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How to win your Ohio Workers Comp Hearing
If you have a work injury in Ohio you will most likely end up at the Industrial Commission which governs disputes between injured workers, employers, and the bureau of workers comp in Ohio. Any time there is a disagreement between what you or your doctor want for your case and what your employer and/or workers comp thinks you should have – you will end up in front of a hearing officer at the Industrial Commission. These hearings consist of everything from initial allowances (approvals) of claims, to requests for treatment, to request for compensation while you are not working, to partial and permanent impairment ratings.
Hearings usually last from 10 to 30 minutes. Sometimes they can run longer if they are on the allowance of the claim or on an complex issue or one that is highly contested by the employer. Your attorney will prepare you before the hearing for the questions that will be asked of you. Your attorney will begin speaking at the hearing and ask you specific questions that he wants the hearing officer to know. Some hearings are very fact specific such as how the accident happened. Other hearings are more of what your doctor says about your injury compared to what the workers comp doctor or employer’s doctor says and you might not need to speak too much.
Try to make eye contact with the hearing officer. They need to see you are serious about your injury. You must also remove any hat when in the hearing room. You want to dress respectfully (no jeans or t-shirts).
Sometimes we think that the “scales of justice are blind” and that all judges or hearing officers are equally just. This just isn’t the case. Some are more biased to employers and some are more favorable to injured workers. Your attorney will know prior to the hearing which side your hearing officer sides on.
Always tell the truth when the employer’s lawyer or the hearing officer ask you questions about your injury and how the work accident. They will want to make sure what you say in the hearing matches what you said in the medical records, incident report, and the first report of injury.
Let your attorney know if there are any mistakes in your first report of injury or in the emergency room records. Sometimes an incident report is filled out and it is slightly different than what is put on the first report of injury and different than what the hospital writes down in the emergency room records. Although it may be a slight discrepancy, the hearing officer could see it as inconsistent and that things just don’t add up.
Only answer the question that is asked to you and answer it as directly as possible. Do not answer more than what was asked and do not volunteer information. If the hearing officer asks a yes or no question – you should answer yes or no.
Hearing officers do not want to hear stories of work gossip, discrimination, or how other coworkers are injured on the job. They are only concerned about you, your injury, and your work accident.