Countless small businesses soon may find that they have money coming back to them. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) has decided to settle a class action lawsuit alleging that the BWC, over the course of many years, had a system of group rating in place that improperly overcharged many Ohio businesses. A lower trial court originally ruled in favor of the plaintiffs with possible damages exceeding $800 million. While the ruling was upheld on appeal, the appeals court sent the decision back to the initial court to better address the issue of damages.
Now the BWC has agreed to pay out $420 million to those affected by the state agency’s practice of overcharging for workers’ compensation premiums between the years of 2001 and 2008.
To fulfill its obligation under the settlement agreement, the BWC said it will create a fund that will be specifically used to pay: claims made by employers found to be participants in the class action lawsuit, attorney fees, court costs, and costs associated with administering the fund. According to the settlement agreement, any unclaimed money will be returned to the bureau.
Can You Make An Ohio BWC Claim?
In order to make a claim, you must have been a private, non-group rated employer at some point during 2001-2008 who:
- Subscribed to the state workers’ compensation fund
- Was not group-rated
- Reported payroll and paid premiums in a manual classification for which the non-group effective base rate was “inflated” due to application of the group experience rating plan
Employers who were non-group rated for at least one policy year between 2001 and 2008 are eligible to claim a portion of the settlement. Eligible employers should be receiving a notice that indicated their status as class members and how to make a claim. A website where claim information can be submitting is currently under development.
Class members are required to submit their claims to Judge Robert McGonagle of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. Claims must be postmarked no later than Sept. 22, 2014. More information on this ruling can be found here. More details are coming, so stay tuned!
If you’re entitled to a portion of the BWC settlement, make sure you understand your rights and know how to follow the transaction process. If you’d like more information about how to claim what’s yours, email Rea & Associates and ask for information about this process.
Author: Joseph Popp, JD, LLM (Dublin office)
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