An Employer's Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Ohio

Learn the basics about workers’ compensation insurance coverage and claims for an Ohio business owner.



Most Ohio businesses with employees are required to pay for workers’ compensation insurance (WC or workers’ comp insurance). The insurance provides compensation to employees who suffer work-related injuries. Here are some basic facts that you need to know about workers’ comp insurance in Ohio as a business owner and employer.

Who is Required to Have Workers’ Comp Insurance?

If your Ohio business has just one employee, you’re generally required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. There are exceptions for:

  • workers in your home such as cooks, gardeners, housekeepers, and babysitters, who earn less than $160 per calendar quarter; and
  • most volunteer workers.

In addition, business owners, such as sole proprietors, partners in partnerships, and members of limited liability companies, are not required to be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. You can find more information here.

Who Administers Workers’ Comp Insurance in Ohio?

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) is the primary state agency that handles workers’ comp claims. Most of the law for WC insurance is contained in Ohio’s Workers’ Compensation Act (Chapter 4123 of the Ohio Revised Code). In addition to the Act, there are also administrative rules that cover workers’ compensation in Ohio.

Where Can You Get Workers’ Comp Insurance?

Ohio is one of four states where workers’ compensation insurance is provided through the state itself rather than through private insurance companies. You can apply for WC insurance from the state by completing the BWC’s Form U-3, Application for Ohio Workers’ Compensation Coverage, online. There is a minimum $120 application fee. Apart from coverage through the state, there is also an option to self-insure, but this may not be advisable for smaller businesses, in part because it requires that a lot of money be set aside to cover potential claims.

What Steps Should You Take if an Employee Gets Hurt?

Apart from getting medical care, the injured employee should notify you of his or her injury. The employee, the employee’s medical provider, your business’s managed care organization, or you as the employer must report the injury or accident to the BWC. This initial report, a Form FROI, First Report of an Injury, Occupational Disease or Death, An injury report can be filed on paper or online.

Beyond filing the initial report, there are also subsequent steps to the WC claims process, not covered here.

What If You Don’t Believe Your Employee Has a Valid Claim?

You can reject an employee’s workers’ comp claim. Otherwise, the BWC makes an initial decision about the claim. If you either reject the claim or wish to dispute the BWC’s decision, the dispute initially will be referred to the Industrial Commission of Ohio (IC).

The IC is a state agency specifically intended to resolve WC disputes through a series of hearings. There can be as many as three levels of hearings, depending on how far you or the employee wishes to appeal the matter. The first hearing is held before a district hearing officer (DHO) within 45 days after you appeal a BWC order. The second hearing is held before a staff hearing officer (SHO) if you or the employee appeals the DHO decision. The third hearing is held before the IC Commissioners’ Panel if you or the employee appeals the SHO decision.

Beyond IC hearings, you can appeal decisions to the Ohio state courts, starting with the Court of Common Pleas, then to Appellate Court, and ultimately to the state Supreme Court.

What If You Don’t Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

If you don’t carry workers’ compensation insurance you may be subject to various penalties. For example, if an employee makes a claim to the BWC while you are without coverage, and the BWC accepts the claim, you must reimburse the BWC for all costs. In addition, the injured worker can sue you directly for all damages and expenses related to the injury. Still further, if you fail to make timely premium payments to the BWC, you may have to pay other penalties that could be as much as 15% of the premium amount. There are also penalties for failing to file required payroll reports with the BWC on a timely basis. Check this BWC webpage for more information.

Additional Information

There are many other workers’ compensation requirements for Ohio employers that are not covered here such as putting up posters about workers’ compensation coverage where employees can see them. For more information, see the Nolo website section on workers’ compensation and the BWC’s online guide for employers and employees.

Talk to a Lawyer

Need help? Start here.

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you
NEED PROFESSIONAL HELP ?

Talk to a Business Law attorney.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you