Supreme Court Holds Workers' Comp Hearing Officers' Feet to the Fire
Administrative hearings dominate the workers' compensation scene. When an issue arises in an Ohio BWC claim, it is frequently battled out in a hearing room at the Industrial Commission. Here there are two levels of hearings: District and Staff.
Both District and Staff level hearing officers issue written orders that explain decisions. They are to match the facts to the law and provide the rationale for the decision. It is critical that the hearing officers base their decisions upon correct facts and correct law. This is beneficial to employers and injured workers both. Recently, in State ex rel. Ruscilli Constr. Co., Inc. v. Indus. Comm., 132 Ohio St.3d 18, 2012-Ohio- 1588, the Ohio Supreme Court lashed out at a hearing officer's decision that was based upon both mistakes in law and in fact. The decision is a good common sense reminder that nothing short of an accurate understanding of the factual circumstances of an injury, along with an accurate understanding of the applicable workers' compensation laws, should be tolerated in an Industrial Commission decision. Injured workers and employers alike deserve well informed legal minds at the helm administratively, particularly because this is where much legal action occurs.
Written by Andrew Tobergte