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Hearings before the Industrial Commission

November 9, 2017

Sooner or later every injured worker is going to get a Notice of Hearing before the Industrial Commission of Ohio.

The Industrial Commission is the "Judicial Branch" of the workers compensation system. Any dispute that may arise between any of the parties to a claim, will typically end up before the Industrial Commission.

When an issue gets set to be heard before the Industrial Commission, all parties will receive a Notice of Hearing ( A long white sheet of paper) indicating the Place the hearing will take place, the time and date of the hearing, and then a small explanation as to what is going to be heard.

Who ever filed an appeal,  It the tk takes a few weeks to get the Notice of Hearing  When the hearing does go forward before the Industrial Commission, the party who filed the appeal will be asked to present their argument and position first. Then the opposing party will have an opportunity to present their evidence and explain why they should win,

The biggest shock to most injured workers in Ohio, is how FAST these hearings are; they are slated to run no longer than 15 minutes for the entire hearing. Usually hearings are less than 10 minutes long. Thus there is a VERY short period of time that allows the parties to present their evidence in a clean and precise manner and then to be prepared to rebut any point or argument raised by opposing counsel during their presentation.

What makes attending these hearings alone, without counsel so very difficult, is that each hearing Officer has his or her own sets of likes/dislikes and each hearing officer all have a favorite way of having issues presented; and hearing likes and dislikes of how arguments are made. Some are very much a "stickler" to the rules of evidence, whereas others,....are much more lenient.

Just because a BWC Order allows some treatment or allow a claim and amended, if the employer appeals a favorable decision to the injured worker, that BWC Order carries NO weight in the first Hearing. AND, the injured worker ALWAYS has the burden of proof to show that all criteria are met and presented in a way to that the IC Hearing Officer or ruling on that particular issue. Also, it is very rare to receive an answer from the Hearing officer at the end of a hearing; typically they will take the matter under advisement and all parties to the claim will again receive long yellow sheet of paper in 4-5 days of the hearing. Once a decision has been, the yellow IC Order will determine and explain who has won and who lost the argument.

Keep in mind; whoever did lose the hearing, that party does have an appeal of right. That party must appeal with 14 from RECEIPT of the first decision of the Industrial Commission.

Please note that it is imperative, that if you lose, an appeal HAS TO BE FILED, by the losing party, No one will file an appeal on your behalf to the First I.C. Order.

Once an appeal has been filed, an appeal hearing will be scheduled this time before an SHO. ( Staff hearing officer) This SHO hearing officer does not have to rely on the previous decision at all. This is a"De Novo" 0type hearing. A"do over" although you are NOT allowed to bring in new evidence, as needed to help support your case and vsa-versa.

The bottom line to this piece is that Hearings are a very, very important element in having a work related injury run as smooth as possible. It is ill advised to attend these hearings un-represented, since all the other parties to the hearing either are lawyers, or a hearing takers on behalf of an employer's representative. The only person sitting in the hearing room without counsel, with the most to loose, is the injured worker, Most of the decisions coming out of a hearing will have a significant impact on a claim.

That is why I strongly encourage any and all persons who have a workers compensation claim, to retain counsel. Dont Go it alone.

Your employer has counsel, Why don't you??

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