SFM: New Ohio House Bill Makes it Harder for Injured Employees to Sue

May 9, 2005

As of earlier last month, injured Ohio employees will reportedly find it harder to have “their day in court.”

Through the recent passage of Ohio House Bill 498, changes will occur to the current state of employee liabilities in the case of workplace injury. In response, Smith-Feike Minton, Inc. (SFM) is advising businesses to closely review their current employee
liability insurance to alleviate any gaps in coverage as this new law comes into fruition.

Ohio House Bill 498 redefined for employees and employers what injuries are “substantially certain to occur.” Injured employees will now have to prove “actual intent from employer” if an employee plans to sue an employer. This bill also reportedly intends to eliminate double recovery from the same workplace incident, which prevents an injured employee from benefiting from both workers’ compensation and intentional tort actions.

Most employers’ liability coverage will exclude coverage if the act was
committed with the deliberate intent to injure. Current policies will exclude coverage based on the new definition of “substantially certain to occur” regardless if the employer paid the premium.

Since this new bill reportedly puts employees at a greater disadvantage for suing their employer for workplace injury, SFM predicts that Ohio House Bill 498 will be challenged in the Supreme Court of Ohio as many similar bills have.

If HR 498 is challenged and found unconstitutional, employer/employee liability law will go back to its original codes before HR 498 existed.

If this happens, employers who drop their employers liability coverage
will reportedly experience a gap in coverage as the law transitions back, thus, Brian Smith, president of SFM, is advising, “To guarantee the security of employer/employee coverage in the case of workplace injury, businesses should immediately review with a licensed agent their current coverage to prevent any gaps in coverage as HR 498 goes into full effect or is reversed.”

More information can be accessed at http://www.sfminsurance.com.

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