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Ohio House Bill 207 Brings Common Sense Reform to Ohio Workers' Compensation

Ohio House Bill 207 allows an employer whose employee is injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by a third-party to apply to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) to have that claim charged against the BWC Surplus Fund and not its experience.

This legislation provides a much-needed change to Ohio workers’ compensation law in subrogation situations where a motor vehicle accident is not the fault of the employee and could not be prevented by the employer.

Subrogation is an insurance principle whereby one party, typically an insurer, seeks reimbursement from the responsible, or “at fault,” party for a claim it has already paid. Prior to HB 207, when an employee was in a motor vehicle accident caused by a third-party, the employee filed a workers’ compensation claim and workers’ compensation medical and compensation paid benefits were after the claim was allowed.

These accidents, though the fault of a third-party, were then initially charged to the employer’s experience, until BWC determined that the claim was eligible for subrogation. Because of this added experience, businesses may not have qualified for a group-rating program and would likely have seen an increase in premiums. BWC would then seek reimbursement on behalf of the employer against the “at-fault” party or its insurance company and credit the employer the amount received.

HB 207 allows these types of claims, where a third-party is clearly at fault, to be initially charged to a separate BWC account rather than count against the employer. Certain criteria must be met for the claim to be charged to the surplus fund. An employer may request a BWC review for determination that the claim is to be charged to the surplus fund. This change will likely benefit employers by preventing them from losing eligibility for group-rating and other discount programs and from seeing large premium increases. Additionally, this provides incentive for BWC to aggressively pursue subrogation for these claims and recover as much as possible from the at-fault party. The responsible party is held also held accountable for paying the costs of the injury to BWC.

The bill creates a balance between the numerous interests involved in these types of accidents. It maintains the integrity of the state-fund by limiting this process to instances where there is clear fault to subrogate against; it protects employers from being unreasonably penalized due to motor vehicle accidents only which were not their fault and which they could not have prevented; and it also does not impact the treatment or compensation that injured workers receive for these types of injuries that occur during work.

The online General Assembly 131 (2015-2016) Status Report shows an effective date of August 31, 2016.

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