Whether you have a physically demanding job, or a desk job, any worker can have an accident in the workplace which results in injury. If you are injured on the job, you deserve financial compensation to cover your medical expenses, and lost wages. Although all states have workers’ compensation, the benefits can vary widely from state to state. In 2013, the Oklahoma Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of new laws which replaced the Oklahoma Workers’ Comp Court with the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Unfortunately, workers typically receive much less in workers’ comp benefits under the new laws. This new law also allows employers to opt out of the Oklahoma Workers’ Comp Insurance so long as they provide equivalent coverage for injured workers, however even if a company only has one part-time employee, Oklahoma law requires workers’ compensation coverage.
When you receive an injury at work, it can be so unexpected and so traumatic that you may not remember what you need to do other than getting medical help. Unfortunately, in some cases, the things you forget to do following a workplace accident can have a direct effect on your future. A highly experienced Oklahoma workers’ compensation lawyer can explain your rights under the law to you, as well as determining whether your particular case qualifies for a third-party lawsuit.
What Should I Do First Following My Workplace Accident?
For many of those who find themselves in the unenviable position of being injured at their place of work, the entire workers’ compensation process can seem like a very complex maze with tons of rules and regulations. For the hard-working, honest employee, filing an Oklahoma workers’ compensation claim can feel like a betrayal of their employer, however it is important to remember that employers are required under law to carry workers’ comp insurance. If you are injured on the job you will have medical expenses, possibly long-term rehabilitation expenses and lost wages to contend with, and you should not be responsible for these costs.
The first thing you must do following a workplace injury is to immediately notify your supervisor or the human resource department if you happen to work in a larger company. Most human resource departments will have very specific procedures you are required to follow, and if you have an employee handbook which was issued by your current employer, you should follow the guidelines listed. Next, you must seek medical attention, even if you don’t believe your injuries are that severe. Remember, that in many instances your injuries may not become apparent for hours, days or even weeks following your injury.
Even if you simply suffered a slip and fall and might be sore but do not think you are seriously injured, you should nonetheless carefully follow each “step” in the workers’ comp process. If you decline medical attention, you could later be denied workers’ compensation benefits on the theory that you could have suffered an injury at home in the interim. So, even if you believe you are “fine” following your workplace accident, it is crucial that you inform your employer of the accident, and seek medical attention.
Am I Entitled to Workers’ Compensation?
In the state of Oklahoma, employers are required to provide workers’ compensation coverage except for:
- Household or domestic employees when the total payroll is less than $10,000 per year;
- Horticultural or agricultural employees when the total payroll is less than $100,000 per year;
- Workers who work for an employer with five or less employees, all of whom are related by blood or marriage to the employer;
- Licensed real estate sales persons and real estate brokers who work on commission, and
- Employees who are covered under Federal law.
Additionally, companies who only hire independent contractors may not have to carry workers’ compensation, however there are very specific rules which apply to independent contractors.
What Workers’ Compensation Benefits Could I Receive?
Once you have instigated your workers’ compensation claim and received appropriate medical treatment, if your injuries are not severe enough to keep you from work for any significant length of time, your claim will typically close within one year of the date of your last medical treatment and weekly benefits will not be an issue. If your injuries were severe enough that you were forced to take time off from work to recover, you could collect weekly benefits.
You will receive medical treatment for your workplace injury and those expenses will be covered under workers’ compensation. You will also receive lost wages benefits as well as compensation for any permanent disability suffered as a result of your workplace accident. Your workers’ compensation benefits will depend on whether you have a permanent partial impairment or a permanent total disability. With severe injuries, which prevent your return to the work you did prior to the accident, you could be eligible for vocational rehabilitation through the workers’ compensation program, in addition to receiving normal workers’ comp weekly benefits.
Most Common Workers’ Compensation Injuries
Some of the most common workers’ compensation injuries seen by the Oklahoma law firm of Forbes & Renes include the following:
- Neck and back injuries
- Shoulder dislocation
- Occupational diseases
- Hearing loss
- Knee injuries
- Severed hands or fingers
- Repetitive trauma injuries
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)
Getting the Help You Need from Forbes & Renes
We understand the difficulties associated with a workplace injury, and believe our experience in Oklahoma workplace injuries can truly make the difference in your outcome. Your workplace injury will affect you and your family, and should not be taken lightly. At Forbes & Renes, we want to be your advocate, whether your workplace injury is minor or severe. We serve the entire state of Oklahoma to better accommodate your needs. If you are located in places like Oklahoma City metro area, Midwest City or Oklahoma County, call Forbes & Renes today.