On June 30, 2017, Governor John Kasich signed House Bill 27 into law, which law amends several provisions of the workers’ compensation law. The law becomes effective on or about September 29, 2017. Some of the highlights are below. On September 6, 2017, attorneys Robert L. Solt, III and Gregory B. Denny will host a webinar discussing these amendments. It is not too late to attend, so register here.
- Statute of Limitations (R. C. 4123.84). Statute of limitations for an injury or death claim is reduced to one year. The bill does not change a statute of limitations for occupational disease claims. This remains at two years.
- Drug Testing (R.C. 4123.54) The bill revises the list of controlled substances and necessary levels for some of the controlled substances. The bill retains the current law requirements regarding barbiturates, benzodiazepines and methadone. The bill removes testing requirements regarding propoxyphene. The current law regarding rebuttal presumptions remains in effect. The definition of rebuttable presumption and reasonable cause remains unchanged, although law does add circumstances where the presumption can be challenged in cases involving firefighters.
- Incarceration/Dependence (R. C. 4123.54) For claims arising on or after the provisions effective date, the bill prohibits compensation benefits from being paid to a deceased employee’s dependent while the dependent is incarcerated as a result of the conviction of any state or federal criminal law. Continuing current law prohibits compensation or benefits being paid to a claimant when they are incarcerated.
- Waiver Required Medical Examinations (R. C. 4123.53) In the state fund context, the administrator may refer a claimant who has received 90 consecutive days of temporary total disability compensation to the BWC Medical Section for medical examination. If the doctor determines that the claimant remains disabled, the present law requires that the medical examiner recommend a date when the claimant should be re-examined. The new law authorizes administrator for good cause to waive the scheduling medical examination during the period an employee is receiving temporary total disability compensation. If the employee’s employer objects to the administrator’s waiver, the administrator must refer the employee to the BWC Medical Section to schedule an examination.
- Full Weekly Wage (R. C. 4123.56) Under the new law, if an employee is eligible for temporary total disability compensation but the employee’s full weekly wage has not been determined at the time payments are to start, employee will be paid at 33-1/3% of the statewide average weekly wage. Once the full weekly wage has been determined, compensation shall be adjusted.
- Dismissal of a Permanent Partial Disability Application (R. C. 4123.57) Under the new law, an application filed on or after the effective date of the new law mandates that if an employee fails to respond to an attempt to schedule a medical examination by the BWC Medical Section or fails to attend a scheduled medical examination without notice or explanation, the employee’s permanent partial disability application must be dismissed without prejudice. An employee may refile his application subject to continuing jurisdiction which allows changes in the claim be for five years from the date of injury or five years from the date of the last payment of benefits or compensation in the claim. It should be mentioned that if an application is pending on the effective date of this law and the claim is in suspension, the administrator must send a notice to the employee’s last known address and inform an employee that the application may be dismissed unless the employee schedules an examination with the BWC Medical Section within 30 days after receiving the notice. If the employee does not schedule a medical examination, the administrator may dismiss the application. The employee may refile his application subject to continuing jurisdiction of the Industrial Commission.
- Appeals of Industrial Commission Order to Court (R. C. 4123.512) For claims arising after the effective date, the bill extends the time to appeal an Industrial Commission order to court from 60 days to 150 days, if a party gives notice of intent to settle and the opposing party does not object. This can effectively change the appeal time to court from 60 to 150 days. Under the new law, a party may file a notice of intent to settle within 30 days after receiving the Commission order finding the notice of intent to settle extends the time 60 days to 150 days unless an objection is filed. The opposing party must object within 14 days after being served with the notice of intent to settle.
- Attorneys’ Fee (R. C. 4123.512) The amount of attorneys’ fee a claimant’s attorney may receive in a court case is increased from $4,200.00 to $5,000.00.