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Articles Posted in Workers Compensation

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Workers throughout the United States, including Oklahoma, can get injured during the course of their employment. While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as well as the Department of Labor have various guidelines in place to ensure that employers adopt various safety measures for their workers to prevent workplace injuries, some injuries cannot be avoided.

For this reason, workers’ compensation is required by many employers to financially protect employees who are injured at work. An injured worker or his or her loved ones, and dependents have the legal right to initiate a lawsuit for recovering workers’ compensation for the workplace injuries or fatality.

Recently, an Oklahoma Department of Transportation worker was killed when a huge stop sign fell on his head, crushing him. The worker was working to fill a sinkhole when the workplace accident occurred. His grieving family and colleagues stated that the victim was a sincere worker and had been with the department for decades.

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Any worker who suffers an injury during the course of his or her employment might be entitled to workers’ compensation, which may come from state or federal workers’ compensation agencies, insurance companies or even by the employers themselves. Most employers are required to have workers’ compensation in case a worker suffers from any workplace injuries. In most cases, it is a form of self- insurance. However, in rare cases, the employer might prefer using the services of an insurance company.

While most disability benefits do not adversely affect other disability benefits, workers’ compensation has the potential to affect workers’ rights to disability benefits. The Social Security Administration usually calculates the total amount of disability benefits for which the worker is eligible, which is set at 80 percent of the total salary that the worker was receiving before he or she suffered the workplace injury.

The total disability benefits received are calculated as a cumulative of the disability benefits received by the Social Security Administration, along with workers’ compensation benefits, as well as any other benefits that are being received by the worker. The SSA uses various methods and formulae to calculate the amount of average salary that was being received by the worker prior to the workplace injury.

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Workers in Tulsa, Oklahoma, know that it is the responsibility of an employer to keep the workplace free from hazards that can result in worker injuries or deaths. Failure on the part of an employer to follow these rules and regulations regarding workers’ safety may result in a tragic workplace accident that could have been prevented.

According to Oklahoma provisions, dependents of a worker who died as the result of a job-related accident are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. A surviving spouse and each child will receive a lump sum benefit payment and they may also be able to receive weekly benefits and funeral costs.

Similarly, a worker who is injured in a work-related accident is also entitled to receive applicable benefits, depending on the type, nature and seriousness of the injury. In the event that the worker suffers permanent disability from a work-related injury or on-the-job injury, the benefits will depend on the extent of the disability.

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Under Oklahoma workers’ compensation law, all employers are encouraged by the authorities to provide insurance that offers benefits and compensation for any employee who suffers a workplace injury. A notice also must be posted by the employer in a conspicuous area in the workplace, such as a lunchroom bulletin board, informing all employees that the employer has, in fact, undertaken workers’ compensation insurance.

In case a person suffers from a work-related injury that occurs during the course of employment, he or she must inform the employer as soon as possible after the injury happens. If there is a delay of more than 30 days between being hurt and notifying the employer of the incident, the court may presume that the injury was not inflicted during the course of employment and may not qualify for workers’ compensation.

After the employer is notified of a worker’s compensation claim, he or she may decide to accept the claim or refute it. Such a decision by the employer must be made known to the employee as quickly as possible, but not more 15 days from notification of claim. Many seek professional legal help in such cases in order to understand the legal formalities and procedures relating to filing and receiving worker’s compensation.

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Workplace accidents can render an employee disabled for life. Such accidents may lead to severe complications and physical injuries that may require years of physical therapy, medication and rehabilitation. In some cases workplace injuries may even result in fatalities. The attorneys at Hawkins Law Firm have championed the rights of these victims for decades.

According to Oklahoma law, most companies and employers must have insurance in lieu of workers’ compensation. However, many of the injured victims of workplace injuries find it difficult to qualify for workers’ compensation. Having professional legal help in order to establish a workers’ compensation case may be beneficial to most injured workers and their dependents.

Workplace injuries often put an injured worker out of work. In cases where the worker was the sole breadwinner of the family, their financial pressures may become very serious. Paying for the exorbitant medical bills in addition to an already adverse financial situation is very difficult for most families. The attorneys at Hawkins Law Firm have access to medical and legal experts that may be able to formulate a solid case in a court of law.

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No matter what the job, there will always be risks involved. For this reason, workers are fortunate that Oklahoma laws are sound when it comes to workers’ compensation, so workers may obtain benefits after suffering from workplace injuries or an occupational disease. However, employers should also be aware of their duties, responsibilities and limitations when it comes to workers’ compensation benefits since their participation is crucial when obtaining these benefits.

Are companies that employ family members required to give workers’ compensation? Not necessarily. If a business employs five or fewer employees who are all related, either by blood or marriage, to the employer, that employer is not required to provide them insurance coverage.

How can Oklahoma companies get the insurance coverage for their workers? The state requires companies, assuming they fall under the necessary requirements, cover their employees with workers’ compensation insurance. Employers can obtain insurance from CompSource Oklahoma or buy it from a private insurance firm. Regardless of who handles the insurance, the benefits will remain unchanged.

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Most Oklahomans enjoy the security of their employer having workers’ compensation insurance. Many workers are not aware of the extent of the benefits available, however. Workers’ compensation can cover medical expenses, lost wages resulting from temporary or permanent disability, and death benefits.

What benefits can an Oklahoma worker receive after suffering a permanent disability related to work responsibilities? Workers’ compensation benefits are determined by the extent of the disability. A worker who sustains permanent disability, but is not considered totally disabled because he or she can still do some type of work, can receive Permanent Partial Impairment benefits. PPI benefits are 70 percent of a worker’s weekly base salary. For injuries incurred between August 27, 2010 until August 26, 2015, benefits will not exceed $323 per week.

On the other hand, if a worker is left totally disabled by a workplace accident, the worker can be eligible for Permanent Total Disability. A worker will be entitled to benefits for 15 years or until the maximum age for Social Security retirement benefits, whichever period is longer. A worker can receive no less than 70 percent of their average weekly wage. PTD benefits for Oklahoma workers can reach the maximum weekly wage allowed by state law.

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Oklahomans who are new to the state’s workforce are often most concerned about their salary, benefits, working conditions and work schedules. Although these are understandably important concerns, new employees – like older employees – should also know the basics of the state’s workers’ compensation system in case they ever need it in their work careers.

What is workers’ compensation? Workers’ compensation is an insurance program that provides financial benefits when an employee suffers a workplace injury or occupational disease or illness. Compensation can also be extended to the worker’s dependents or family in cases of fatal work accidents or serious work injuries that debilitate their family member.

Are all employees covered by workers’ compensation? No, but most workers are. The exceptions include independent contractors, some agricultural workers, volunteers who receive no salary and real estate brokers who only earn commissions. If a business employs five or fewer workers related by blood to the employer, the insurance also does not cover them.

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Missing a day of work, especially if it is unpaid, because of injury can adversely affect a worker’s financial situation. Imagine how much a worker will have to endure financially if more than a day or week’s pay is lost. Additionally, there are medical expenses, bills, household costs and other miscellaneous expenses to think about. Fortunately, most companies in Oklahoma provide workers’ compensation benefits for injured workers. However, how does a worker claim benefits in the first place?

The first step is to notify the employer of the injury in writing. Although employers should definitely be aware of the fact that one of their employees has been injured on the job, it is more than a formality. If a worker sustains an occupational disease, was exposed to toxins or experienced a workplace accident that resulted in injury, the worker should inform the employer in writing of the injury within 30 days. Otherwise, the injured worker may lose the right to claim benefits.

How will the employer participate in the process? After receiving the notice of injury, the employer will have 10 days to file an injury report with the Workers’ Compensation Commission. When the Commission receives the report, the Commission will inform the worker with a written notice to help the worker understand the claims process better. The employer, or its insurance carrier, will then inform the worker if it will accept the benefits claim or deny it.

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The process begins painfully when a Tulsa employee sustains an on-the-job injury. After you have received medical care and notified your employer of the injury, you can learn that your employer or their insurer has decided to contest the workers’ compensation benefits that are to replace a portion of your wages and cover your health care costs while you heal.

It is then that many Oklahoma workers will ask the Workers’ Compensation Court of Existing Claims to resolve the dispute between you and your employer or between you and your employer’s insurer.

The state says at this point you or your workers’ compensation attorney must at this point file a Motion to Set For Trial.

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