Can You Be Required to Undergo Surgery in Order to Recover Workers’ Compensation?


Posted by: Chris

Some work-related injuries can be treated with prescription medications, physical therapy, and non-invasive procedures. However, many people who are injured at work are told they need to undergo surgery as part of their treatment. Every surgical procedure carries some level of risk, which is why a lot of people try to avoid going under the knife. But, will refusing to undergo surgery affect your ability to recover workers’ compensation?

Refusing to Undergo Surgery After A Work-Related Injury

According to OK Stat § 85A-54, the Workers’ Compensation Commission can take an injured employee’s refusal to undergo surgery into consideration when determining how to compensate them for their permanent partial or permanent total disability. However, the commission can only do this if the employee’s refusal to undergo surgery is “unreasonable”.

When is a refusal to undergo surgery understandable and when does it become unreasonable? The law states that a refusal is unreasonable when the surgery has been recommended by at least two doctors and the procedure does not put the individual at a great risk of losing his life.

This means if the surgery is only recommended by one doctor or if the procedure is incredibly risky, refusing to go through with it will not affect your ability to recover compensation. However, if the procedure has been recommended by multiple doctors and there are no serious risks involved, your refusal could impact your benefits.

Exceptions Involving Hernias

There is one exception to the law mentioned above. But, the exception only applies to people who have suffered work-related hernias. Typically, if an injured worker has a hernia, he is only entitled to receive temporary total disability benefits for six weeks. But, this is not the case if the worker refuses to undergo surgery to treat his hernia.

Surgical treatment is often necessary to repair hernias. If a qualified physician recommends surgery, the injured worker has the right to refuse it. Injured workers who refuse to undergo surgical treatment for their hernia are entitled to temporary total disability benefits for 13 weeks. Therefore, workers with hernias are not penalized for refusing to undergo surgery, whereas workers with other injuries could be, depending on the circumstances.

If you sustained a work-related injury, contact Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. today. Let our experienced attorneys guide you through the process of recovering workers’ compensation benefits. Call us now at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.