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Ohio Workers' Compensation: What to Know Before You File

Written by
A drawing of the lead workers' compensation lawyer for Atticus.
Victoria Muñoz
Lead Attorney
February 28, 2023  ·  10 min read
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If you got injured or sick on the job in Ohio, you qualify for workers' compensation. These benefits, provided through your employer and the state, make up for your medical costs and lost wages.

Many people who think they wouldn’t qualify for workers’ comp actually do, especially when they have a lawyer to help them apply. Here’s how workers’ comp works in Ohio.


Who qualifies for workers’ comp in Ohio?

You qualify for Ohio workers’ comp if you get sick or injured while working. Workers’ compensation is “no fault”—meaning that you should qualify regardless of the nature of the accident, or who was to blame for your injuries. 

While employees who live in Ohio qualify for workers compensation anytime they’re hurt while working, there are special rules for workers in these categories:

  • Volunteers: Most volunteers can’t get workers’ comp. But, volunteers who provide emergency services, like firefighters, are eligible. Public employers such as state agencies can choose to provide workers’ comp coverage for their volunteers.
  • Out-of-state employees: If you live out of state and work for an employer in Ohio, you have workers’ comp coverage under Ohio law. However, if you work in Ohio for 90 days or fewer, you’ll need to follow the workers’ comp laws of your home state.

Independent contractors don’t qualify for workers’ comp. But, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) may consider you an employee even if your employer calls you a contractor. If they have a lot of control over your hours, processes, and work location, you might actually be an employee under the law.

Do you qualify for workers' comp if your injury keeps you out of work for seven days or fewer?

If you miss seven days of work or fewer from your injury, you can qualify for medical coverage only. The BWC calls this type of benefit medical only.

Workers who miss eight or more days of work get lost time benefits, meaning they get payments for lost work time and medical coverage.


Injuries that qualify for Ohio workers’ comp

Injuries you receive at work qualify for workers’ comp, including:

  • Accidental injuries: Injuries from both minor and serious accidents count for benefits, even when the accident was your fault. These conditions can range from broken bones to permanent disability.
  • Repetitive stress injuries: Some qualifying conditions build over time from repetitive motions you make on the job. For example, a warehouse worker could get tendonitis in their knees from constantly lifting boxes.
  • Occupational diseases: Illnesses you get from exposure at work also count, like lung disease from breathing in asbestos.
  • Preexisting conditions that get worse: When you have a preexisting condition that gets worse due to work conditions, you can also get workers’ comp benefits.

If you aren’t sure if your condition qualifies, take our two-minute quiz. You’ll learn if you could qualify and get access to further legal help.

What injuries don’t qualify?

In certain situations, an injury won’t qualify for workers’ comp, even if it fits the categories you just learned about. These cases could disqualify an injury:

  • You weren’t working or doing your job duties, even though you were at your workplace.
  • You were drunk or under the influence of drugs.
  • The actions you took that led to your condition violated safety rules.
  • You were doing something that broke the law when you got sick or injured.

How to file for workers’ comp in Ohio

As soon as possible after your injury, report it to your employer. Unlike other states, Ohio doesn’t put a time limit on how soon you should let your employer know about your injury, but early reporting will help you make a good case. It’s easier to remember details about the incident soon after it happens, and you’ll avoid any doubt of your eligibility related to late reporting.

Once you tell your employer about your condition, it’s time to file your workers’ comp claim. You or one of the following people can file for workers’ comp on your behalf:

  • Your doctor
  • Your employer
  • Your employer’s managed care organization (MCO), the go-between for your employer and the BWC
  • Your lawyer
  • Any other person with a stake in your situation, like your spouse

Any of these people besides your doctor can complete the First Report of Injury, Occupational Disease or Death (FROI) form online to complete a claim. They can also mail or fax the PDF version of the form or call the BWC to file a claim over the phone.

Doctors have a slightly different process to follow. They need to submit a claim using the FROI form within 24 hours of your visit with them. In addition to using the methods mentioned above, they can also send the claim to your employer’s MCO.


What to expect during the Ohio workers’ comp claim process

The workers’ comp process in Ohio involves these people:

  • You: You’ll notify your employer about your injury, see your doctor for medical care, and provide other people involved in your claim with information about your case.
  • Your employer: After you let your employer know about your condition, they’ll investigate what happened, then confirm or reject your injury with the BWC. They’ll also work on your return-to-work plan. If your employer is self-insured, they’ll pay your workers’ comp benefits directly.
  • The BWC: Based on the information they receive, the BWC will decide if your injury qualifies for workers’ comp. If so, they’ll pay out your benefits if you don’t have a self-insured employer.
  • Your employer’s MCO: If your employer isn’t self-insured, they’ll have an MCO that will manage the medical aspects of your benefits. Your employer’s MCO will get medical information from you and your doctor and relay it to the BWC.
  • Your lawyer: Your lawyer will support you throughout the workers’ comp process. They can help you file a claim, make an appeal on a decision you don’t agree with, and answer any questions you have.

The BWC aims to make a decision on each claim within four weeks. During that time, they’ll review information from you, your employer, and your employer’s MCO. The MCO may get in touch to get more medical information from you. You may also need to complete the Authorization to Release Medical Information (C-101) form to release your medical records.

If your condition causes you to lose eight days of work or more, the BWC might request details about your wages. They’ll use this information to decide how much you can get in benefits to cover your lost time.

In situations where your condition will make you lose a lot of work time, you might need to submit two more forms. You’ll fill out the Request for Temporary Total Compensation (C-84) form. Meanwhile, your doctor will complete the Physician's Report of Work Ability (MEDCO-14). The BWC will ask you to regularly file these forms if you need to stay out of work for a while.

Once the BWC makes a decision on your claim, you or your employer can appeal it within 14 days. If you appeal, your lawyer can help you get the payouts due to you. Your lawyer can also support you if your employer appeals by helping you prove you deserve the benefits you have.


Getting medical care under Ohio workers’ comp

During treatment, remember that the BWC will not pay any medical or pharmacy bills until they approve your claim and the appeal period ends. Keep a record of all of the bills you receive before your claim gets approved, then make sure your first payment covers it all. Talk to your lawyer if they don’t cover everything you paid for upfront.

Before you see a doctor for your condition, know your employer’s MCO or if they’re self-insured. Ask your employer or use the BWC’s database.

During your first visit or an emergency, you can see any doctor to get treatment that the BWC will cover under workers’ comp. For any normal appointment after your first, the BWC requires you to see a BWC-certified provider. You can find one of these doctors using the official directory.

If you want to get wage coverage benefits, give your doctor the Request for Temporary Total Compensation form to fill out on your first visit. Certified doctors already know to do this, but a non-certified doctor may not.

Your doctor may need to get approval from your employer’s MCO for additional treatments or conditions. If you disagree with their decision or your employer appeals, talk to your lawyer about the best course of action.


How much does workers’ comp pay in Ohio?

The amount and frequency of your workers’ comp payments depend on the type of benefit you receive. Let’s look at all of Ohio’s main wage compensation benefit programs:

Temporary total (TT) compensation

Most people who get Ohio workers’ comp benefits to replace their wages get temporary total (TT) compensation first. If you can’t work for more than seven days because of your injury, you’ll get weekly payments to make up for your lost wages.

The BWC bases TT compensation payouts on the wages you received before your injury. For the first 12 weeks of benefits, you receive 72% of your full weekly wage. Ohio law calculates your full weekly wage as the higher of these two numbers:

  • Your average weekly pay for the six weeks before your injury
  • The total payments for the seven days before your injury

After 12 weeks, you’ll receive benefits based on your average weekly wage — the average wage you earned per week for the year before your injury. These payments add up to 66⅔% of your average weekly wage.

Keep in mind that the BWC sets minimum and maximum amounts for TT compensation pay. In 2023, you can get a maximum of $1,149 per week without Social Security retirement benefits or $766 with them. You must get a minimum of $383 per week.

Permanent partial (PP) and percent of permanent partial (%PP)

Permanent partial (PP) and percent of permanent partial (%PP) benefits offer support to people who lose body function due to their condition. Generally, a worker getting workers’ comp will get TT compensation until they reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) — the point where their condition recovers the most it can. If they can still work but lose function, they can get PP or %PP compensation.

People who have severe and permanent injuries like loss of a limb can get biweekly PP benefits calculated from a total reward based on their injury. The payment installments you’ll receive depend on the date of your injury:

  • Injuries before November 3, 1989: 66⅔% of the average weekly wage at the time of the injury, but not more than 50% of the state average weekly wage or less than 25% of the state average weekly wage
  • Injuries after November 3, 1989: 100% of the state average weekly wage, which is $1,149 in 2023

Note that the BWC sets a maximum number of weeks and total award for %PP every year. You can find 2023’s maximums in this document under the “Scheduled Loss - Schedule B” table.

If you have a partial loss of function, like not being able to bend your finger all the way anymore, you could qualify for %PP benefits. The BWC will calculate your pay based on your wages before your injury and American Medical Association scoring. In 2023, you can get a maximum of $383 per week from %PP benefits.

Permanent total disability (PTD)

If you can’t work at all after reaching MMI, you qualify for permanent total disability (PTD) benefits. You can receive these payments for the rest of your life.

The BWC calculates PTD compensation based on your average weekly wage before your injury and the state weekly average wage. In 2023, people who don’t receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can get a maximum payment of $1,149, while people who do can get up to $766. You’ll get a minimum of $574.50 for PTD payments.

Speaking of SSDI, if your injury made you unable to work, you could also qualify for SSDI benefits. Learn more about this federal program and how to apply for it in our guide.


How long can you be on Ohio workers’ comp?

The length of time that you can get workers’ comp benefits depends on your injury and the program you qualify for. Here are the maximum amounts of time you can stay on each program:

  • Temporary total (TT) compensation: TT compensation ends when you go back to work, reach MMI, go to jail, or abandon employment.
  • Permanent partial (PP) and percent of permanent partial (%PP): PP and %PP scheduled loss payments come in until you receive the full amount of your award or you reach the maximum number of weeks allowed for your injury. You can find the limits for each injury type in this document under the Scheduled Loss - Schedule B table.
  • Permanent total disability (PTD): If you qualify for PTD, you can receive it for your entire life.

When do Ohio workers’ comp payments start?

You will receive your first workers’ comp payment soon after the BWC or your employer approves of your claim. The BWC handles most claims within four weeks and requires self-insured employers to make claim decisions within 30 days. If your self-insured employer takes more than a month to make a decision, consult your lawyer about your options to speed up the process.

The time that your lost time from work starts counting for TT compensation depends on the amount of time your injury keeps you out of work. In cases where you can’t work for less than 14 consecutive calendar days, you don’t get compensated for the first seven days you had to take off work. Once you get to a point where you can’t work for 14 days in a row, you’ll receive money covering the lost wages for the first seven days you couldn’t work.


What other workers’ comp benefits can you get in Ohio?

In addition to medical and lost wage coverage, the BWC offers these benefits under workers’ comp:

  • Lump sum advancement: People who receive PTD or PP can ask for a benefit payment in advance to cover important expenses like bills or tuition. Since this benefit is an advance payment, keep in mind it will affect your future payout schedule.
  • Lump sum settlement: You, your employer, or BWC can ask to pay out the rest of your benefits as one big payment rather than weekly payments. One situation where this could happen is when an employer would rather pay a large amount all at once instead of covering benefits long-term.
  • Wage loss: If you go back to work but your injury causes you to earn less, you could qualify for wage loss benefits. You can apply for wage loss even if you don’t have a job, as long as you can show that you’re trying to find one.
  • Change of occupation: People who work in occupations that could expose them to contaminants like asbestos can request benefits to help them change to a job with less exposure.
  • Facial disfigurement: In cases where a worker’s injury causes visible damage to their face or head, they can get a one-time payment of up to $10,000.
  • Survivor’s benefits: The spouse, child, or another dependent of a worker who dies from a work-related condition can ask for death benefits. This program applies to situations where the condition causes immediate death and where it eventually results in death.
  • Accrued compensation: If someone who gets workers’ comp passes away and their employer still owes them benefits, their dependent or estate executor can request the remaining money.
  • Violation of specific safety requirement: When a workers’ comp-eligible illness or injury happens because of an employer breaking safety rules, the worker or their dependent can request extra compensation.
  • Travel reimbursement: As you get medical care for your covered condition, you can ask for travel reimbursement. This benefit covers car trips longer than 45 miles round trip, fees for other types of transportation, tolls, parking, meals, lodging, and travel companions.

Are workers’ comp benefits taxable?

No, you don’t have to pay taxes on your workers’ comp benefits. Even in cases where you get a lump sum payment instead of weekly payouts, neither the state nor federal governments will tax you on it.


Can you work while on workers’ comp in Ohio?

Most people who get workers’ comp can’t go back to work while they get benefits if they want to keep receiving payments.

When you register for TT compensation, the first workers’ comp program most people take part in, you must agree that you won’t work while you receive benefits. The BWC doesn’t allow working while taking part in the TT compensation program.

Workers who get PP or %PP for partial disability can sometimes go back to work (especially if their duties are modified) and receive benefits—but returning to work could affect their payouts. Talk to your lawyer if you want to go back to work while trying to maximize your payments.

If you feel ready to go back to work but not at the capacity you had before, you can take part in one of these programs:

  • Transitional work: You take on a few of your job duties before going back to your full list of job duties.
  • Modified work: Your employer modifies your job to remove any physical barriers to work related to your condition.
  • Light duty: You perform your previous job with reduced physical requirements.
  • Alternative work: If you can’t return to your previous position because of your condition, you can take on different work that you can do.

If you decide to participate in one of these programs, remember that you won’t qualify for TT payments anymore. However, if your condition still affects your ability to work after reaching MMI and you can’t get PP or %PP, consider asking for wage loss benefits. This program will provide payments even while you work.


Do you need a lawyer to get workers’ comp in Ohio?

No, you don’t need a lawyer to apply for workers’ comp. But, hiring a lawyer can raise your chance of getting the highest amount of benefits owed to you. Workers’ comp settlements for people who hire a lawyer are five times larger than those for people who don’t.

They’ll guide you through situations like:

  • The BWC or your self-insured employer denies your claim, even though your injury makes it hard to work
  • You get an inaccurate diagnosis from your doctor that affects your payments
  • Your employer’s MCO rejects coverage for a treatment you need
  • You get fewer benefits than you expected to receive
  • You want to go back to work while receiving workers’ comp
  • You need help understanding the workers’ comp process and your rights

Since workers’ comp law stays the same in every city and county in Ohio, you can hire a lawyer anywhere in the state. Follow these tips to find the right lawyer for your case.


Get help with your workers’ comp claim

Starting a workers’ comp claim and getting a lawyer can seem overwhelming, but you have legal professionals ready to help. Take our workers’ comp eligibility quiz to see if you could qualify and get connected with a lawyer.

Maximize your workers' comp benefits.

Frequently asked questions: workers’ comp in Ohio

How do I file a workers’ comp claim in Ohio?

After a work injury or illness, notify your employer as soon as possible. Then file a First Report of Injury (FROI) form to apply for benefits. There is a seven-day waiting period (from the time of your injury) before you’re eligible for benefits. You can find more detail in our full guide to Ohio workers’ comp.

How much does workers’ comp pay in Ohio?

Ohio workers’ comp pays up to 72% of your weekly wages for the first 12 weeks, and then up to two-thirds (66 ⅔%). There is also a minimum payment of $383.00 per week and a maximum of $1,149.00 per week in 2023. Learn more about how much workers’ comp pays in each state.

When does workers' comp start paying in Ohio?

There is a seven-day waiting period before you’re eligible to receive payments. After you file a claim, the workers’ comp board should approve or deny your claim within four weeks.

How long can I be on workers’ comp pay in Ohio?

Ohio workers’ compensation benefits last until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) or until you can return to work. You can qualify for long-term benefits if you never fully recover. Our guide to how long workers’ comp payments last in each state has more information.

Can I work on workers' comp in Ohio?

Ohio does allow you to do light-duty or modified-duty work while on workers’ comp, but you need to stay within your treating physician’s instructions. Here’s more working while on workers’ comp.

Is workers’ comp taxable in Ohio?

No, Ohio workers’ comp payments aren’t taxable. That includes medical benefits, weekly payments, and settlements.

See what you qualify for

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A drawing of the lead workers' compensation lawyer for Atticus.

Victoria Muñoz

Lead Attorney

Victoria Muñoz is an attorney on Atticus’s Workers' Compensation team. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of Stanford Law School, and has counseled hundreds of people seeking workers' compensation. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and spending time with her pup.
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