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Truck driver takes compensation fight to state Supreme Court

There are many situations during which an individual's eligibility for workers' compensation can get blurry. Legal interpretations are extremely important to these matters, but these vary from court to court, as evidenced in one man's case that occurred in Ohio.

The man was a truck driver who was involved in an accident in December 2005. The work-related crash left him injured, but he was cited by authorities. This was his third citation within a year and according to policies for the company that employed him, three citations in one year translated into termination for the employee. The liability insurance policy would not cover the man any longer and the driver, though injured, was let go in January 2006. Officials deemed the termination to be a voluntary abandonment of his position due to the employer's liability policies.

After he was discharged, the man filed a request for temporary total disability benefits. But his request was denied, bringing the rights of the injured into question. A staff hearing officer from the Industrial Commission said the employee could not appeal the denial, either. In September 2007, the man requested benefits again because his injury had become extremely aggravated. Another hearing officer denied his request because his termination was not due to his injury; it was due to his inability to maintain proper standards as a truck driver. Soon after this denial, a staff hearing officer decided to rescind a previous decision and awarded the former driver the benefits he had requested.

But the Industrial Commission eventually removed these benefits, noting that the man lost his earnings because he was not insured, not because of his injuries. The commission reiterated its stance on voluntary abandonment of employment, stating that a person who does this is not entitled to temporary total disability benefits. The case went on to the Court of Appeals, where the man argued that his job loss was related to his injury so he was entitled to compensation. The commission was ordered to further consider the case, and eventually, the Supreme Court of Ohio took on the case, determining that he was eligible. The complex nature of this case underscores the need for a legal professional during such claims.


Source: 
HR.BLR.com, "Is fired Ohio driver entitled to workers' compensation?" No author given, Jun. 18, 2013

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