Am I paid for my "pain and suffering" in an Ohio workers compensation claim?

Perhaps the most frequent question I am asked by injured workers is whether (and when) I will get paid for "pain and suffering."  Technically, Ohio does not pay an injured worker for "pain and suffering."  Instead, they call it "impairment to earnings capacity."  This award is paid pursuant to R.C. sec. 4123.57 and is called "permanent partial disability."

This distinction is significant.  R.C. 4123.57 states that an award is based upon an injury "...causing permanent impairment evidenced by medical or clinical findings reasonably demonstrable."  What does that mean?  It means that your award is based upon the results of a medical examination.  Therefore, if your injury causes extreme "pain and suffering," but your recovery is good (or total), then your award is likely to be very small.

A good example of this involves superficial lacerations.  A worker might cut his or her arm and require multiple stitches and create a very painful injury.  Fortunately, cuts heal.  But for the scar, the recovery may be near total. This type of injury will involve a great degree of pain and suffering, but will generate a very low award (Ohio BWC does not provide compensation for scarring unless it involves facial scarring -- and then only in limited circumstances).

On the other hand, some injuries involve both "pain and suffering" as well as "clinical findings reasonably demonstrable."  Fractures, back injuries, and carpal tunnel syndrome are a few conditions which create impairment that is reasonably demonstrable upon examination.

For more information on permanent partial disability click here.