A recent research report on the Most Dangerous and Safest States for Workers ranked Oklahoma as the 11th most dangerous state for fatal workplace injuries in the U.S., with 5.1 fatalities per 100,000 workers. To protect your legal rights, it’s important that you understand what to do following a workplace accident so you can get the compensation you deserve. Here are the top 10 things you need to know about workers’ comp:
- Report your work injury to your employer as soon as possible.
By law, employees in Oklahoma have 30 days from the date the injury was sustained to notify their employer. If you miss this deadline, you could lose the right to workers’ compensation benefits. For this reason, it’s best to notify your employer as soon as possible to ensure you don’t lose the opportunity to recover benefits.
- You are entitled to full coverage for your injury-related medical expenses.
In general, workers qualify for compensation for their medical expenses and part of your lost wages. If someone is killed while on the job, the family can recover funeral expenses and other benefits through workers’ compensation as well.
- You are entitled to file a claim whenever you are injured at work.
Many people think they can only file a claim for worker’s compensation if they were actually performing their job at the time of their injury. However, you are entitled to file a workers’ comp claim any time you are injured at work — say, by falling down the stairs or slipping in the break room.
- Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system.
Workers’ compensation in Oklahoma (and every other state) is a no-fault system, which means that you are entitled to benefits regardless of who is at fault. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule. For example, your claim may be denied if your injury occurred during horseplay, you were physically fighting with another employee, or if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the injury occurred.
- Not all workers are entitled to workers’ comp benefits in Oklahoma.
Most Oklahoma employees are covered by the state’s workers’ compensation system and are therefore entitled to benefits for work-related injuries. There are some workers this rule does not apply to in Oklahoma, including:
- Real estate agents or brokers
- Independent contractors
- Certain agricultural or horticultural workers
- Certain domestic workers
- Sole proprietors
- Tractor-trailer or truck rental owners/operators
- Tax-exempt youth sports league employees
- Your workers’ compensation claim will likely be denied the first time.
A majority of workers’ compensation claims are actually denied the first time they are filed because insurers are betting that most workers will fail to appeal. Sadly, they are usually right. Having a workers’ comp attorney involved in filing your claim and, if necessary, appealing an initial denial gives you the best opportunity to receive just compensation for your illness or injury.
- You do not have to take the insurance company’s settlement offer.
If you are unsure whether the settlement offer you receive is good enough to cover all your medical bills and lost wages, don’t count on the insurance company to look after your best interests. However, your attorney is always on your side looking out for your best interests, so if you want the best possible settlement, hire one.
- In certain cases, you can file for workers’ compensation and pursue a personal injury claim.
Employers that provide workers’ compensation benefits to employees who are injured at work typically cannot be sued. However, injured workers who are eligible for workers’ compensation are allowed to take legal action against their employers in certain situations, including intentional harm, reckless conduct, or negligence. Injured workers may also be able to recover compensation from other parties besides their employers after a job-related injury. For example, workers who are injured by defective products can file a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
- Workers’ compensation attorneys handle cases on a contingency basis.
Attorneys typically handle workers’ compensation cases on a contingency basis, meaning they are not paid unless benefits are recovered. Under Oklahoma law, attorneys’ fees are capped at a maximum of 10% of any award for contested temporary disability, and 20% of any award for permanent disability or for a contested death case is permitted as an attorney fee. All attorney fees are subject to court approval. In addition, your initial consultation should be free.
- Waiting only makes it more difficult to get compensation for your work-related injury.
After you’ve been injured at work and have received medical attention for your injuries, you will not want to wait too long to file a workers’ compensation claim. In addition, there are several preliminary steps in making a claim that are very important. If you make a mistake in the process, it could affect your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits. Having an experienced attorney working for you from the outset is one of the best ways to maximize your chance of receiving all the benefits you deserve.
Are you trying to recover compensation for a work-related injury? If so, seek legal representation from the experienced attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. at once. Let our team build a strong case that clearly shows why you qualify for benefits for your 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.