Testifying at a Hearing…When Less is More – Part 1: Who Can Ask You to Testify

At each and every workers’ compensation hearing that you attend there is the chance that you will have to provide some form of testimony. This testimony could come in the form of describing how your injury occurred or more simply answering questions asked by your employer’s attorney. Whether the hearing is at the Industrial Commission in Akron, Cleveland, Youngstown, or any other Ohio location, the same rules apply.

Who Can Ask You to Testify

Within a hearing room only three people are capable of asking you to testify, (1) your attorney, (2) an attorney who represents the employer, and (3) the hearing officer in charge of making a decision on your claim at hearing.

(1) Your Attorney

Your attorney will almost always ask you to testify at hearing unless they specifically advise you that your testimony is not needed. Typically, any testimony your attorney might ask you to provide at hearing will be reviewed with you before hearing. At most firms, attorneys meet you before the hearing and review with you the questions they are going to ask you in hearing so that you know what to expect. This review also helps your attorney know what to expect as well and enables them to plan accordingly for your responses in hearing. During any hearing process these questions may change as your attorney adapts their argument in the course of the hearing, but usually any questions reviewed with you before the hearing will be asked again at hearing

(2) The Employer’s Attorney

Much like your attorney, the attorney who represents your employer will typically ask you questions regarding the specifics of your claim. In addition to questions regarding your claim, they might also ask you questions concerning previous injuries, prior complaints or issues involving the same body parts at issue in the claim, or ask you if you engage in recreational activities outside the scope of your claim in order to determine if your accident at work is truly the cause of your injuries. Additionally, if your employer’s attorney is lacking information for your claim the questions they ask you might regard past medical doctors you treated with and past places of employment so that they can obtain information about previous workers’ compensation claims or injuries that might be affecting your current claim after the hearing.

(3) The Hearing Officer

A hearing officer typically asks clarifying questions regarding your claim. For instance, if you injured your low back lifting boxes at work they might ask you for the dimensions and weight of the box to determine if they think the box was heavy enough to injure your back. In addition, the hearing officer might ask you questions that they feel either your attorney or the employer’s attorney forgot to ask that the hearing officer feels are pertinent to the claim. Lastly, it is not out of the ordinary for a claimant to attend a hearing without ever being asked a question.

Who Cannot Ask You to Testify

Anyone who is not an attorney or the hearing officer for your hearing cannot ask you to testify. Therefore, if anyone other than the three individuals listed above attempts to ask you a question at hearing your attorney or the hearing officer should stop them from asking that question, and point out that it is illegal for them to do so. However, if the question seems to be a good one, the hearing officer may then pose the question to you.

 

Now that you know who can ask you a question, in our next article we will discuss what you should actually say at the hearing.

If you are going to an Ohio workers’ compensation hearing make sure to know your rights. Contact The Friedman Law Firm so that we can discuss your workers’ compensation claim and the hearing process.

By Kristin Cool

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