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How to Protect Yourself if You Aren’t Eligible for Workers’ Comp

June 17, 2024

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Workers’ compensation in Ohio offers important financial protection for employees who are injured or contract illnesses as a result of their job duties. However, not all workers can receive workers’ compensation benefits, even if they get injured at work.

Independent contractors, volunteers, and some other categories of workers are ineligible for workers' comp benefits in Ohio. If you fall into one of these categories, it’s important to understand how you can protect yourself legally and financially after a workplace injury.

Here are several steps you can take to protect your health and your finances in the event of a severe injury if you aren't currently eligible for workers' compensation benefits in Ohio.

Understand Your Employment Status

It’s important to know your employment status. Some workers are misclassified as independent contractors when they should be considered employees. This misclassification can affect your eligibility for workers’ compensation.

Ohio law has specific criteria for determining whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor. If you suspect you've been misclassified by your employer to prevent you from receiving workers’ compensation, an Ohio workers’ compensation lawyer may be able to help you get the benefits you are owed.

Document Everything

If you're injured at work, document every detail related to your injury and the circumstances surrounding it. This includes keeping records of medical treatments, conversations with your employer, and any witness statements. This documentation can be extremely important if you’re later eligible to get workers’ compensation or if you’re eligible to sue your employer directly for your injuries.

Get Adequate Health Insurance

Since workers’ comp also provides medical benefits for injured workers, workers who are not covered under it should ensure they have health insurance. This can help mitigate the costs of medical treatment and hospitalization following a workplace injury. Consider policies that offer comprehensive coverage, including emergency services, hospital care, and rehabilitation.

Save for Emergencies

Building an emergency fund is important for many reasons, but it’s especially vital for workers who aren’t covered by workers’ comp. This fund can help cover your daily living expenses and medical bills while you recover from your work-related injury or illness and are unable to work. Aim to save at least three to six months’ worth of expenses.

Explore Alternative Insurance Options

Consider purchasing occupational accident insurance, which can provide benefits similar to workers' compensation. These policies can cover medical expenses, provide disability benefits, and offer death benefits. They are often used by independent contractors who aren’t covered by traditional workers' comp.

Be Safety-Conscious at Work

Take proactive steps to ensure your safety at work. Follow all safety guidelines and training procedures provided by your employer. If safety measures are lacking or inadequate, bring these issues to the attention of your employer or a regulatory body. The safer you are at work, the less likely you are to suffer an injury.

Know Your Legal Rights

When workers are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, they typically must go through the state’s workers’ compensation program to receive compensation and are barred from filing a lawsuit against their employer, even when the employer was at fault for their injury.

Familiarize yourself with your legal rights as a worker in Ohio. If you suffer a workplace injury and are not eligible for workers' comp, you might thus have the option to file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer or an at-fault third party for the cost of your damages. These include not only medical expenses and lost wages but also pain and suffering, which are not included in workers’ compensation benefits.

Even when workers are eligible for workers’ compensation coverage, in cases where an employer's intentional act or omission causes an injury, Ohio law might allow employees to pursue personal injury lawsuits outside of the workers’ compensation system.

Call an Experienced Ohio Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

If you are injured on the job, contacting an experienced Ohio workers’ compensation lawyer can be beneficial. A law firm with a track record of success in these cases can provide guidance on the best course of action, whether it’s disputing your employment status, pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, or exploring other forms of compensation.

Contact Nurenberg Paris Today

If you were injured at work and aren’t currently eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, don’t panic. A significant number of contractors are misclassified, and when they get hurt on the job, they can become eligible for workers’ compensation benefits when they dispute their employment status—especially with the help of an experienced law firm.

At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, we’ve helped thousands of injured workers get benefits for decades. Let us put our experience to work for you. Contact us today for a free consultation. You owe us nothing unless we get you the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve—that’s our No Fee Guarantee®.

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