Have you or a loved one recently been injured in a work related incident? Then it is very important that you read this article to be sure that you are aware of your rights under the State of Oklahoma's Worker's Compensation Commission's Guide for Injured Workers.
If I Was Injured on the Job, Should I Hire an Attorney?
To be clear, the question is not one that can be conclusively answered unless you actually pay our office a visit and explain to us the details surrounding your injury.
Conditions That May Disqualify A Worker From Claiming Workers Comp
As a rule of thumb, you may not have to hire an attorney if the following conditions apply:
- Injuries that occur in the parking lot or other adjacent areas while the employee was coming in to or leaving from work are generally not covered. But this also can have some gray areas that an attorney should investigate, such as was it a situation where the complainant was injured by falling equipment owned by the company, etc.
- If the employee has failed a drug and/or alcohol test, then the accident will most likely not be covered. This is because, even though the employee may have not used drugs on the premise at the time that the accident occurred, it will be hard to disprove that the presumption of intoxication wasn't the cause of the accident.
- Injuries incurred while the employee was engaging in any sort of recreational or social activities for his/her own pleasure are not covered.
- Injuries that are a result of a pre-existing illness or injury will generally fail to be covered. But here, yet another gray line appears. As an example, we can assume the employee notified his employer of a pre-existing injury, which rendered him partially disabled. Some companies can receive tax breaks or other government allowances for hiring them. In the course of his employment, the employer went against the original hiring agreement that prevented the partially disabled employee from engaging in duties that would aggravate his/her disability, this may constitute as a claim, being that documentation and witnesses are clear on the matter.
- Injuries that happen during an employee's work/lunch break are not covered unless the break was authorized by the employer, and said injury occurred within the facility.
- Mental injuries (injuries that cause mental impairment) are only compensable if caused by a physical injury to the employee; this limitation does not apply to the victim of a violent crime.
- Independent contractors do not fall under the definition of "employee" under the Administrative Workers' Compensation Act (AWCA).
For a more detailed guide on what injurys are covered, please read the Oklahoma Worker Compensation Commission's Guide for Injured Workers.
Conditions That May Qualify A Worker For Worker's Comp
To know whether or not you fall within the guidelines that makes you eligible for worker's compensation, see if you fit under any of the below categories:
- The employer denies that you have a claim or fails to compensate you within the legal time frame. Up to 80% of employees accept the employer's and worker's comp insurance company's rejection of a compensation claim, whether out of fear of reprisal or lack of legal knowledge. And this is what they anticipate. Don't be a victim! Hiring an attorney who specializes in worker's compensation cases grants you a fair chance against crooked employers and their insurance firms.
- Your employer's settlement offer doesn't cover your lost wages or hospital bills. Don't rely on a worker's compensation judge to be sure that you're getting what is fair. Although worker's compensation settlements must have judicial approval, judges will sign off on any agreement as long as it isn't outrageously unfair. To ensure the best settlement, you should hire an attorney to fight alongside you every step of the way.
- If your injuries fall under the Worker's Compensation Commission's Guide for Injured Workers, Section IV, Benefits definition of temporary disability, which states as follows: "TTD (temporary total disability) occurs when when a work-related injury prevents a person from performing his/her job duties. Whether a person is TTD is typically determined by the treating physician." And "Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) may be payable when an injured worker can perform alternative work, but cannot make as much as he or she did before the injury."
- If you are receiving Social Security Disability benefits, it may be affected by the worker's compensation case's end result. Per the Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Court of Existing Claims, you can receive both, but the Social Security may take credit for the amount of the worker's compensation benefits you are receiving. This can result in decreased Social Security benefits.
- If the employer in any way threatens or retaliates against you for filing a worker's compensation claim, they are in violation of 85A O.S. 7(A) of the Administrative Worker's Compensation Act, and depending on the severity of the offense, can end up being charged as a felony crime. This is a very serious matter, and if you have experienced this in any way, you should call us immediately.
- Worker's comp lawsuits are strictly for company related accidents, but if you feel there is a chance that a third party, such as an outside contractor who is not necessarily a part of the company forth which you are employed, is responsible for injuries you sustained on a job site or other job related location, you may have to file a third-party claim. You can contact us in regards to what fits as a third-party claim in the state of Oklahoma.
If you feel that you are in need of counsel or simply would like to come in and inquire your about your work related injury, or that of a loved one, please contact us any time. We would be more than glad to assist you.