Sometimes when two people cannot reach an agreement, one files a lawsuit against the other. They both end up in a costly court battle. Even workers’ compensation claims in Oklahoma used to be handled only through the court system. However, workers’ comp claimants and employers now have an alternative –the Workers’ Compensation Alternative Dispute Resolution Program.
Workers’ Compensation in Oklahoma
After you receive an on-the-job injury, you first will notify your employer. If the employer refuses to provide workers’ comp benefits, or you disagree on the type of benefits you deserve, you can file a workers’ comp claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission.
If you and your employer cannot reach an agreement through negotiations, you generally have two choices:
- Go to trial, or
- Request alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
You may be wondering what ‘alternative dispute resolution’ means. Simply put, ADR is just a different way of resolving your differences.
The Workers’ Compensation Alternative Dispute Resolution Program
In 2013, Oklahoma lawmakers passed legislation to radically change the way workers’ comp claims are handled. Among other things, the new law formed the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission and set up an alternative dispute resolution program.
In general, ADR takes three forms:
- Negotiation – The parties meet informally and try to iron out a deal.
- Mediation – a mediator meets with all the parties to come up with an informal resolution, which is not binding unless the parties enter into a settlement agreement.
- Arbitration – a more formal and legally binding form of ADR similar to mediation.
The Workers’ Compensation Alternative Dispute Resolution Program gives injured workers the chance to get workers’ comp benefits by request or through informal methods like ADR. Workers are not required to choose ADR proceedings. In fact, the law states that “mediation shall be voluntary, informal, and nonbinding” for most workers’ comp claims.
In addition, mediation offers more privacy to everyone since the proceeding typically does not become public record.
Will You Be Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Have you been injured at work? If so, the experienced attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. are here to listen.
We help injured workers recover every dollar of compensation they are owed through the workers’ compensation system, including the Workers’ Compensation Alternative Dispute Resolution Program. 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.