While some Ohioans who suffer workplace injuries or a medical condition from their work will be approved for workers' compensation benefits, others will have their claims denied by the Bureau of Workers' Compensation and it is necessary to file an appeal. Simply being denied at the outset does not mean that the applicant will not be awarded benefits eventually. Understanding the claims hearing process and all of its aspects is imperative to receiving workers' compensation after a denial. When appealing a workers' compensation claim, the worker will have three levels in which to do so. The three levels are the district hearing officer, staff hearing officer and the commission.
At the district level, the appeal will be heard by an Industrial Commission of Ohio district hearing officer. This hearing will be held within 45 days of the appeal being filed. After a decision has been made, the worker and others involved in the case will receive written notice. If the district hearing officer denies the claim, the worker can then appeal to a staff hearing officer. This must be done within 14 days of the decision.
At the staff level, the hearing will be held within 45 days of the previous decision at the district level. Both sides will present their case with evidence and witnesses. After a decision is made, there will be 14 days to appeal to the commission. The commission can agree to hear the claim or decide not to hear it. If it agrees, this will be held within 45 days of the appeal. For those who would still like to move forward after a denial by the commission, it is possible for the worker to go before the Court of Common Pleas. This can be done after all the other appeal options have been exhausted. This hearing will be held within 60 days of the decision by the IC.
At the IC hearing, evidence related to the case, medical information, witness statements and any other information that could be deemed relevant should be provided. While it is not a requirement to have legal representation at the hearing, those who are confronted with a denial of their workers' compensation request at any level would be advised to have legal help from an attorney who is experienced in helping clients get workers' compensation benefits. Contacting a law firm that is skilled with workers' compensation can be the key to getting benefits one is entitled to.
Source: bwc.ohio.gov, "Claims Hearing Process," accessed on March 5, 2018