Most issues in a workers' compensation claim are decided at the Industrial Commission of Ohio in front of a single hearing officer. These hearings are informal and brief. However, many issues in a workers' compensation case can be appealed into the County Courts of Common Pleas and be set for trial in front of a jury.
Whenever a condition is at issue administratively (and administrative appeals have been exhausted), it can be appealed to court. Then, instead of a hearing officer making the decision on whether to allow or disallow a condition, a jury makes the decision. The jury answers a yes or no question regarding the right to participate in the workers' compensation system for that condition.
The court litigation process starts by the filing of a Notice of Appeal and Petition/Complaint on Appeal. Sometimes, a person’s condition is granted administratively and their employer files it into court by filing the Notice of Appeal. Regardless of who starts the court process, the claimant has to prove their case all over again. After the court case starts, the discovery process begins. The discovery process typically entails the answering of written questions known as “interrogatories” and providing documents in a “request for production of documents”. After written discovery is complete, depositions typically take place. A deposition is when a person is sworn under oath and answers questions while a court reporter is typing everything down.
After discovery, the parties typically explore settlement. The majority of workers’ compensation cases in court settle prior to ever going to Trial. Most courts require parties to pursue settlement. In the event the case does not settle, then other options may be reviewed. The other options include going to trial or delaying the case for one year. It is not always economically feasible to appeal every issue into the Courts of Common Pleas, but the lawyers at Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg aggressively pursue this right for their clients - something that cannot be said of MANY local workers' compensation attorneys.