Obstructing Workers' Compensation Settlements

Is it fair for the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation to dismiss a settlement application filed by an injured worker simply because the employer objects to the settlement, even though it has no valid reason to do so? Under Ohio Law, when five years have elapsed after the date of injury, the case passes out of the employer's experience. This means that the employer is no longer charged premiums for any benefits or medical expenses paid to the injured worker or paid on his or her behalf.

Therefore, the injured worker could be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars six years after the date of injury and the money would be paid out of the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation Fund at absolutely no cost whatsoever to the employer.

The representatives of the Ohio BWC can, in their wisdom and judgment, determine that it is in the best interests of the injured worker, the Fund itself, and the hundreds of thousands of other employers and workers throughout the State of Ohio to settle a claim. But, if the employer, for a good reason, or simply out of spite, objects, the settlement application must be dismissed. Sometimes this serves no purpose but to satisfy the desire of the employer to obstruct the process or to simply spite the injured worker.

This requirement in Ohio Law has been lobbied by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce to provide leverage for employers even in cases where it serves no legitimate purpose. The Ohio Legislature should modify Ohio Law so that employers who have no financial stake in the case may not obstruct the orderly processing of settlements by the parties who do in fact have a stake in the csse, namely, the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation and the injured worker.