Workers' Compensation Hearings - What to Expect

Hearings Before the Ohio Industrial Commission

The workers’ compensation system can be complicated, time-consuming, and stressful. In addition to all the paperwork, there are hearings for just about everything. While not an exhaustive list, you may have a hearing to allow your claim, to get a medical treatment authorized, and to get different compensation awards, like a temporary total disability award or a permanent partial disability award. (See Blog from July 1, 2014). Understandably, you may have a lot of questions. Here are answers to a few of the more common questions.

What can I expect at my upcoming workers’ compensation hearing?

Hearings before the Industrial Commission are informal. Unlike a trial, witness testimony is limited and not under oath. Witness examinations are short, and there are very few objections. Since all the paperwork is filed on-line, it is not common to have exhibits. In fact, hearings are more like presentations where each side is given a few minutes to state his or her reasons for whatever is being requested.

When should I arrive?

We suggest that you arrive a half hour early. It can take time to find parking, go through security, and get checked in at the registration desk. It is also nice to have some time before the hearing to talk to your attorney. We don’t like to call out your name in the lobby like other attorneys. Instead, we like to greet you, sit down, and talk.

How should I dress?

There is no strict dress code. You should dress so that you are comfortable. Of course, keep in mind, we are trying to make a good impression. While hearing officers decide cases based on the facts and the law, how you present yourself may make a difference.

How long will the hearing last?

Most hearings last less than fifteen minutes. Hearing officers carry heavy caseloads. It is not uncommon for a hearing office to have four to six cases in an hour. Therefore, it is important to be on time, be brief, and make a favorable impression.

What is the difference between a District Hearing and a Staff Hearing?

Whenever there is a contested issue, the first hearing to resolve that issue will be held before a District Hearing Officer. The party that does not prevail can file an appeal. The case is then scheduled for a hearing before a Staff Hearing Officer. The Staff Hearing Office does not have to rely on the decision issued by the District Hearing Officer. Essentially, the hearing is a “do over” where the issue is freshly examined.

Can I also have a hearing before the Commissioners at the Industrial Commission?

Yes. While not common, a three-member panel may decide to hear arguments. More often than not, though, appeals before the full Industrial Commission are determined based on the documents already submitted.

Do I need to attend all the hearings?

No. Some hearings, like hearings to determine a permanent partial disability, don’t necessarily require your participation because the issue may be determined by comparing reports submitted by the medical experts.

When will I find out the results?

While the results are mailed out to the party about three days after the hearing, it is possible to check the status of your case on-line. Some decisions are posted that same evening as the hearing.

Of course, you may have many other good questions. The attorneys at Zamora law are available to help because we care.
Related Posts
  • Recent Court Ruling: Implications for Injured Workers Read More
  • Mistakes to Avoid When Filing a Workers' Comp Claim Read More
  • Your Work Injury Claim is Allowed - Do You Still Need an Attorney? Read More