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Officer files workers' comp claim after traffic control accident

After a police officer was injured while conducting traffic control at a construction site, a workers' compensation claim was filed. The construction accident occurred in spring 2008 in the village of Oakwood, Ohio, which is near Cleveland. A construction company working on a project in Oakwood would normally use state highway patrol officers for traffic control. But according to reports, the Oakwood police department had told the construction company that it had to use officers from the local police force. The injured officer was one of the village's officers.

While working traffic, the officer's police cruiser was hit by another vehicle, leading to the workers' compensation claim. The claim was made against the village of Oakwood because he was a police officer with the public entity. Initially, the Bureau of Workers' Compensation allowed for this but later said that the construction company was the proper employer at the time of the incident.

The construction company denied liability in this situation, and the claim was sent to the Industrial Commission of Ohio. The commission's hearing found that the officer was wearing a uniform at the time and was sitting in a squad car that had been leased from the village by the construction company. In addition, the officer was paid by the company, and not the village, for his time. Due to this lease, one officer with the commission decided that the officer was the construction company's employee.

But that ruling was overturned by another officer from the commission. According to this later ruling, the construction company was required by the village to use Oakwood officers by the village of Oakwood. Though the squad car was leased, the officer's use of it had been arranged by the police department. Also, traffic control is a procedure not handled by the construction company.

This ruling found Oakwood to be the employer. The Ohio Supreme Court agreed. Thankfully the man can now collect benefits that he is owed.

Source: Akron Legal News, "Who was the employer?" Paul E. Pfeifer, Oct. 22, 2012

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