As part of the Ohio state government, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) offers workers’ compensation insurance to Ohio employers and employees. The BWC’s responsibility is to process claims filed by injured workers or by employers on behalf of their employees. If you suffer an injury at work, the BWC will decide if you are eligible for benefits such as medical care, wage replacement or disability compensation.
If the BWC denies your claim, you are not out of options—you can appeal that decision. However, it is important to understand the appeal process and be prepared for it.
Appealing to the right agency
If you disagree with the BWC’s decision on your claim, you can appeal through the Industrial Commission of Ohio (IC). The IC is an independent agency, separate from the BWC, whose role is to review and settle worker compensation disputes. But remember, time is of the essence. If you want to appeal, you must send the IC a written notice of appeal within 14 days of the BWC’s decision.
The first level of appeal
After you contest the BWC’s decision on your workers’ compensation claim, the first level of appeal involves a hearing with an IC district hearing officer (DHO). They will hold the hearing within 45 days of filing. While there are 12 district hearing locations throughout Ohio, the IC will schedule your hearing at the IC customer service office nearest to where you live.
Preparing for the proceedings
There are five levels of appeal in the workers’ compensation system in Ohio, ranging from the DHO all the way to the Appellate Court. However, to potentially avoid advancing through all these levels, thorough preparation of your case from the start is vital. This preparation may include keeping copies of all your correspondence with the BWC or your employer, understanding the appeals process, monitoring the status of your appeal and complying with any orders or deadlines.
It matters to get your appeal right the first time. Given that going through the workers’ compensation system can seem intimidating, it is essential to be thoroughly prepared. Such preparation can not only save you time but also significantly improve your chances of a successful appeal.