Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
On-the-job accidents can leave an employee on medical leave, and without income, for weeks or even months. Portsmouth Workers’ Compensation Attorney Angela Marinakis said there are things you should know, and do, if you are injured on the job.
“One thing that a lot of people don’t understand is, because the system setup the way that it is, allowing the bureau and employers to contest claims, often the claim doesn’t get established until several months after the injury. Sometimes that impedes a worker’s ability to recuperate, because while an appeal is filed they may have initial treatment, but if they need additional diagnostic testing or physical therapy, those requests have to be approved. If a claim is contested, it prolongs (the treatment),” Marinakis said.
She said even if you have health insurance — if you are injured on the job, insurance will not cover payment. It has to be referred to the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation (BWC).
Marinakis has been in practice for 19 years. She formerly worked in Columbus with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and later opened her own practice in Columbus, even while many of her cases came from southern Ohio. She moved to Scioto County about two years ago, when local referring attorney Richard Hunter left his Portsmouth practice. Now Marinakis operates from her law office located at 1625 Offnere St., in Portsmouth.
“This area has a lot of heavy-labor, so you’re going to see a lot of the typical injuries; the lifting injuries, the slips and falls. Those are the typical claims you’ll see. But a worker’s comp claim can arise not only out of that type of physical injury, but also out of a thing called an occupational disease,” she said.
Marinakis gave an examples of an occupational disease, including carpal tunnel or pulmonary diseases.
“You may have exposure to certain substances and then develop a condition from that exposure,” she said. “When I was with the Attorney General’s office back in the 90s, I spoke on asbestosis. I think we might see more claims being filed for that condition.”
According to Marinakis, the government began restricting the use of asbestos in the 1980s, but asbestosis can take about 40 years to begin showing its effects. Because of that delayed period, she said, there will be a lot of asbestosis claims popping up in the very near future.
Steve Buehrer, administrator and CEO for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, said the BWC offers a variety of grant programs to help employers improve their workplace safety by purchasing equipment to reduce or eliminate injuries and illnesses; covering the costs of implementing the a Drug-Free Safety Program; developing a transitional work program to return injured workers back to the workplace; and starting a workplace wellness program to improve the overall health and well-being of workers.
“Getting injured workers back to the workplace is a win-win for everyone. With that in mind, we provide transitional work and vocational rehab programs and services to Ohio’s employers,” Buehrer said. “Providing care and assistance in returning injured workers back to the workplace reduces costs and lowers premiums for employers and helps businesses succeed. Most importantly, it returns structure and stability to the lives of those injured on the job.”
If an employee is injured on the job, Marinakis said the employer has a responsibility to have that employee fill out an incident report for treatment. Many times, she said, if the hospital discovers the injury happened on the job, they will also provide those forms to the patient. She said it is important to document which body parts were injured.
“Injured workers may have questions about treatment, how to get paid for their time off from work, and that’s what our office assists them with. Our goal is to ensure that they get the proper treatment that they need so they can get back to work as soon as possible,” Marinakis said.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or firstname.lastname@example.org.