Reform-minded legislators were hard at work this year in Columbus. The 132nd Ohio General Assembly approved at least one significant workers’ compensation reform measure. The statute of limitations for an injury or death claim has been changed to require injured workers to file their application for benefits within one year, instead of the current two year timeframe. To be sure, the vast majority of workers’ compensation claims are filed within days or weeks of an alleged injury. This code modification takes effect 91 days after the budget bill is filed with the Ohio Secretary of State, making the new one year statute applicable to claims arising on or after the effective date of the legislation (which, in this case, would be early October 2017).
The two year injury statute of limitations under Ohio Rev. Code Sec. 4123.84 has controlled for close to 100 years. The new statute of limitations applies to injury and death claims only. It does not apply to occupational disease claims or VSSR applications. The reduction in the statute of limitations may have the anticipated impact of reducing claim filing. And, at least by initiating an injury claim within a one year timeframe, employers will get the benefit of more efficient application processing, prompter investigations and swifter claims resolution. Hopefully, this statutory change will result in the elimination of more questionable, stale claims and provide cost savings to Ohio employers.