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Ohio Worker Severely Burned in Accident Challenges 2005 Workers’ Comp Limit

In 2005, the Ohio legislature enacted a law that limited the amount of damages a worker injured on the job could receive to workers’ compensation benefits only without proving that the employer had a willful intent to injury the worker. The standard of willful intent to injure has proved to be a difficult standard to meet and has left a number of injured workers without the full amount of damages they desperately need.

An apprentice lineman who worked for the utility contractor L.E. Myers Co. broke through the workers’ compensation limiting barrier in a case that challenged the 2005 Ohio law when the jury awarded him more than workers’ compensation benefits would allow. He hopes that the 8th Circuit Court will uphold the verdict on appeal.

The apprentice lineman had been seriously injured in a workplace accident in 2006 when the metal equipment that he was using contacted a live wire. The electric surge entered his hand and pulsed through his body causing him to suffer from electric shock and severe burns. In his case for compensatory damages, he was awarded $600,000, a sum that covered lost wages as well as pain and suffering.

The argument made in the case is one based on the employer’s willingness to allow an apprentice worker to work in a lift buck without supervision near electrical lines carrying well over 500 volts. The allowance, he says, was a direct violation of the rules governing apprentice workers. His claim also states that the employer specifically told the worker to use leather gloves which provided inadequate protection compared to the rubberize gloves and sleeves

Source: Safety.BLR.com “Court to Hear Case Challenging Limit on Workers’ Comp Benefits” 1/3/11

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