Every minute of every day people are injured on the job. In some cases the injuries go unreported due to fear of loss of job. There may be literature in the break room, or signs hanging on the walls of your workplace instructing you on what to do in case of an injury. But the true feeling among employees is it may be better to say nothing and not “rock the boat” so to say. People are living paycheck to paycheck and good jobs are hard to come by, so it is easy to see how a person may come to the decision to keep an injury to themselves. The fact is that you have rights as a worker and your employer has responsibilities to you as an employee concerning on the job illness or injury. Let’s look at Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation and You.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a system of insurance that provides medical and indemnity benefits for workers’ with job-related injuries or illnesses. Workers’ compensation is a “no fault” system, meaning fault for the accident is not relevant to eligibility for benefits. Workers’ compensation provides for:
- Medical care for work-related injuries or illnesses;
- Payments for wages lost as a result of work-related injuries or illnesses;
- Replacement for lost wages; this is temporary total disability (TTD);
- Compensation for permanent disabilities, within limitations set by law;
- Death benefits for the families of workers’ who died due to a work-related injury;
- Vocational retraining and/or job placement for workers’ who are unable to return to their prior occupation.
Who is covered by the Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act?
Generally, every employee who is injured on the job in a work-related injury is covered by the Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act, but only if the injury occurred on or after February
1, 2014. Some exceptions do apply. For example, agricultural or horticultural workers employed by an employer with less than $100,000 in payroll for agricultural or horticultural workers in the
preceding calendar year are not “employees” under the act, and not covered. Other exceptions include:
- In general, employees of the Federal government, or employees who are covered for injuries, disease, or death arising out of and in the course of employment under any Act of Congress (federal law);
- Any person who is a licensed real estate sales associate or broker, paid on a commission basis
- Any person who is providing services in a medical care or social services program, or who is a participant in a work or training program, administered by the Department of Human Services, unless the Department is required by federal law or regulations to provide workers’ compensation for such person. This exception does not apply to nursing homes;
- Any person employed by an employer with five or fewer total employees, all of whom are related by blood or marriage to the employer, if the employer is a natural person or a general or limited partnership, or an incorporator of a corporation if the corporation is the employer;
- Independent contractors do not fall under the definition of “employee” under the AWCA (American Workers’ Compensation Act).
Are All Injuries Covered?
Not all injuries that occur on the job are covered by workers’ compensation. Injuries that do not occur as a result of employment activities are typically not covered. For example:
- Injuries occurring while the employee is in a parking lot or other area adjacent to the employer’s place of business, while reporting for a shift or leaving at the end of a shift, are typically not covered;
- Injuries caused by the use of drugs or alcohol are not covered; a positive drug test creates a rebuttable presumption that intoxication was the cause of an accident.
- Injuries incurred while engaging in recreational or social activities for the employee’s personal pleasure are not covered
- Injuries caused by pre-existing conditions are not covered when there has been no significant and identifiable aggravation in the course and scope of employment
- Injury is not covered if it occurred while the employee is on a work break, unless the break is authorized by the employee’s supervisor and the injury occurs inside the employer’s facility
- Mental injuries are only compensable if caused by a physical injury to the employee; this limitation does not apply to the victim of a crime of violence.
- Any member of the Oklahoma National Guard performing duties in response to state orders and any authorized voluntary or uncompensated firefighter, peace officer or emergencymanagement worker may be covered. Benefits for volunteer workers who are covered are calculated by using wages earned in the individual’s regular occupation.
What are your rights and responsibilities as an injured worker?
You have the right to receive assistance from the Workers’ Compensation Commission’s Counselor program, if you are not represented by an attorney. The Counselors are available to assist if you have questions about the workers’ compensation process, laws, or rules. The Counselors have demonstrated knowledge of the Oklahoma workers’ compensation process, laws, and rules. This service is available to anyone, and is free, but any person who has hired an attorney to handle a workers’ compensation claim should contact his/her attorney. It is important to note that the Counselors can give information about the law and process, but they cannot give legal advice by telling you how the law applies to your circumstances.
- You may have the right to receive any medical treatment that is reasonable and necessary for your injury or illness.
- If the employer intends to deny your claim in whole or in part, it must file the CC-Form-2A stating the reason(s) for the denial, and send it to you within fifteen (15) days of receiving notice that the injury has occurred. The employer may request an extension of this filing deadline to investigate the claim.
- You have the responsibility to give your employer prompt notice that the injury has occurred. Failing to provide notice within thirty (30) days an injury occurs, or within thirty (30) days after separation from employment for a cumulative trauma injury, could jeopardize your right to compensation. Notice of an injury should always be given as soon as possible to avoid delays for investigation.
- You have the responsibility to follow the restrictions and treatment plan given to you by your treating physician. Missed medical appointments can result in denial of benefits.
The Claim Process: Initiating a Claim
Typically, employers and/or insurance carriers will ensure that injured workers receive the proper medical treatment and any benefits payable under the law. However, occasionally a dispute will
arise and it may be necessary for the injured worker to file a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission to preserve his or her rights.
Contact Jones Brown Law
Whether you are entering the job market for the first time or were recently terminated, it is important to understand your rights as a worker. Both federal and state governments have enacted a wide range of employment laws protecting employees from discriminatory treatment, unfair labor practices, unsafe work conditions, and more. This section provides in-depth resources on all phases of the employment process — from the interview and hiring stage to promotion and termination. In addition, you’ll find information about privacy in the workplace, wage and hour laws, workplace safety and family leave policies.
Employment law governs the rights and responsibilities between employers and employees. Most of the laws and statutes that fall under employee law are meant to protect the employee from unfair and unsafe working conditions, but they also help to protect employers.
One large section of employment law deals with the “At Will” Presumption. In nearly every state in the US, it is presumed that both employer and employee are working together voluntarily, and can terminate their working relationship at any time, and for almost any reason.
Working environments can be chaotic and complex. The law offices of Jones Brown wants to make sure you are aware of your rights as an employee or employer. If you feel you have been wrongfully treated at work or on a job, our experienced attorneys know exactly what to do. Here are some common examples of employment law:
- Collective bargaining
- Employment discrimination
- Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)
- Unemployment compensation
- Workplace safety
- Worker’s compensation
If you feel that you have not been treated fairly by your employer, then contact the Employment Law professionals at Jones Brown PLLC. and taking our free Workers’ Compensation Evaluation by CLICKING HERE.