The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) might declare—based on recommendations from its doctors and vocational experts—that you're no longer able to work, but it will be up to the Ohio Industrial Commission (IC) to determine your eligibility for permanent total disability benefits (PTD). The IC isn't bound by the BWC’s decision and may well deny your PTD application. However, not all hope is lost. One course of action your workers’ comp lawyer might take is to file an action in mandamus.
When a Writ of Mandamus Might Be Appropriate
It sounds like something out of a Harry Potter book, but mandamus is actually Latin for “we command” or “we order” and is used in workers’ compensation when the IC has abused its discretion in denying a claim or an appeal. I would file a mandamus action if I believed the IC failed in its legal duty—in other words, committed a legal error—in making a decision.
An example of a mandamus action is one I filed on behalf of a client a few years ago. A BWC vocational expert determined that my client was unemployable after many years of pain and illness and attempts at vocational retraining. However, when we filed for PTD benefits, the IC denied her claim. I determined that the IC doctor failed to examine my client on all the conditions allowed in her claim. Essentially, we argued that the IC abused its discretion in relying upon a defective medical report from its own doctor to deny her PTD application.
The Ohio Attorney General’s office agreed, and we were granted a new hearing with the IC. This time, we were successful in obtaining my client’s PTD benefits and back pay.
Leave the Legalese to Us!
I share this story not because I think my clients need a law degree to get the workers’ comp benefits they deserve, but because I want them to understand there are options available when a legitimate claim is denied. Mandamus cases are time-consuming and the standard of proof is stringent, so other approaches may make more sense. But, whether you're denied by the BWC, by the IC on appeal, or by the IC for permanent total disability, our team will use all of our legal resources to fight on your behalf. Contact us to learn more.