Workers' Compensation FAQs
If you are injured on the job and unsure of what to do next, we can help. Here you will find a list of explained terms, answers to commonly asked questions, and more. For questions that are not answered here, please do not hesitate to contact our office at (918) 582-2500 for a free consultation and review of your injury and case.
Who Is The Claimant?
This means the injured worker.
Who Is The Respondent?
This means the workers’ compensation insurance carrier for the Claimant’s employer. The Respondent actually does the negotiating, settling, or litigation regarding your claim.
What Is An Occupational Disease?
This means causes and conditions characteristic of or peculiar to the particular trade, occupation, process, or employment of the ill worker. Examples would include exposure to a chemical in the workplace that causes injury to the internal organs of the body.
How Can I Make Appointments With My Attorney?
This office will be happy to schedule an appointment for you if you will call ahead of time. Please do not come in expecting to see your attorney without an appointment. Your attorney may not be in the office due to court appearance and outside appointments such as depositions.
What Is TTD?
TTD stands for Total Temporary Disability. An employee is entitled to weekly payments after three (3) days of disability have passed and the employee has not returned to work. These payments are equal to 70% of your average weekly wage up to a maximum payment, which changes yearly. These payments are to continue subject to statutory exceptions for your period of temporary total disability and will stop upon your return to work, your release by your treating physician, when you are given a PPD rating, or when the statutory maximum benefit has been reached. You should let your attorney know as soon as you are released by your treating physician so that a permanent partial disability evaluation can be scheduled.
What Is PTD?
PTD stands for Permanent Total Disability. Disability due to work related injury or disease to earn any wages in employment for which the employee is or becomes physically suited and reasonable fitted by education, training, or experience. Loss of both hands, both feet, both legs, both eyes, or any two (2) thereof is an automatically permanent total disability.
What Is PPD?
PPD stands for Permanent Partial Disability. Permanent partial disability is less than permanent total disability and is similar to permanent impairment. PPD is awarded when your injury is not completely disabling but effects your ability to do normal daily activities such as lifting, bending, standing, walking or other physical activities.
What Does Permanent Impairment Mean?
Any anatomical or functional abnormality or loss after reasonable medical treatment has been achieved which the physician considers to be capable of evaluation at the time the rating is made.
What Are Legal Assistants?
We use legal assistants to expedite the handling of your case. Legal assistants can answer questions, but may not give legal advice. Feel free to ask for a legal assistant on questions not answered here. Always ask for a legal assistant if your attorney is unavailable.
Can I Call My Attorney? How Often Should I Call?
Communication with clients is extremely important. However, many times attorneys are not available to receive or place phone calls due to court appearances, depositions, outside the office meetings, or meetings with other clients. If you call the office and the attorney is not available please ask to speak to a legal assistant. If the legal assistant cannot assist you, the assistant can schedule a conference for you with the attorney. If you are leaving a voice message, please advise of the date and time of your call, a good call back number, and provide a brief message to assist the attorney in returning your call. Calls are returned in the order in which they are received.
People Are Asking Me Questions. What Do I Say?
Do not talk to anyone except a lawyer or legal assistant from this office about how you got hurt. Tell anyone who asks you questions about how you got hurt to contact our office so that your attorney can be present for the discussion.
Why Do I Need A List Of Witnesses?
Prepare a list of witnesses to your job related injury. Include people who have assisted you to the doctor, hospital, or ambulance. Mail this to your attorney also. Explain how each witness can help or hurt your case.
I Have Photographs, What Do I Do With Them?
If you can see your injury or scar, take photographs of it. These may be used at your hearing. Date the photographs so that we will know where and when they were taken.
What Do I Need To Do If I Move Or Change Phone Numbers?
Please notify us immediately of any change of address or telephone number. We cannot stay in contact with you if we do not have current contact information.
Where Do I Sent Mail To My Attorney?
Mail all correspondence to the following address:
Armstrong & Vaught
C/O: Craig Armstrong or Chris Vaught (whoever your attorney is)
2727 E 21st Street, Suite 505
Tulsa, OK 74114
How Are Fees Set Up?
Attorney fees are set by the Court on Workers’ Compensation claims and are normally twenty percent (20%) of your recovery for permanent partial disability and ten percent (10%) for temporary total disability. No fee is awarded if recovery is denied. Please read the contract that is enclosed in your initial packet or that your attorney gave you. This contract will control all disputes that arise. If you have questions, please feel free to ask your attorney directly.
If you have questions about any other type of fees, please speak with your attorney directly.
What Are Costs And Why Are They Added To My Bill?
Costs include examination by a doctor of our choice, telephone, deposition expenses, photocopy expenses, postage, and any other miscellaneous expense and are not part of the attorney fee we recover.
I’m Getting A Weekly Check And It Is Late. What Do I Do?
If you are drawing TTD or PPD, your checks are likely to be late. These can be delayed in the mail or may likely be delayed by the insurance office. Please wait three (3) business days before contacting this office with regard to a late check in order to give it time to get to our office or you. After this three (3) day period, contact this office and we will check into it.
A delayed check may also be an attempt by the insurance company to get you to settle your case. By causing financial hardship, they sometimes may entice you to settle your case for less than it is worth. This is commonly called “starving out” the Claimant.
What Is A Refusal Of Benefits?
Benefits (i.e. TTD, Medical, PPD, etc.) may be denied by the insurance carrier. They are legally entitled to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge of the Workers’ Compensation Commission before having to pay any money with regard to your claim. The only recourse to a denial of benefits is a judicial determination. If your benefits have been denied, a hearing must be requested. We will do so immediately upon being notified of a denial. This will require the incurred cost of a medical examination to substantiate your condition.
What Happens If I Get Fired?
Employers will routinely fire an employee after he has sustained an injury on the job. The employer will typically claim inability to perform your job anymore, failure to obey orders, etc. If you feel that you have been fired because of an on-the-job injury, you may have legal recourse. Please contact this office if you feel you have been fired in retaliation for being hurt on the job.
I Have Medical Bills That Are From My Case, What Do I Do With Them?
Reasonable and necessary medical treatment must be paid by your employer. This includes:
- Doctor Bills
- Hospital Bills
- Physical Therapy
- Prosthetic Devices, such as crutches, walkers, orthopedic shoes, etc.
- Travel Expenses to and from authorized medical facilities for medical treatment, if more than 40 miles round trip. Mileage is not paid to pick up prescriptions.
Make copies of all bills which are not paid by your employer or Workers’ Compensation insurance. Mail these bills to this office once per month. When you present yourself to health care providers for evaluation or treatment, please inform them that you are being treated for a Workers’ Compensation injury. At no time should you enter into any contractual obligation with a health care provider or loan agency to pay Workers’ Compensation related expenses. If you do receive calls from a collection agency refer them to our office.
Do I Get Reimbursed For Traveling To Appointments?
You may be entitled to compensation for travel to medical providers. To be eligible for reimbursement, the Medical Provider must be authorized by the Respondent, and the Medical Provider must be outside of the city limits of the city where you reside. To be reimbursed for travel to medical providers, just fill out a mileage sheet leaving the Round Trip Mileage column blank. This column will be filled in with the state mandated round trip mileage. You may also be eligible for reimbursement up to $8.00 per meal, when you provide receipts, if your travel is in excess of four (4) hours of travel one way, when you provide receipts. Turnpike toll charges and parking fees are not reimbursable. Reimbursement for mileage can be slow and frequently takes a month, and sometimes longer. You will not be paid transportation expense to attend court, your deposition, to pick up prescriptions, or for appointments scheduled by this office for a rating or medical evaluation.
Do I Get Reimbursed For Prescriptions?
You are also entitled to payment for prescriptions. To be eligible for reimbursement the prescription must be written by an authorized medical provider and the prescription must be for your work related injury. To be reimbursed for your prescription, you must provide us with either the pharmacy receipt, with the name of the doctor, the name of the prescription, and the cost of the prescription on it, or a print-out from the pharmacy stating the name of the doctor, the name of the prescription, and the cost of the prescription. Reimbursement for prescriptions can be slow and frequently takes a month, and sometimes longer. Another way to get your prescriptions is to turn them into the pharmacy and run them through Workers’ Compensation Insurance. if you have any questions on how to do this, contact our offices and we will provide instructions.
Can I Go To My Own Doctor? Do I Have To Go To The One They Choose?
Your employer has the right to choose your treating physician. You do have a right to make one change in treating physician subject to certain restrictions. Also, if you are a member of a Certified Work Medial Plan, we must first follow their guidelines for treatment.
Why Am I Being Evaluated?
The Respondent has the right to have you examined by a doctor of their choice at their expense. You also have a right to be examined by a doctor of your choice at your expense. These reports are submitted to the Judge assigned to your case when the hearing is held.
Why Is There An Evaluation By The Insurance Doctor?
The insurance carrier does have the legal right to have you examined by a physician of their choice. When you go to see the insurance doctor, please keep the following guidelines in mind:
- Give a very brief history of your injury: It is not necessary to give a lengthy, detailed explanation.
- Do not exaggerate your injuries: Some doctors will record what you say while in their office. However, do be specific about your complaints. Point to the part of your body and say how it affects what you do daily and on the job.
- Prior history: Be sure to tell the doctor about all previous injuries, especially those to the same body part or parts. The insurance company will obtain all medical records about your medical condition, past and present, and will know if you fail to tell the doctor about previous injuries.
- Range of Motion tests: When the doctor has you do range of motion tests (for example, bend and touch your toes), be cooperative, but do not allow him to hurt you, jerk you around, or push you too far. These tests are designed to determine the amount of movement you have free of pain. You should stop movement when it becomes painful. This is pain that the doctor does not feel, so you must tell him when it occurs and how it travels.
They Have Sent Me To Rehabilitation, What Is This?
If you are determined by a physician to be physically unfit for the job which you were performing at the time of your accident, you may then be eligible for rehabilitation. There are two (2) types of rehabilitation. Job replacement is simply placement in another job within your physical capabilities. Job retraining involves training for a new job.
What Is A Settlement?
Cases may be settled by a Joint Petition. A Joint Petition is a settlement by general release. It is full, final, and complete. The employer has no further obligation to the employee for medical care, treatment, TTD, PPD or rehabilitation. Respondent insurance companies like to settle this way because they do not have to pay if your injury gets worse.
What Are Hearings?
Hearings are held before an Administrative Law Judge of the Workers’ Compensation Commission. A hearing could be necessary to obtain medical treatment, Temporary Total Disability checks, travel expenses, prosthetic devices, payment of medical bills, retraining or to award permanent partial disability. It can take from three (3) to nine (9) months to get a hearing once a request is made by either party. This office has no control over hearing dates. The hearings are set by the court’s docket clerk and the court’s computer system. The scheduling of hearings is dictated by the volume of cases filed and the particular judge assigned.
How Do You Appeal A Court Order?
When an Order is received from the court, each party to the claim is given a period of ten (10) days from the date of the Order to object to the Judge’s decision. When you receive a copy of your Order from this office, please read it carefully. If you feel that the Court Order is unfair to you, contact this office immediately so that we may discuss appealing the order to the Commissioners.
How Will I Get My Payment Of Award?
When an order is received from this court, it may be paid in two (2) ways: lump sum or weekly payments. The manner of payment is determined by the Judge’s Order. Generally, a portion of the award will be accrued and this portion will be ordered paid in a lump sum. The balance of the award will be paid in weekly checks. The lump sum part of the award will be paid by bank check. It will take the check five (5) banking days to clear the bank.
What Is A Multiple Injury Trust Fund?
If you have sustained two (2) or more injuries, then you may be entitled to additional benefits from the Multiple Injury Trust Fund. This fund is set up to compensate you for the additional disability sustained when your two (2) injuries are combined and as a result of that combination you are Permanently Totally Disabled. Any injury of a permanent nature may entitle you to these benefits, whether it is work related or not. Examples are scars, obvious injuries, previous Workers’ Compensation awards, birth defects, hearing loss or loss of vision.
How Much Will My Disability Award Be?
This office cannot tell you how much your award will be. Each award is based on a variety of factors, such as:
- Reports: The report of the doctor of our choice and the report of the insurance company’s doctor will be submitted as medical evidence when we request a hearing. The Judge’s decision will be based on these two (2) reports with two (2) wide divergent opinions.
- Decision: The judge will listen to testimony given at the time of trial and based on that testimony and the medical evidence submitted, he will hand down an Order in your claim. The amount of your award, therefore, is dependent largely on his judicial discretion and your own testimony.
- Rate: The rate of compensation which you receive will be based on your average weekly wage. Your average weekly wage is determined by figuring your annual average earnings and taking one fifty-second part of the figure. Your rate of compensation will then be 70% of your average weekly wage up to a maximum of $589.33for TTD (Total Temporary Disability) for injuries after 11/1/2015 and PTD (Partial Temporary Disability), and $323 for PPD (Permanent Partial Disability) for injuries sustained on and after November 1, 2010.
- Number of Weeks: The percentage of disability awarded by the judge is scheduled at a certain number of weeks of compensation due. For example, a ten percent (10%) permanent partial disability to the body as a whole is equal to thirty-five (35) weeks of compensation at the rate of compensation for that claim.
Does Your Office Provide Loans?
We understand that this may be a difficult time financially as well as physically and mentally, but the Oklahoma Bar Association Rules of Professional Conduct does not permit attorneys to loan money to their clients. Additionally, there are loan companies that will try to lend you money based on your potential Workers’ Compensation award. However, according to the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Statute Title 85A O.S. 10, these loans are not allowed because they use your Workers’ Compensation award or settlement as collateral.
Attorneys Only Want To Charge A Huge Hourly Bill. Does Your Office Do This?
No lawyer in this office represents insurance companies. This office is not paid by the hour. If you do not get a fair award, we do not get a fair fee. Thus, we are very concerned about how much you receive in your case.