Injured at work?
Workers in Ohio who are injured on the job may be forced to rely on the appeals process to ensure much-needed benefits. If the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation denies an injured worker’s initial claim, the worker may file an appeal. The complex but important workers’ compensation appeals process has five different levels that can be utilized in certain cases. Each level provides some oversight and protection to provide an injured worker the chance to receive these important benefits.
First level appeal: the district
The first level of appeal will take the claim to the district level. A district hearing officer, or DHO, of the Industrial Commission of Ohio will hear the appeal within 45 days from the filing of appeal. The hearing is then held at the Industrial Commission office that is the closest to the injured worker. The DHO may issue a written decision, also known as order, which will be sent to the worker within seven days of the hearing. If an injured worker wishes to appeal from the DHO’s order, the worker can file a written notice of appeal within 14 days from the receipt of the DHO’s order.
The second and third levels of appeal
The second level is called the staff level. A staff hearing officer, or SHO, will hear the appeal. Much like a DHO hearing, a SHO hearing will take place within 45 days from the filing of the appeal. The SHO will request both the injured worker and employer to present witnesses and evidence to support their positions. The SHO may issue and send a written decision within seven days from the hearing.
The third level is referred to as the commission level. If an injured worker wishes to appeal from the SHO’s decision, he or she may file a written notice of appeal within 14 days from the receipt of the SHO’s decision. The Industrial Commission of Ohio will either hear the appeal or refuse to review the case. If the Industrial Commission decides to hear the appeal, a hearing will be scheduled within 45 days from the filing of appeal.
Each of these steps is extremely important for the worker and the process involves specific rules of timing and filing processes. It’s important for an injured worker to consult with a professional who can help the injured employee navigate the process. Once a claim has reached this point in the process, the worker may need to rely on the expertise of an attorney to help reach a favorable resolution to the process.
Ohio state courts: the fourth appeal level
The fourth level of appeal takes place in the Ohio State Courts. If an injured worker still wishes to appeal from the Industrial Commission’s decision or if the Industrial Commission refuses to review an injured worker’s third appeal, then he or she may appeal to the Ohio State Courts. The worker must file a written appeal within 60 days from the receipt of the Industrial Commission’s decision. Although Ohio law does not require an injured worker to be represented by an attorney, at this point in the appeal, representation by an attorney is most likely necessary for many injured workers.
The role of the Ohio Supreme Court: final level of appeal system
The final possible level of appeal in Ohio’s workers’ compensation system is an appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court. A review by Ohio Supreme Court is often discretionary, meaning that the Ohio Supreme Court may deny an injured worker’s request for review.
Injured workers who have been denied workers’ compensation should seek assistance from an attorney. The appeals process can be complex and arduous, but it’s important for an injured worker to fight for the benefits he or she is entitled to. An attorney with workers’ compensation experience is an essential element in working to ensure the best possible outcome in the claims and appeals processes.