Ohio Supreme Court Issues Workers’ Compensation Decision

Last week, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld an Ohio statute that limited injured workers’ ability to bring lawsuits against employers.

The court considered two related cases which challenged the constitutionality of a 2005 state law that placed restrictions on the types of intentional torts lawsuits that workers could file while simultaneously collecting workers’ compensation benefits. The court ultimately ruled that the law passed constitutional muster.

As explained this Plain Dealer article:

The rulings mean injured workers — who remain entitled to receiving workers’ compensation benefits through the state — will have a much more difficult time bringing injury cases against private employers.

The court analyzed the competing interests in its decision:

As this court has often recognized, workers’ compensation laws are the result of a unique mutual compromise between employees and employers, in which employees give up their common-law remedy and accept possibly lower monetary recovery, but with greater assurance that they will receive reasonable compensation for their injury. Employers in turn give up common-law defenses but are protected from unlimited liability.”

Illinois law is similar to the law upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court regarding the ability of workers to seek redress from employers for workplace injuries. Years ago, the Illinois legislature reached a similar conclusion after balancing the public policy considerations with the end result being that Illinois employees are generally limited to recovery for work-related injuries via workers’ compensation laws.