Ohio, like many other states, has a number of its major metropolitan areas on or within commuting distance of its border with another state. Therefore, residents of Ohio may engage in employment in a state other than the one in which they live (or vice versa), and, indeed, may suffer a workers’ compensation injury in that different state. This can be problematic for employers when deciding in which state their employees should be covered for workers’ compensation purposes, where a claim will be filed, and, more importantly, where the claim should be allowed
.In order to determine whether employment is sufficiently localized to Ohio (or any other state), Ohio courts generally consider the following factors:
(1) the place of contract of employment, supposedly carrying with it, as a part of the contract, the law of the state in which the contract was made; (2) the specific provisions of the [Workers’] Compensation Act of the state of the employer with reference to its extraterritor[i]al operation; (3) the state in which the employee’s name and pay are included in payroll reports submitted by the employer; (4) the place of accident; (5) the residence or domicile of the employee; (6) the place of the employee’s activities or performance of the work assigned; (7) the right of recovery outside of the state of employment; (8) the relation of the employee’s activities or performance of assigned work to the employer’s place of business, or situs of the industry; and (9) the place or state having supreme governmental interest in the employee, as affecting his social, business and political life.
(Prendergast v. Industrial Comm. of Ohio (1940), 136 Ohio St. 535, 543.)
The claim should be filed and allowed in whichever state has the most contacts. If the factors between Ohio and the other state are equal, Ohio courts will generally find for the employee and a filing in Ohio, as Ohio Revised Code § 4123.95 demands liberal construction of workers’ compensation laws in favor of employees and the dependents of deceased employees.
Ohio Revised Code § 4123.54(H)(1) does provide a means for an employer to avoid the issue of localized contacts by specifying which state’s workers’ compensation system is applicable for employees whose contracts were entered into outside the State of Ohio. (See Ohio BWC Forms C-110 and C-112.) This mechanism is useful to provide a measure of cost and containment certainty for an employer with employees in many different states.
As the nation’s workforce continues to diversify, become more mobile and, indeed, have the capability to telecommute to any state in the union, Roetzel & Andress will continue to provide guidance to employers on this topic. If you should have any questions with regard to the location of coverage of your employees or the location of a claim, please contact any of our offices to discuss this matter further with one of our workers’ compensation attorneys.