The majority of workers in Oklahoma are covered by the workers’ compensation system, which means they are entitled to benefits after an on-the-job injury. But, there are a number of rules that injured workers must comply with in order to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. For example, an injured worker must follow his doctor’s orders or he could lose his benefits. Here’s what you need to know about this rule:
Failing to Follow the Doctor’s Orders
According to Stat § 85A-45, an employer has the right to terminate temporary disability benefits if an injured worker fails to comply with the doctor’s orders. This can include a doctor’s orders to take prescription medication, attend follow-up appointments, visit specialists, or undergo treatment.
Terminating Workers’ Compensation Benefits
If an employer plans on terminating benefits for this reason, they must notify the employee or the employee’s lawyer of their decision. The employee has the right to file an objection to the employer’s decision, but it must be filed within 10 days. If the employee objects, the Workers’ Compensation Commission will schedule a hearing within 20 days to determine if the benefits should be reinstated.
During the hearing, the employee must explain why he decided against following the doctor’s orders. The administrative law judge presiding over the hearing can appoint an independent medical examiner to assess the employee’s condition and determine if his reason for not following the doctor’s orders is valid. If it is, the temporary disability benefits will be reinstated. However, if the employee does not have a valid reason for failing to comply with the doctor’s orders, he will lose his right to benefits.
For example, let’s say an employee’s benefits are terminated after he refuses to undergo a surgical procedure recommended by his doctor. During the hearing, he explains that he chose not to undergo the procedure after seeking a second opinion from another doctor, who disagreed with the first doctor’s recommendations. In this case, the employee received conflicting recommendations from his healthcare providers. As a result, the commission could decide that the employee had a valid reason not to comply with the initial doctor’s orders.
If you have been injured at work, contact Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. as soon as possible. Let our team of experienced attorneys ensure you are awarded the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve for your work-related injury. 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.