If you are new to the Oklahoma workforce, you might know about your employer's obligation to carry workers' compensation insurance. However, how much do you know about workers' compensation and the benefits it offers? Would you know what steps to take if you are injured in an on-the-job accident?
Types of injuries
You will be entitled to pursue workers' compensation benefits claims for any injuries you suffer while you are on duty. It could be a single event such as a back injury suffered in a fall, burn injuries from splashing hazardous chemicals or crash injuries while driving a company vehicle. Benefits will also cover injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome that could develop from repetitive motions, hearing loss due to extended periods of noise exposure or illnesses caused by dangerous work environments. However, to prove that such an injury is work related could be challenging.
Types of benefits
The severity of your injuries, the time necessary to recover and the impact on your future earning capacity will determine which of the following type of benefits you will receive:
- Medical care only: This is for circumstances in which you can return to work immediately after receiving medical treatment. Your employer will pay hospital and doctors' bills upon presentation.
- Temporary disability: If the nature of your injuries prevent you from returning to work until you have recovered, you will receive a wage-replacement package along with medical expense coverage.
- Permanent disability: Long-term benefits will be based on whether the disability is partial or total. Partial disability means you are still physically able to do a different job while total disability means you are unable to secure gainful employment.
- Displacement benefits: Since 2004, workers with debilitating injuries may qualify for supplemental benefits. These come in the form of vouchers to assist with paying programs to teach new skills that will prepare debilitated workers for alternative jobs.
- Death benefits: If you suffer a fatal workplace injury or illness, your spouse or any other dependents can claim benefits. It typically covers the costs of end-of-life arrangements and a specified period of lost income benefits.
Steps to take after suffering an on-the-job injury
After suffering an on-the-job injury, you will have certain time limits to handle the following:
- Get the necessary medical care: Make sure your doctor knows the nature of your job and the circumstances of the accident that caused the injury. You will need proper documentation to substantiate your claim.
- Inform your employer: Report the injury to your supervisor promptly. If the illness or injury developed over time, such as hearing loss or repetitive stress injuries, report it as soon as you realize that it is work related.
- Complete a claim form: Your employer will give you a claim form to fill out and return as soon as possible to make sure the process is set in motion within the time limit.
You are entitled to seek the support and guidance of an experienced workers' compensation attorney to answer your questions, explain your rights and assist with the navigation of your benefits claim. A lawyer can help with the administrative and legal procedures required to pursue workers' compensation benefits, and ensure that you receive the maximum amount of benefits to which you are entitled.