Ohio Supreme Court Rules Nonlawyers can Handle Workers' Comp Cases

December 16, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The Ohio Supreme Court upheld a 92-year old practice Wednesday in ruling that non-lawyers handling workers' compensation cases were not illegally practicing law.

>In a 5-2 Decision, the court ruled that requiring the use of attorneys for such work would frustrate the goals and purpose of the workers’ compensation system, according to the Associated Press. Writing for the majority, Justice Alice Resnick ruled that “in certain cases there are multiple interests to consider in determining whether a particular legal activity is acceptably performed by nonlawyers,” according to the AP.

>The ruling overturned an earlier decision by a Supreme Court board against a Columbus company that handles such claims. The board, according to the AP, ruled that CompManagement Inc. was practicing law illegally in helping workers receive workers’ compensation.

>The ruling was watched closely by groups such as unions, libraries, local governments, and school boards, with many worried that a ruling against the company would cause a large cost increase for workers looking to receive compensation after injuries. Specifically, unions were worried that workers would have less of an ability to appeal if they had to use lawyers, according to the AP.