My Ohio-based law firm has a large office in Cleveland, where we help many clients who choose to fight denials of workers’ compensation claims for burn injuries. Second- and third-degree burns are constant dangers for anyone who works around large machines, handles caustic chemicals, or works with electricity. Fully recovering is not always possible because serious burns can leave behind scar tissue that limits movement. Some burns are so severe that they destroy muscles and nerves.
So, yes, workers’ comp covers burns. But not every burn injury suffered on the job will qualify an injured employee to receive benefits. Consulting with a Columbus Workers Compensation attorney will help you understand exactly what you must do to receive temporary disability benefits and compensation for medical care in Ohio. Here are three things to keep in mind before applying.
Your Burn Must be Severe Enough to Keep You Out of Work for Weeks or Months
Heat, electric shocks, and chemicals can all cause burns, but all burns do not create the same amount of pain, damage, and disability. The Ohio Workers’ Compensation program will only pay benefits to an employee who must miss work for a significant period while recovering. That time period is not set by regulation or law, but it must be more than a day or two.
Your Burn Must Have Happened While You Were Engaged in Authorized Work Activities
Many claims for workers’ comp benefits get hung up over questions of whether the applicant suffered his or her injury at work and while doing what they were supposed to be doing. Employers and case reviewers are permitted to raise these questions, and an applicant has the right to hire a workers’ compensation attorney to provide answers.
The Ohio Workers’ Compensation program will ask for proof that an employee who suffered burns was
- On the clock,
- Performing assigned tasks, and
- Neither drunk or stoned, nor doing anything illegal.
The specific questions and answers can get very detailed. For instance:
- If the burn resulted from an electric shock, was the employee trying to fix something that they should have called maintenance about?
- If a chemical spill burned the employee, did the employee improperly store the chemicals in the first place?
- If the burn happened while the employee was operating a machine, were they following all the prescribed operating procedures and wearing required safety gear?
The official accident report prepared by the employer may well present different conclusions than an investigation conducted by a Cleveland workers’ comp attorney.
You Will Need Medical Records
The Ohio Workers’ Compensation program requires proof that an injury required medical treatment and caused a short- or long-term disability. In addition to records from emergency room visits and hospital stays, workers’ comp applicants should keep prescription orders and notes from therapists. All this documentation can be especially important when a burn resulted from an electric shock, as those injuries may be mostly internal and not visible to others. A lawyer can help an employee access, organize and submit this information.
Gregory R. Mitchell is a Cleveland workers’ comp lawyer and partner at Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman represents clients in workers comp appeal hearings.