At Last! Relief for Ohio Companies Doing Business in Multiple States
Kegler Brown Labor + Employee Relations Newsletter August 1, 2008
The Ohio Legislature recently fixed a problem that has been plaguing Ohio employers for a long time.
For many years, companies doing business in Ohio and other states have been frustrated by the fact that some of their employees could obtain workers’ compensation for a single injury in more than one state. Many states employ a “minimum contacts” analysis to determine whether the claim has a sufficient connection to the state in order for benefits to be awarded. If, for example, an injured worker was supervised, controlled and paid out of Ohio but was injured while working on an extended project in Kentucky, that employee could obtain coverage in both states. While the laws do provide for an offset of benefits, the injured worker could obtain the best coverage from each state, to the disadvantage of the employer.
On June 11, 2008, Governor Strickland signed Senate Bill 334, which will do away with this abuse. Among other things, the new law will require that an employee, at the time of filing of a claim application, waive the right to file a claim for the same injury in another state, and attest that he or she has not received benefits for the same claim in another state. The law will prohibit an employee who receives a decision on the merits of a claim for Ohio workers’ comp benefits from filing a claim in another state. Likewise, an employee who receives a decision on the merits of a claim for benefits in another state is prohibited from filing a claim in Ohio. As a punitive measure, the Bureau or the self-insured employer can collect any costs, including attorneys’ fees, incurred in contesting an employee’s attempt to collect benefits in more than one state for a single injury. Finally, the new law requires that the Bureau make available to employers “other states’ coverage” to avoid the risk that an Ohio employer, with employees temporarily working outside the state, be found to be “non-complying” and subject to dollar-for-dollar liability for injuries incurred in those other states.
Senate Bill 334 will become effective and applicable to all claims with dates of injury on or after September 9, 2008.