In the Ohio workers' compensation system, there are two separate entities responsible for the handling of workers' compensation claims. The Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) handles the processing of claims and premium payments by employers while the Industrial Commission (IC) resolves disputes between parties to a claim. The Commission resolves such disputes through its hearing process.
Hearings occur throughout the state in one of the Commission's twelve hearing locations. On most issues, the hearing process begins with a District Hearing Officer (DHO) listening to arguments presented by the parties to the claim. Within several days after the hearing, the DHO will issue an order which is then mailed to the parties and their representatives. The parties have the right to appeal the DHO's order and request a second level hearing. The second level hearing is held before a Staff Hearing Officer (SHO). Like the DHO, the SHO will listen to arguments from the parties and issue a similar order. An appeal to the SHO order may be filed. However, the appeal from the SHO order does not automatically result in a third hearing. Instead, the Commission has the discretion to hear the issue a third time. In most situations, the order of the SHO will be final.
Throughout the hearing process, the majority of hearings will take approximately ten to fifteen minutes. The hearing officers at all levels have access to a database of medical documents and other evidence pertaining to a given claim. As an injured worker, you and your representative will receive notice of each hearing as the hearing process moves from one round to the next.