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Ohio widow appeals workers' compensation denial

The state's workers' compensation system is a system of reassurance both for employees and employers. The system covers injury-related expenses for employees involved in a workplace accident. The system also deters additional civil lawsuits against an employer if the employer provides workers' compensation coverage.

But, reassuring or not, employers have the option to deny a workers' compensation claim. Employers can argue that the type of injury isn't covered or that the injury did not occur during the course of employment. If there is negligence on the part of the employee, an employer may try to deny the claim for compensation.

The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation recently denied death benefits to the widow of a local fire chief. The widow first appealed the denial to the Ohio Industrial Commission. When the commission refused to hear the case, she appealed to the Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

The widow claimed that her husband died of cardiac arrest after he responded to three fire emergencies. The lawsuit alleges that the death occurred during the course of employment with the Canfield Fire Department.

The BWC officer who overheard the case found that the fire chief's death did not occur from an occupational disease. The officer pointed to the man's death certificate. The certificate stated cardiac arrest as cause of death but that cardiac arrest was the result of spreading kidney cancer, which caused gastrointestinal bleeding.

The case demonstrates how not all workers' compensation claims are open and shut cases. Employers don't always want to pay and may go to extreme measures to avoid compensation. The claimant, or injured party, has the burden of proof and here the widow had to show by a preponderance of the evidence that her husband's death was the result of a work-related disease.

Because of this high burden of proof, injured employees or their family members should get all of the right information in order to make sure that they get the compensation deserved. If the workers' comp claim is denied, a civil lawsuit against the employer to recover damages for the work-related injury or death may be an option.

Source: The Vindy, "Fire chief's widow appeals Workers' Comp denial," Sept. 11, 2013

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