Did you recently get hurt on the job? Do you suffer from an illness that you believe may be related to your work? Do you think that your job activities may have aggravated a medical condition that already affected you? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits in Oklahoma.
Here are 10 facts you should know about these benefits and the process that it takes to file a claim:
1. You may qualify for many different types of workers’ comp benefits.
The Oklahoma workers’ compensation system provides many different types of benefits for injured and ill workers. Those benefits include:
- Medical benefits that cover the cost of all related care and treatment
- Disability benefits that cover a portion of your lost wages
- Vocational rehabilitation benefits that help you with job placement.
The surviving spouse and/or children of a worker who dies from a work-related injury or illness may be eligible to receive death benefits, including funds to cover funeral and burial expenses.
2. Workers’ compensation insurance covers most Oklahoma workers.
Most employers in Oklahoma self-insure or carry workers’ compensation insurance. If you get hurt in an accident – regardless of whether you are a full-time or part-time worker, and even if it happens on your first day on the job – workers’ compensation should cover you. Some volunteer workers qualify for benefits as well. Independent contractors are not eligible.
3. Workers’ compensation in Oklahoma is a “no-fault” system.
You may qualify for workers’ comp benefits even if you were wholly or partially at fault for your injury or illness – as long as it arose from your employment. However, if you were intoxicated at the time of the incident, an employer can deny your claim.
4. You may qualify for temporary or permanent disability benefits.
If your injury or illness prevents you from being able to work, or if you can only return to work in a lesser-paying, lighter-duty role, then you may be eligible to receive temporary or permanent disability benefits for your partial or total disability. These benefits will cover a portion of the total wages you lose each week due to the disability.
5. You need to report your injury or illness.
As the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Court of Existing Claims points out, you must report your injury to your employer within 30 days after an accident occurs. If you suffer from a repetitive trauma injury or occupational disease, you must report it to your employer within 90 days after you are separated from your employment. If you fail to report the injury or illness, you could lose your right to receive workers’ comp benefits.
6. You can request to change doctors.
If your employer files your workers’ compensation claim and covers your medical costs, then you must receive treatment from a medical care provider that the employer chooses. However, you can ask once to change your “treating physician.” An attorney can guide you through that process.
7. You can appeal an adverse decision.
If you disagree with any decision about your workers’ compensation claim for medical and/or disability benefits, you can appeal that decision. Because you will need to fill out the proper forms and meet tight deadlines, you will benefit from working with an attorney who has experience with handling workers’ compensation appeals in Oklahoma.
8. If your employer retaliates, you have the right to take action.
If your employer fires you or takes any other adverse action against you because you have filed a claim or hired a lawyer, you have the right to take legal action against the employer. An attorney can review your case and help you to pursue all options available to you.
9. You may be able to file a third-party liability claim.
If workers’ compensation covers you, then you cannot file a lawsuit against your employer. However, if a non-employer or co-worker caused your injury or illness or the loss of your loved one, you may be eligible to file a personal injury or wrongful death claim against that “third party.” The lawsuit may provide compensation that goes well beyond what workers’ comp covers, including compensation for all lost income and pain and suffering.
10. A workers’ compensation lawyer can represent you on a contingency fee basis.
At Cain Law Office, we can help you to pursue workers’ compensation benefits on a contingency fee basis. You will pay for our legal services only if we secure benefits for you. To learn more, call or reach us online today for a free consultation through our offices in Edmond and Oklahoma City.