What to Expect


If you sustain a NEW INJURY at work, you should do the following:

  1. Notify your supervisor and submit a written incident report as soon as possible. If your employer does not issue a report form, or has not provided one to you, write down a description of your injury, copy it, and provide it to your boss and doctor.
  2. Obtain medical treatment as soon as possible, and provide an accurate description of the injury to your doctor.
  3. Contact your lawyer if you have one.


Any time there is a dispute in a Workers’ Compensation claim, whether it is about medical treatment, disability compensation, or to participate in the system itself, an Administrative hearing is scheduled at the Industrial Commission of Ohio. The Industrial Commission of Ohio is a separate agency, completely different from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. The BWC administers to claims, and the Industrial Commission is the adjudicatory arm of the Workers’ Compensation system. The Industrial Commission members are the “judges” that make decisions on Workers’ Compensation claims. They are “Administrative Law Judges” but are called Hearing Officers within the system. As such, it is wise to show them all the same respect and deference as you would a duly-elected court judge.

There are several Industrial Commission hearing offices throughout the State of Ohio, and most are associated with BWC Service Offices. If you are notified of a hearing it will be in writing, and will be at least fourteen days or more in advance of when the hearing date is scheduled. Hearings can be continued, but this must be done for “good cause” (you must have a good reason) and you must ask permission from the Hearing Administrator in either Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, or Toledo, depending on the office where the hearing is located. A request for a rescheduling of the hearing must be done within five days or more of the hearing itself, or you must do so at the hearing table in front of the Hearing Officer himself. If it’s done this way the Hearing Officer may or may not grant the continuance. Of course, if you get a Notice of Hearing you should contact your representative immediately. You should also review the Hearing Notice and double check the date, time, and place to make sure you can attend the hearing. You should also ask your attorney whether you should attend the hearing or not, as some hearings do not require your attendance. This is rare, however, and you should consult with your attorney on each hearing about which you are notified. You should also check the addresses that are listed on the Hearing Notice to make sure that all interested parties have received the proper notification. Sometimes the Industrial Commission will notify the wrong attorney, or will fail to include your representative on the Hearing Notice, or perhaps send it to a wrong address. This is why it’s a good idea to be sure and be in contact with your representative as soon as you receive the notice, and make sure everyone is on the same page.

In Dayton, the Industrial Commission hearing place is located in a different building as the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. They used to be in the same building as the BWC. Now the hearing place is over 20 miles away in Fairborn, Ohio and is on the first floor. The Industrial Commission hearing facility is on the third floor. When you go in to the hearing facility, you will be required to check in with the security guard and sign in. In some cases you may have to show photo I.D. It is always a good idea to bring the Hearing Notice with you for identification purposes as well. If you need confirmation in writing that you had attended the hearing (for school or employment purposes), the Industrial Commission will provide this for you upon request. If you need a translator because of language or hearing difficulties, this will also be provided to you at no cost by the Industrial Commission (but you must notify them in advance of this). Once you have checked in with the security guard, you can have a seat and wait for your representative to approach you. Eventually your name will be called over the loud speaker and you will directed what hearing room to go to. If your name is called and your attorney is not present, you should notify the Hearing Officer of this at once, and most of the time arrangements can be made to call the hearing at a later point in time in the hour. Workers’ Compensation hearings are scheduled like traffic court, in that they tell you to be there at a certain hour, but they tell several other people to be there at that same hour. They simply compile a list of people’s claims and “go down the list”. If you are “first at the hour” your claim will be called and heard at “the top of the hour” soon after the hour starts. If you are “last of the hour” it will be closer to fifteen to forty-five minutes in to the hour that your hearing will be called. There is no way to know what “position on the docket” your claim is until you get to the hearing on the date the proceedings are scheduled. Either way it always a good idea to arrive at the hearing at least fifteen to twenty minutes beforehand so that you can consult with your representative concerning your hearing.

Some hearings will require little or no testimony from you, while others may entail you speaking most of the time. In most cases your representative will do “most of the talking” and may ask you a question or two to confirm the facts, and/or arguments that have been made during the proceedings. There may be a lot of “legal mumbo-jumbo” discussed at the hearing that you don’t understand. Similarly there could be some medical terminology that is foreign to you as well. You should feel free to consult your representative before or after the hearing proceedings if there is anything you are concerned about, or if there is something you do not understand. Your representative is supposed to provide any and all information you need so that the hearing process is something you can understand and deal with. Feel free to ask them! Unfortunately, the Hearing Officers (the Judges) are not permitted to provide legal advice or give elaborate explanations as to the proceedings. So don’t try to ask them. They also have many other cases to deal with on any given day and their time is limited. This is why you should have a lawyer!

Critics have argued that the Industrial Commission hearings are much too brief, and many of the salient issues that should be argued are never addressed. Others have said that the lack of any formalized rules of procedure or evidence allow for hearings to become chaotic, or go off track. Other critics have noted that Hearing Officer may “not seem to care” or are very short, curt, and unpleasant during the proceedings. In the western Ohio region, most of the Hearing Officer’s do their best to provide you with your “day in Court” and will listen to your concerns and provide an arena for all parties to voice their concerns, state their positions and address the disputes properly. Workers’ Compensation Law does require that hearings be scheduled within a certain time frame, and that Administrative Orders be issued in a timely manner. In most cases after the hearing has concluded, the matter will be taken under advisement. Rarely is a decision ever announced at the hearing table these days in a Workers’ Compensation proceeding. This allows the Hearing Officer to review the situation one more time, consult their notes, and conduct whatever legal and/or medical research that is necessary in order to come to a decision. Usually, a written decision comes in the form of a yellow sheet of paper that is legal-sized and is entitled "Record of Proceedings". This comes in the mail within a few days or even a week or so after the hearing. Once you get this yellow sheet of paper, it is always a good idea to consult with your representative about this. Your representative will be able to tell whether the decision is favorable or not, and whether you should appeal the matter, which is your right under the Ohio Workers’ Compensation system. Similarly, your opponent has the right to appeal as well, and your representative can tell you whether you should expect this. In any case, you should always contact your representative on each and every yellow-colored "Record of Proceedings" you get.

In the Industrial Commission hearing process, there are three levels of review. Two levels are Administrative Hearing, and the Third is a “discretionary” review where the Industrial Commission can refuse an appeal without further proceedings. As such, most Workers’ Compensation claims that are disputed usually have just two hearings total on each issue, with a third “review” by the Industrial Commission in Columbus. This means a sense of decorum and order must be followed and the Industrial Commission does have certain rules to go by, however.

You must remember that the hearings are “quasi-judicial” in nature. Under Ohio Workers’ Compensation Law, the Rules of Evidence, and formal civil procedure elements are not employed. Thus, unusual situations can develop such as the acceptance of “hear-say evidence” or the submitting of documents that are not notarized, authenticated, or validated. This is not to promote chaos or a sense of unfairness for either side, but rather to stream-line the hearing process, and to make it easier for the parties involved.

In any event, you should always be courteous and respectful to the Hearing Officer, and tell the truth when asked any question. The Hearing Officer may make inquires of you, or the opposing side can ask questions as well, so be prepared to answer questions and to “be straight”, forthright, and upfront in your answers. Sometimes court reporters are used to preserve the record. Whatever happens in your hearing always be calm, courteous, and nice to everyone.

What you should do...


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Main Office: 545 Helke Road, Vandalia, Ohio 45377 | Phone: (937) 264-1122 | Fax: (937) 264-0888
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