First off, if you actually clicked in to read this article, congratulations! You must be a dedicated workers’ compensation superstar. When the Supreme Court issued its decision last week in State ex rel. Witt v. Indus. Comm., my first thought was “who in the heck would want to read about that?”.
With that said, the issue of continuing jurisdiction CAN be exciting (or at least powerful). I mean, it literally kills claims! It can also keep that pesky claim that keeps sitting on your desk from suddenly spinning out of control.
Simply put, R.C. §4123.52, the continuing jurisdiction statute, does three main things. First, it gives the BWC and IC jurisdiction to make modifications of prior orders. Secondly, it prohibits the Industrial Commission from addressing any issues in claims where no medical benefits or indemnity compensation have been paid in over five years. Third, it prohibits the Industrial Commission from awarding compensation or medical benefits for a back period in excess of two years.
However, as the Ohio Supreme Court pointed out in Witt, it’s not always that clear cut. In Witt, the BWC issued a retroactive order, lowering an injured worker’s average weekly wage, and finding an overpayment from 17 years of compensation paid at a considerably higher rate. Obviously, the injured worker took issue with that.
The Supreme Court, however, held that the BWC could basically do whatever it wanted, whenever it wanted [that’s kind of an exaggeration]. What the Court actually said was that the BWC had continuing jurisdiction to fix its mistakes, and since the BWC had not filed an application with the Industrial Commission to correct the mistake, the two year limitation of R.C. §4123.52 did not apply.
There are other exceptions to the clear cut 5 year/2 year rule, but I’ll save those for another day, since I assume you’ve had enough fun for one day. Now, wasn’t that exciting………?