's number of fatal occupational injuries increased by 17 or the same period, from 185 in 2014 to 202 in 2015. The only states with higher numbers of workplace deaths were Texas (527), California (388), Florida (272) and New York (236). The Bureau said that the national total of fatalities in 2015 was the highest since 2008, when 5,214 fatal workplace accidents occurred across the country. In spite of Ohio's relatively high rank in the absolute number of workplace fatalities, the number of deaths per 100,000 workers was 3.9 in 2015, ranking the state 20th overall. The highest number of workplace fatalities per 100,000 workers was 12.5 in North Dakota.

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Philip J. Fulton Law OfficeRepresenting Victims Of Workplace Injuries And Disability

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