Common Questions About Worker Injuries & Claims

Do the terms “wage replacement” and “medical coverage” sound familiar? These are terms you might hear in the workplace because they relate to Workers’ Compensation.

Workers’ Compensation is provided by an employer to cover their employees. It is an insurance program to promise employees help when and if there is an accident or injury on the job. Sometimes, these cases are very complicated, so should you ever find yourself in a situation dealing with a work-related injury, it is wise to contact a local Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Attorney.

Below are just a few of the common questions people have about Workers Compensation claims and benefits. More of these will be shared in a future article.

How long do I have to be employed in order to be covered by Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ Compensation coverage is designed so that you are protected while you are on the job. Period. That means there is no waiting period – when you begin work, you are covered for work-related injuries.

Who is covered by the Workers’ Compensation Code?

In the state of Oklahoma, all employees are usually covered. However, there are special cases. If you are an employee in another state but are visiting a company in Oklahoma on business, then you will be covered if injuries occur. Specific requirements and rules apply to certain agricultural workers, those who are volunteering, and drug or alcohol rehabilitation workers. There are countless other specific allocations for Workers’ Compensation as well, and this adds to the complexity of cases.

If you are wondering who would not be covered, one example of someone who would not receive coverage would be an independent contractor. Since they are not an employee, the employer’s insurance would not apply to them.

What if my employer does not have Workers’ Compensation coverage?

There are penalties if an employer does not secure Workers’ Compensation and a death occurs. No matter the circumstances, an employer not having coverage should be reported. There is an option for action that may be taken with the Workers’ Compensation Court of Existing Claims or the District Court.

When should I report an accident that occurred on the job?

To ensure that you receive proper documentation to maximize your claim over the course of the Workers’ Compensation process, the ideal situation would be to report the injury/ accident immediately. In reality though if an injury is not reported within 30 days, it is presumed by law that the injury is not work-related and the claim will become more difficult to prove.  Cumulative or repetitive injuries must be reported within 30 days of separation of employment or within six months of distinct manifestation.

What do I do about medical treatment?

For your work-related injuries. you need to work with your employer and their insurance in order for them to provide whatever medical services you need. Your employer/their insurance company does have the right in selecting the initial physician for you, but if there is a serious or life-threatening emergency and an injured worker must immediately seek medical help, there is a requirement that the employer will reimburse or pay this expense. Another related rule is that if an employer does not provide medical services within 5 days after notice of the injury, then an employee can go seek medical attention themselves, and be reimbursed.

Can I change doctors?

There is the opportunity to change doctors in a Workers’ Compensation case, but it involves a procedure through either a grievance or a change of doctor request depending on whether or not your employer has a contract with a certified workplace medical plan or CWMP.

If the employer does not have an agreement with a CWMP, then an application can be filed with the Commission for approval of a different physician but this is only allowed one time. The request for a change of physician must be filed within 180 days of the last treatment.

If the employer has contracted with a CWMP, an employee may apply for a one-time change of physician within the network. This is done using the dispute resolution or grievance process.

These are just a few of the many questions and discussions that typically surround the very complex nature of Workers’ Compensation cases and on-the-job injuries. If you have been involved in an accident at work and are seeking assistance, contact Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation attorneys in your area, and check here in the future for additional Q and A articles.