Thousands of Oklahoma workers risk their health and safety every day to earn an income. If you are one of them, you might suffer from exposure to dangerous gases and fumes from toxic chemicals, harsh weather conditions, dangerous moving parts of machines, extreme heights or other hazardous conditions. Your body may be taxed with repetitive pulling, lifting, pushing, crawling and crouching.
What will happen if you suffer a work-related injury or illness? Knowing that your employer provides workers' compensation coverage is not enough. Do you know the procedures to follow if you need to file a claim for benefits? Many employers will do what they can to limit workers' compensation claims to keep their insurance premiums as low as possible.
Mistakes that can get your claims denied
If you don't follow the correct procedures after a work accident, you may jeopardize your chances of receiving full benefits. Following are some of the most common reasons for denials of workers' compensation benefits:
- Delayed report -- You claim could be denied if you failed to report the injury to your employer promptly. Filing a written report and keeping a copy is one of the first steps you should take.
- Going to a doctor of your choice -- When the injury occurs, you have to see a doctor that is an authorized service provider for the insurance company. There are circumstances under which subsequent treatment by your chosen doctor may be allowed, but only by following the required procedures. If you have questions about this, talk to a workers' compensation lawyer. In any case, get the medical treatment you need. If you don't, the insurance company could claim that your injury isn't as bad as it is.
- Your injury is not job-related -- Your employer may claim that your injury did not occur while you were on duty or that horseplay was the real cause of your injury. Make sure you have a full report of the circumstances of the incident, and lining up some witnesses may help.
- Reveal all -- Make a point of telling the doctor exactly how the accident happened, and report every ache and pain. Sometimes one injury can lead to the manifestation of another condition, and if the initial report is incomplete, further claims may not be successful.
- Pre-existing condition -- If you have an existing problem, such as a previous back injury, make sure your employer knows about it. Compensation may be available for pre-existing conditions that are aggravated by your current job, but it's important to provide the proper medical evidence to prove the connection.
To ensure that you avoid any errors and receive all of the benefits to which you are entitled, speak with an experienced Oklahoma workers' compensation attorney soon after your injury. A workers' comp lawyer can handle your claim or help you appeal the decision if your benefits have already been denied.