Workers' Compensation Lawyers in McAlester
Providing Relentless Representation in Oklahoma for 60+ Years
Employees who are injured in the workplace have the right to Oklahoma workers’ compensation benefits without the need to prove the employer was at fault. Workers who suffer an occupational illness can also pursue damages. For a claim to be successful, the worker has to be an employee of an eligible Oklahoma business, the accident or illness has to be work-related, and the injuries have to relate to the accident.
At Stipe Law Firm, our McAlester workers’ compensation attorneys understand all aspects of work injury law. We understand the eligibility rules, the full range of benefits that workers are allowed, and what employers can and cannot do. We work to make sure employees do not have to return to work until they are physically and emotionally able to do the job. In addition to wage-loss benefits, medical benefits, and compensation for permanent or total disabilities, we also handle death claims and requests for vocational rehabilitation. Our lawyers have a strong track record of trying cases and negotiating long-term settlements.
Benefits & Disability Classifications
The classification of the injury normally determines how long the worker gets benefits. The possible classifications are:
- Partial permanent impairment. Partial permanent impairment (PPI) is a disability that limits the type of work a claimant can do but does not prevent him or her from doing any type of work. PPD claimants get paid depending on the nature of their injury and on the Oklahoma schedule of injuries. People who suffer the loss of their arms, legs, hands, or feet are paid according to the state schedule. Workers who have a PPD that is not listed on the schedule can still get partial benefits. Normally, a physician will analyze your injuries and come up with a percentage of impairment based on American Medical Association guidelines.
- Temporary total disability. Temporary total disability (TTD) means the worker cannot do his or her prior job until the injuries heal. Many injuries, such as fractures and bruises, do heal with proper medical treatment. Workers with TTD get their 70% weekly payment until they can return to work, up to a state limit of 156 weeks. Workers with a serious injury may be entitled to an additional 52 weeks.
- Permanent total disability. Permanent total disability (PTD) prevents the worker from ever working again. The 70% payment is paid until the worker reaches Social Security retirement age, or up to 15 years, whichever is longer.
Filing a third-party claim can be a complicated process. Workers who are employees generally file two claims. The first is the workers’ compensation claim. The second claim is the lawsuit against a responsible third party. Claimants do not have to prove fault in a workers’ compensation case. In direct third-party cases, the claimant normally has to show fault or that a defective product caused their injuries.
Independent contractors are not employed by a company. They are normally hired to do work for a short period of time. If an independent contractor is hurt, this worker can bring a claim against anyone or any company responsible.
Can An Employee Be Fired or Retaliated Against for Filing a Workers' Compensation Claim in OK?
Under Oklahoma law, employers are forbidden from retaliating against workers for filing workers' compensation claims. The state has specific statutes in place to protect employees from retaliation or discrimination due to their exercise of workers' compensation rights. If an employee suspects retaliation for filing a workers' compensation claim in Oklahoma, they may have legal recourse and should consult with an attorney to understand their rights and potential remedies.
Our McAlester workers’ compensation lawyers advise clients on their core responsibilities. We obtain the necessary records from employers about wages and work with the doctors to ensure that you get the treatment the law allows, that reports are properly prepared and that all medical issues are addressed. Medical issues include properly categorizing your disability as temporary, partially permanent, or totally permanent. We review when you can return to work and what duties you can really perform.
Some of the key requirements in the initial filing of the claim are:
- Timely filing. Claims for injuries due to an accident generally need to be filed within two years of the date of the accident or the date of death. Claims for illnesses may have longer time limits depending on when you became aware the illness was work-related. There are additional exceptions that our McAlester workers’ compensation lawyers review with each client.
- The right forms need to be used. Different forms are used depending on if you had an accident or if you suffered an illness. Claims are filed in the Oklahoma workers’ compensation court. We can help ensure you properly fill out and file the correct forms.
- Filing of the claim starts the wage payment clock. Claimants normally have to wait a week before wage benefits begin. To get reimbursement for the initial first week, claimants have to be out of work for 21 days. Claimants should get 70% of their average weekly wage from the second week forward until they can return to work, with some exceptions that we can explain.
- Filing the claims starts the medical reimbursement clock. Injured workers do not have an automatic right to get their medical bills paid. A formal claim has to be made.
These are several reasons why you should file a claim immediately following your injury:
- It makes it easier to assert that the injuries relate to the accident. Employers will try to use the delay to argue your injuries were due to a non-work activity.
- Employers will argue that if the injuries were really serious, the employee would have acted immediately.
- Employees should normally file an injury report and get medical care within 30 days or the employer may deny the claim. This 30-day requirement applies if the employee suffered the injury due to a single event.
- For occupational diseases and injuries, such as repetitive stress, employees have to give notice of the injury within 90 days from the date the employee stops working.
Should I Hire an Attorney for My Workers Compensation Claim?
The experienced attorneys at Stipe Law Firm are well versed in workers’ compensation law and will fight as true advocates on your side. Unlike insurance companies, our team will pursue your best interest and fight for the compensation you deserve so you can focus on recovering from your injuries. Contact us today to find out how we can help you especially if:
- You have a preexisting condition
- Your claim has been denied
- Your permanent disability rating has been challenged
- You have a workers’ compensation hearing coming up
- You are already receiving other government benefits