The General Assembly passed Substitute House Bill 27 and it was signed into law by Governor Kasich. The new law goes into effect September 29, 2017. There are a number of significant changes in the statute that could impact the business community. Some of the changes are as follows:

  • Statute of limitations for filing injury or death claims. Section 4123.84 was revised to decrease the amount of time a person has to file a workers’ compensation claim to one year from the date of injury or the date of death. In the past, claimants have had two years.
  • Handicap charge-offs are applicable to state fund settlements. Section 4123.343 has been changed so that settlements receive the benefit of the handicap charge-off. In the past state fund employers were often reluctant to settle since the full settlement would be charged to the employer without the benefit of a handicap charge-off. Under the new law, the handicap charge-off will be applied to the settlement by the BWC.
  • Waiver of the 90-day Exam. Section 4123.53 is amended to allow the Administrator of the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to waive the 90-day exam for good cause. The employer may object to the Administrator’s waiver. If the employer objects the Bureau Medical Section shall schedule the 90-day medical exam.
  • Time to file an appeal to court may be extended. Section 4123.512 provides that either party has 60 days to file an appeal to the Court of Common Pleas from the final decision of the Industrial Commission allowing or disallowing the claim. Effective September 29, the law will change to provide that either the claimant or the employer may file a notice of an intent to settle the claim within 30 days of the final order of the Industrial Commission. If the opposing party does not object within 14 days, the time to file an appeal to court is extended to 150 days. It is hoped that this will encourage settlements and save court costs.
  • Drug testing changes. Section 4123.54 will be modified to include all controlled substances and the threshold limits are changed to comply with the Code of Federal Regulations.
  • An incarcerated dependent cannot receive compensation. Section 4123.54 is modified to provide that not only are compensation benefits not payable to a claimant during a period of incarceration, but such benefits are also not payable to a dependent during the dependents period of confinement to any state or federal correctional institution.
  • Calculations of full weekly wage. Revised code Section 4123.56 is amended to provide that if an employee’s full weekly wage cannot be determined, then the BWC may set the FWW at thirty-three and one third percent of the statewide average weekly wage. When the correct information is received the FWW may be adjusted accordingly.
  • Dismissal of C-92 applications when the claimant fails to attend a medical examination scheduled by the BWC. In the past, if a claimant failed to appear for a medical examination, the claim would be held in abeyance. Section 4123.57 is changed to provide that if a claimant does not explain his failure to appear for an examination, then the C-92 application shall be dismissed without prejudice. This will allow the statute of continuing jurisdiction to run, so that claims do not remain open for a long period of time. The law has also changed to allow the Administrator to deal with more than 20,000 C-92 applications that have been pending for many years.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss the legislative changes please call one of the attorneys at Garvin & Hickey, LLC.