Friday, June 23, 2006

Ohio Workers' Comp. legislation

With the passage of Senate Bill 7 back in March, Ohio has—“for the first time in nine years, or since the last referendum in 1997-- new substantive workers’ compensation legislation.” Cincinnati attorney George Wilkerson summarized some of the major points of the bill in the May/June issues of Workers’ Compensation Journal of Ohio.

As in 1997, a referendum challenging SB 7 has been filed with the Attorney General & Secretary of State’s Offices. The standing bill, however, still seems worthy of attention in so much as there have been significant changes in Ohio’s workers’ compensation law. (Information on both the 1997 and current referendums are available on Stewart Jaffy & Associates’ website @ )(Current OAG posted copy)

The holding in Bailey v. Republic Engineered Steels, five years ago, for instance, that, compensable injuries included those incurred “to an employee psychologically injured by causing or witnessing work-related injury to another” is cleaned up and clearer. [Relating to ORC § 4123.01 (C)(1)]

The new law legislatively countermands the Supreme Court’s 2002 ruling in State ex rel. Thomas v. Industrial Commission of Ohio, and revises the statutory definition of “permanent total disability” by listing factors that can’t be included for consideration. [Re. ORC § 4123.58(C) ]

Senate Bill 7 also reverses Schell v. Globe Trucking, returning to a former statutory description – i.e. a pre-existing condition must be substantially aggravated by an injury, and that aggravation has to be documented by objective diagnostic or clinical findings or test results. Subjective complaints without objective support is no longer sufficient. [ORC § 4123.01 (C)] [Schell v. Globe Trucking, 48 O St.3d 1, 548 NE2d 920 (1990)]

All else aside, the new law becomes effective June 30, 2006.

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