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.
How does an injured worker apply for workers’ compensation benefits? The worker must immediately inform his or her employer in writing of the injury. The employer will then inform the company’s insurance provider. A representative, usually a legal professional, can do this on behalf of a worker, especially when the injury makes it difficult for a worker to handle the claims process.
Will a worker need to pay any part of the medical assistance received? No. Both the employer and the insurance provider will pay the necessary medical expenses.
Does filing for workers’ compensation mean that an injured worker cannot take legal action against an employer? Yes. An employer can no longer be sued once a workers’ compensation claim is approved. However, a worker, with guidance from a legal advocate, can still file a claim to hold a third party responsible for the accident and ensuing injuries. It could also bring compensation to help a worker with financial injuries.
While these steps are only suggestive, a worker injured in the work environment should understand whether they could benefit from a worker’s compensation claim. Seeking guidance will ensure they understand their rights and take appropriate action.
Source: Owcc.state.ok.us, “Employee’s FAQ,” Accessed on Nov. 19, 2014
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