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Tips & Tricks: Five Things to Know about the Ohio Industrial Commission Tips & Tricks: Five Things to Know about the Ohio Industrial Commission

Tips & Tricks: Five Things to Know about the Ohio Industrial Commission

The Ohio Industrial Commission (IC) is the agency responsible for hearing disputed workers’ compensation claims. While the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) is primarily responsible for collecting insurance premiums and paying claims, the Ohio IC is responsible for conducting hearings and making decisions related to disputed claim issues. 

There are three levels of hearings at the Ohio IC—district, staff, and commission. Each hearing level provides each side—claimant and employer—an opportunity to present their arguments. If dissatisfied with a District Hearing Officer (DHO) order, either party can appeal the decision to the next level—Staff Hearing Officer (SHO). If dissatisfied with a SHO decision, the parties can appeal to the full commission. While DHOs and SHOs are hired staff, the full commission is a three-member body appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Ohio Senate.

Here are five (of the many) things to know about the Ohio IC:

1. Hybrid hearings. The Ohio IC hosts hearings by WebEx, enabling the parties to appear remotely or in-person. Trick: If serving as a representative for the employer, be sure to upload your Waiver of Appearance to the claim file and state your waiver on the record.

2. File the defense medical packet. If your argument is related to a medical report from a doctor, whether an Independent Medical Evaluation (IME) or Independent Medical Review (IMR), it is essential that the medical packet the doctor relied on is filed to the claim file. Tip: If working with a third-party administrator (TPA) or a medical professional directly, request they send the “packet” of information they used to rely on for their opinion. Ensure that packet is filed and served to the claimant or their representative.

3. Timing is key. For most issues, the DHO and SHO appeal deadlines are due 14 days from the date the appealing party receives the DHO or SHO Order. Be sure to review the order for the correct appeal deadline. Trick: Use the “File Online” link for uploading a Notice of Appeal (IC-12) to the claim file, or access and file the fillable IC-12 Form.

4. Independent contractors are not employees. Most independent contractors are not permitted to participate in a workers’ compensation program. Tip: If the claimant is an independent contractor, and not an employee, be prepared to make arguments based on the Ohio BWC Independent Contractor/Employee Questionnaire

5. Hearings set on the hour. Typically, your DHO and SHO hearings are set for 20 minutes—meaning, for that hour, the hearing officer will likely have three separate hearings to hear. While all hearings for that hour are set at the top of the hour, your hearing might not be called first. Regardless, be on time. Trick: If you have a preliminary issue, or if your hearing will be “quick,” inform the hearing officer in an effort to conclude your hearing quickly. 

For more information about these tips and tricks, contact Amy Flowers or the Workers' Compensation lawyer with whom you most frequently work.

This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader's specific circumstances.
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