Workers’ compensation in Ohio is different from most other states. In Ohio, being an employee does not categorically prevent you from filing a personal injury lawsuit against your employer. However, since workers’ compensation pays for many of your bills as well as lost wages, Ohio does place a threshold for this type of lawsuit, a standard that is even higher recently.
Ohio statute R.C. 2745.01, which became effective on April 7, 2005, allows employees to receive compensation in a personal injury lawsuit against their employers if the employee “proves the employer committed the tortious act [misconduct] with the intent to injure another or with the belief that the injury was substantially certain to occur” (Subsection A). It furthermore provides “As used in this section ‘substantially certain’ means that an employer acts with deliberate intent to cause an employee to suffer an injury, a disease, a condition, or death” (Subsection B). Steelworker Rose Kaminski challenged the statute, saying that it was unconstitutional because it violated the language of the State Constitution, which allowed the legislature to pass laws “providing for the comfort, health, safety, and general welfare of all employees.” The argument was that, by setting too high a standard for personal injury lawsuits against employers, R.C. 2745.01 did not provide for the “comfort, health, safety, and general welfare” of Ohio employees.
Although previous attempts to insulate employers from personal injury lawsuits have been overturned, the Ohio Court in May upheld this law. The Supreme Court quoted an earlier court of appeals opinion, stating, “an employee does not have two ways to prove an intentional tort claim as R.C. 2745.01(A) suggests. . . . the only way an employee can recover is if the employer acted with the intent to cause injury.” This, although we can all agree that this law is poorly written, it remains in effect, and the only way an employee can successfully bring a personal injury lawsuit is by showing a deliberate intent to cause injury.
If you have suffered a significant workplace injury and believe your employer meant to cause you harm, the workers’ compensation attorneys at Robert W. Kerpsack Co., LPA can help. Please call or email us today for a free consultation.