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Do You Have to Go to Court When You Appeal a Workers’ Compensation Denial?

June 20, 2022

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It’s no secret that getting workers’ compensation benefits after an on-the-job injury isn’t always easy. It’s especially difficult if you apply without the help of an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. More than 10% of first-time applicants get denied for benefits, and it’s often due to minor mistakes, omissions, and oversights during the application process.

Thankfully, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) allows injured workers a chance to appeal its decision if they are initially denied. At this point, many applicants turn to lawyers to help them complete their appeals and increase their chances of getting the benefits they need.

However, some applicants worry about how to proceed once a lawyer is involved, and if they will need to go to court.

Your Appeal Will First Be Reviewed at an Ohio Industrial Commission Hearing

If your workers’ compensation claim is denied and you decide to move forward with an appeal, the BWC will forward your appeal to the Ohio Industrial Commission (IC) and a hearing will be scheduled at the IC office closest to your home. These hearings are informal and aren’t like going to court or attending a trial. However, the BWC encourages people who are appealing a denial to attend these hearings themselves, even if they have legal representation.

At your IC hearing, all involved parties will have a chance to present evidence and information that supports their position. That means your attorney can answer any questions about your application and clarify any misconceptions or misinformation about your injury, including where it occurred and how it affects your ability to work.

There are multiple levels of IC hearings. First, they involve district hearing officers presiding over the decisions. If unsuccessful, applicants can again appeal the IC’s decision and have their appeals heard by staff hearing officers. And if this step is also unsuccessful, applicants can appeal all the way up to IC commissioners. If you have questions about the process or the strength of your injury claim, contact our firm for a free case evaluation.

If You Appeal the IC’s Decision, You Will Go to Court in the County Where You Were Injured

Most injured workers’ appeals settle at their IC hearings. However, not all do. When applicants are denied benefits at all levels of their IC hearings, they can appeal that decision, too. At this point, their appeals will be heard at the court of common pleas in the counties where they suffered their on-the-job injuries.

Unlike IC hearings, these court dates are much more formal. In addition, they essentially require representation by an experienced Ohio workers’ compensation lawyer, as they move away from the jurisdiction of the BWC and the IC and more into the realm of Ohio state law.

Some Denials Can Be Appealed All the Way to the Ohio Supreme Court

When injured workers have their appeals denied by their local county court of appeals, they have one final option: appealing the decision to the Ohio Supreme Court. However, this is extremely rare and it’s up to the Ohio Supreme Court to decide whether to even review the case. When it refuses to review an injured worker’s appeal, that’s typically the end of the line for their claim.

We Work Hard to Get Our Clients’ Applications Approved Quickly and Efficiently

At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, we have a team of experienced and aggressive trial lawyers. We aren’t afraid of going to court to get our clients the outcomes they deserve. However, we also work hard to avoid going to court whenever possible so our clients can get the compensation they need faster and not get dragged through even more hoops.

When injured workers reach out to us about their workers’ compensation claims, we work hard to get them approved quickly and for maximum benefits. We also know how to successfully appeal claims that have already been denied. And if the appeal process doesn’t work in its initial steps, we don’t hesitate to continue escalating our clients’ cases, even if it means going to court.

After a work injury, don’t risk losing the benefits you’re owed or wasting time on an appeals process that you can’t win on your own. Contact our experienced Ohio workers’ compensation lawyers today for a free consultation.

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