What to Expect at Your Ohio BWC Hearing.

BWC hearings can be unfamiliar and anxiety provoking for injured workers. Attorneys often lose sight of this. Your hearing does not need to be an angst ridden experience.

My first suggestion is to review my post “Top 10 Things to Do at a BWC Hearing.” It contains ten common sense -- but often overlooked -- suggestions that are helpful not only for BWC hearings, but also any time you are called upon to give testimony.

For BWC hearings, it is important to recognize that your hearing is before the Industrial Commission of Ohio. Therefore, you should be aware of two things. First, where within the procedural framework is the hearing situated? There are three levels of hearings: district (or first) level, staff (or second) level, and Industrial Commission (or third) level. I often will tell clients to think of a district (or first) level hearing as a “rehearsal.” While it is nice to win (since compensation will usually follow), you will ALWAYS have another chance if you are unsuccessful. More import, if you win, then your employer will almost always appeal. If you lose, then you should always appeal. The lesson learned: there will always be another hearing regardless of the outcome and the first level hearing is a helpful window into the evidence both for and against your case.

Second, know what issue will be decided at your hearing. Often an injured worker will presume that every pending issue will be decided at their first hearing. This is seldom the case. Some hearings will determine whether an injury occurred on the job (an “allowance” hearing). Some hearings will decide the payment of a particular form of compensation. Other hearings will decide whether a certain form of medical treatment can be approved (an “authorization” hearing). The list goes on and on.

Personally, I take a dim view of the practice used by some attorneys who only meet with their client in the twenty minutes preceding their hearing. It creates anxiety and fails to afford an opportunity for a full and candid discussion. I like to discuss these issues at least a day or two prior to hearing via telephone. This affords my clients the opportunity to ask questions and to adequately prepare for the issues to be decided.

Proper preparation is essential to the successful outcome of your case.