Workers’ Compensation Insurance in Ohio
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Ohio workers' compensation insurance

Ohio law requires every business with employees to provide workers’ compensation insurance purchased through a state agency. This policy covers medical bills and partial lost wages for work-related injuries.

Workers’ compensation requirements in Ohio

The State of Ohio workers’ compensation system is different than in most other states. Ohio uses what is called a monopolistic state fund, which means that workers’ compensation insurance can only be purchased through a government-operated fund – not through a private insurer.

Who needs workers’ compensation coverage in Ohio?

Any business that employs even one person in Ohio must carry workers’ compensation insurance.

It’s crucial that employers correctly classify individuals as employees or independent contractors. If the employer manages working hours, materials, travel routes, and quality of performance, then the worker is an employee and the business owner is required to provide workers’ comp coverage.

The exception is domestic workers, such as housekeepers, babysitters, and gardeners, who earn less than $160 per calendar quarter. If the worker is paid more than that amount during a 13-week period, then the employer is required to have workers’ comp coverage.

Volunteers are not required to be covered by workers’ comp insurance, unless their work is for a public employer, such as a volunteer firefighter or emergency medical technician.

Out-of-state workers are subject to workers' compensation laws in their own states; Ohio employees working in other states may need additional coverage.

Do you need workers’ compensation in Ohio if you are self-employed? 

A sole proprietor or member of a partnership must carry workers’ compensation insurance for any employees of the business, but it is optional for owners to have insurance for themselves. However, it's still a good idea to buy coverage for yourself.

Without workers' comp, you may end up paying for expensive medical bills out of pocket, as personal health insurance plans often won't cover work-related injuries. Workers' comp also pays for part of the wages you miss out on while recovering, which can be a huge loss if an injury sidelines you for an extended period.

Is workers’ comp mandatory in Ohio for part-time employees?

Ohio employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance for part-time employees. However, if an injury occurs, the part-time employee’s benefits would be calculated according to a specific formula that takes into account how many hours the person usually works.

How much does workers' compensation insurance cost in Ohio?

Male business owner calculating number of employees and other factors

Estimated employer rates for workers’ compensation in Ohio are $0.64 per $100 in covered payroll. Your cost is based on a number of factors, including:

  • Payroll
  • Location
  • Number of employees
  • Industry and risk factors
  • Coverage limits
  • Claims history
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How does workers’ compensation work in Ohio?

Workers' compensation insurance in Ohio must be purchased through the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC). In limited cases, businesses can qualify for self-insurance.

Any Ohio workers’ compensation claims go through the BWC or the Ohio Industrial Commission (IC).

What are workers' compensation benefits in Ohio?

If an employee suffers a workplace injury or develops an occupational disease, the BWC pays for medical care and lost wages. The employee can see any doctor for their first visit, but then must choose a medical provider certified by the BWC.

Workers' compensation benefits for injured employees in Ohio include:

  • Medical benefits
  • Temporary total disability benefits
  • Scheduled loss awards
  • Permanent total disability benefits
  • Change of occupation awards
  • Death benefits

Workers' compensation in Ohio is a no-fault system, which means that employees are eligible for benefits regardless of who's responsible for the injury. For details, visit the BWC page on types of compensation.

Does Ohio workers' compensation protect against employee lawsuits?

Workers' compensation insurance usually includes employer's liability insurance, but that's not the case when it's purchased through a state fund.

Ohio employers who want this coverage, which protects against employee lawsuits over injuries, must purchase it as stop-gap coverage. They can usually add it to their general liability policy purchased through a private insurer.

General liability insurance and other small business insurance policies are available at competitive rates in the open market in Ohio. Start a free online application with Insureon to compare quotes from leading insurers today.

What are the penalties for not having workers’ comp insurance in Ohio?

The BWC closely monitors and enforces workers’ compensation law. Ohio has strict penalties for businesses that fail to comply or that allow coverage to lapse.

It’s up to the BWC to set a premium for each employer every year. It will then send the employer a payment schedule. These premiums are based on a company’s estimated payroll, which is then re-evaluated each July and adjusted to reflect the actual payroll amount. Employers pay premiums directly to the BWC.

If a company allows coverage to lapse by not paying premiums, or if it does not submit a payroll report on time, penalties are assessed as follows:

  • Failure to file a payroll report on time is 1% of the premium due ($3 minimum to $15 maximum).
  • Failure to pay a premium on time would result in a $30 flat fee, along with a charge of up to 15% of the premium due, depending on how late it is received.
  • The BWC would file assessment liens for nonpayment of premiums and claim costs when there is a lapse in coverage.

If an accident occurs and a policy has lapsed, the employer can be sued by the injured worker for all damages and expenses or file a workers’ comp claim. The Ohio BWC would then require that the employer reimburse it for the entire cost of the claim.

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Ohio workers’ compensation law for death benefits

Workers’ compensation death benefits in Ohio can be awarded to dependents – those who relied on the deceased worker for financial support. Dependents include:

  • A spouse
  • A child under 18
  • A child under 25 who is a full-time student
  • A disabled child of any age who cannot earn a living

There might be other family members who qualify as wholly or partially dependent, but that would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Death benefits are 66.67% of the worker’s average weekly wage, within the state maximum and minimum, which changes annually. The BWC would decide how to allocate benefits among dependents. Generally, the spouse would receive benefits until he or she dies or remarries. Upon remarriage, the spouse would receive two years’ worth of benefits in a single lump sum.

The workers’ compensation death benefits also include up to $5,500 for burial expenses.

Ohio workers’ compensation settlements

An employer can clear itself from further time and costs by participating in a workers’ compensation settlement. Ohio, like other states, accepts settlements as closure of a claim and the employee is not allowed to request additional benefits. Generally, a settlement is paid in a lump sum or a structured settlement, with the total sum paid out over time in increments.

There are four workers’ compensation Ohio requirements that must be met to have a claim lead to a settlement:

  • There must be an employer / employee relationship that establishes that the individual was rightfully entitled to benefits and was not an independent contractor.
  • The injury was “accidental in character and result,” which means that an employee must have been following workplace protocol and procedure and was not failing to follow rules, lacking common sense, or inattentive when the injury occurred.
  • The injury was in the course of employment, which essentially means that it happened on the job.
  • The injury arose out of the employment, which means that the injury was caused by a risk or hazard directly related to employment. Often, when the issue is something like toxic exposure, repetitive motion injuries, or similar, there can be disputes as to whether the job and work environment directly led to the injury.

A partial settlement could also be awarded to a claim, which is when the employee would settle disability and wage loss benefits but would retain the right to receive future medical treatment.

Ohio workers’ comp state law for statute of limitations

For both workers’ compensation death benefits in Ohio and regular benefits claims, the statute of limitations is one year from the time of injury or death.

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