The recent case of Kljun v. Administrator, BWC demonstrates how politics impacts policy. By law, an injured worker who suffers the amputation of a body part is entitled to receive an automatic award of compensation. For instance, one who loses a hand receives one hundred and seventy-five (175) weeks of compensation, a toe is thirty (30) weeks, a leg is two hundred (200) weeks, etc. This schedule is provided for in R.C. § 4123.57(B).
Prior to 2010, the injured worker received the entire award upon a demonstration of eligibility. Yet, under H.B. 487 the Ohio legislature revised the statute to mandate a weekly installment of payments, sometimes of up to a decade or more, instead of single lump-sum payments.
Why the change? An injured worker who died while receiving an installment payment would immediately cease receiving payment. Moreover, if the BWC or an employer wished to settle with a desperate worker, they would be entitled to reduce the value of these payments to their present value – a fraction of the full amount.
H.B. 487 was a back-door attempt by the Ohio legislature to reduce the benefits paid to injured workers. The Eighth District Court of Appeals commented “…The amendments…were tucked away in the lengthy enactment, ensuring they would evade public commentary…”
Many thanks go to the Ohio Association for Justice for doing the heavy lifting necessary to bring this matter to light and overturn this transparent effort to repeal the rights of injured and disabled Ohioans.