In the most recent Annual Fiscal Report from the Ohio BWC, 2016, ( www.bwc.ohio.gov/downloads/blankpdf/AnnualReport.pdf) I read a statistic that was rather alarming.
In this Annual report it shows that the number of Hearing before the Industrial Commission of Ohio was 127,144, statewide.
The Industrial Commission is the "Judicial Branch" of the Ohio BWC process. Any disputes that arise amongst any party to a claim, has a right to file an appeal into the Industrial Commission. According to the 2016 Annual Fiscal Report:
"The DHO hearing volume accounted for 70 percent of the overall hearings during FY 2016 at 89,143 claims heard, while the SHO volume recorded 37,845 claims heard. Deputy venue reported 58 claims heard in FY 2016, while the Commission venue recorded 98 claims heard. Total claims heard are inclusive of continuances, referrals, dismissals and other final determinations made because of a hearing."
This statistic tells me that a large number of injured workers, not completely understanding the system that is the Ohio BWC and the Industrial Commission, may attend the first hearing before a DHO ( District Hearing Officer), but for some reason less than half make it the appeal hearing before a SHO (Staff Hearing Officer). Now, there may be many reasons for this, but I believe the main reason is the lack of general knowledge that the injured workers of Ohio have when it comes to these hearings, and they may not know how to file an appeal; or may not know what evidence is needed at the appeal SHO level. Additionally, injured workers get quickly overwhelmed by the process. And simply let the issue go. I strongly advise against letting any issue go; Every Injured Worker in Ohio has rights, please don't squander them by being intimidated by the system and the process. Higher a well qualified attorney who knows the System!
I tell ALL my clients, and if I could I would shout it out on every street corner in Ohio; Any hearing before the Industrial Commission is a VERY tricky and complicated process. Every other party to an injured workers BWC claim has counsel, in some form or another. The employer has either legal counsel or at the very least a Hearing Representative that argues on behalf of the employer. The BWC has attorneys that will ONLY show up when the "interests of the BWC" are at stake; i.e. when an issue before the Industrial Commission may cost the BWC money. These BWC attorneys NEVER come into a hearing to help the injured worker. And, the Hearing Officers themselves are all attorneys, with vast experience and knowledge of what the requirements are to allow or deny the issue before them,
Any injured worker who attends a hearing before the Industrial Commission, is more than likely going to be run over by all the other parties that know the system, inside and out and know what to argue and what NOT to argue. And the real kicker is, all these Hearings before the Industrial Commission are ONLY 15 minutes long. that time is allotted for ALL parties to speak and argue the issue(s).
Do not let anyone attend a HEARING before the Industrial Commission with our having an attorney on THEIR SIDE; as I often say, Your employer and the Bureau of Workers Compensation and the Hearing officers themselves are either attorneys or have easy access to attorneys; WHY DON'T YOU?