How to Prepare for a Workers’ Compensation Hearing
Heading to a workers’ compensation hearing? The thought of attending a hearing can be intimidating, but the good news is that workers’ compensation hearings in Ohio are very different from other types of hearings held in common courtrooms. Workers’ compensation hearings are informal in nature and take place in a small room with few people present. A hearing gives you the opportunity to dispute a decision made regarding your workers’ compensation claim.
When You Should Request a Hearing
If you are injured on the job due to an accident or repetitive work activity, notify your employer immediately, fill out an accident report, and file an application for workers’ compensation benefits with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC). A customer service specialist (CSS) from the BWC will be assigned to your claim. In Ohio, employers are either state-fund or self-insured. For state-fund claims, the CSS makes an initial decision to allow or deny your claim. If you or your employer disagrees with the decision made by the CSS, you can appeal the decision to the Industrial Commission (IC) of Ohio, which is the adjudicatory branch of the workers’ compensation system. A hearing is typically scheduled within 45 days of your appeal.
For self-insured claims, the employer makes the initial decision regarding the claim and subsequent decisions concerning additional allowances. If you or your employer have a dispute regarding your claim, either one of you can request a hearing before the IC by filing a Motion (C-86) with the BWC. Once the CSS receives an appeal or a motion for a hearing, it could take up to three months for a hearing to be scheduled.
The IC is responsible for dispute resolutions and employs hearing officers who make decisions regarding contested workers’ compensation matters in regional BWC offices. Typical issues that are discussed in hearings at the IC include the following:
- Initial injury allowance
- Additional allowance requests
- Payment of bills
- Treatment requests
- Payment of temporary total disability compensation
Hearings are held at the IC office closest to your residence. You will receive notice of the hearing at least 14 days in advance. You’re not required to have an attorney, but you may choose to hire an attorney or other authorized person to represent you. Many hearings are brief, lasting only a few minutes, though some last as long as a half-hour or more. It is rare for a decision to be announced at the hearing table. In most cases, the hearing officer reviews the claim again afterwards prior to making a decision.
Tips for Preparing for a Hearing
Injured workers and employers should bring all evidence related to the claim, such as medical records, written statements from witnesses, and other documentation. Be prepared to provide two copies of your reports – one for the hearing officer and one for the opposing party. Keep the originals for yourself. It’s also a good idea to bring your photo ID and hearing notice along for identification purposes.
There may be a lot of legal and medical jargon used at the hearing that is difficult for a layperson to understand. Because hearing officers aren’t allowed to provide legal advice or give you detailed explanations regarding proceedings, it can be really helpful to have an Ohio workers’ compensation attorney by your side to provide guidance and advice.
Hire an Ohio Workers’ Compensation Attorney to Represent You
At Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman, we take pride in protecting our clients’ rights to obtain compensation after an accident at work. If your claim for workers’ compensation benefits has been denied or the benefits you’re receiving are inadequate, you have the right to request a hearing before the IC. Please call 800.678.3318 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. We have offices in Columbus, Circleville, Chillicothe, Jackson, Cincinnati, Dayton, Galion, and Delaware.