Two recent decisions by the Ohio Supreme Court may mean bad news for workers who suffer on-the-job injuries. Both cases - Kaminsky v. Metal & Wire Products Co. and Stetter v. R.J. Corman Derailment Services - were brought by employees who wished to recover compensation for injuries they had suffered while at work.
Both injured employees were able to collect workers' compensation, but a 2005 Ohio law prevented them from collecting further damages from their employers. Specifically, the law states that an employer is not liable to its employees for damages resulting from the employer's negligence unless the employer intended to injure someone or acted with the belief that someone was likely to be injured.
Both plaintiffs asked the court to find the law unconstitutional because it limits injured workers' right to sue their employers. According to their arguments, the Ohio constitution grants plaintiffs the right to have their day in court and does not give the Ohio legislature the power to limit that right. The court disagreed and ruled that the law is within the powers of the legislature, despite the limitations it places on the employees' rights.
An employee injured on the job in Ohio now faces an uphill battle if he or she seeks damages above and beyond workers' compensation. In short, employees will have to prove that it was more likely than not that their employers acted in a way intending for them to be injured. Alternatively, the employee can attempt to prove that, even though the employer did not intend an injury to occur, the employer acted with the knowledge that an injury was substantially likely to occur. This will prove to be highly difficult to prove in court and much more difficult to prove than just having to show that the employer was negligent.
If you or someone you love has been injured at work, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. A lawyer experienced in handling personal injury claims can provide you with the information you need to protect your rights.