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Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Benefit Claims Can Be Complicated

Our lawyers can help you demand compensation, file a lawsuit if necessary

Workers' compensation benefits can make a dramatic difference after a workplace injury or illness. If you have been hurt on the job or cannot work because of a serious illness you sustained at work, you are eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits under Oklahoma law.

Not sure if you're eligible for workers' compensation benefits? Has your workers' compensation benefit claim been denied? Know your rights. Contact Lawter & Associates, PLLC. Our experienced attorneys can be your advocates for justice and demand the benefits you deserve under Oklahoma law.

We know what we're doing because we've been doing this work for more than 40 years. That's why we understand how the workers' compensation benefits system works in Oklahoma and what needs to be done to make things right.

Understanding Workers' Comp Benefits infographic

Click here to download a printable version.

What types of workers' compensation benefits exist in Oklahoma?

According to Oklahoma's Workers Compensation Act, employers must provide workers' compensation coverage to employees if they become ill at work or sustain an injury on the job. Workers' compensation benefits cover a wide range of workplace injuries and illnesses, including:

  • Lost wages - If you cannot work (or work less time) because of a workplace injury or illness, you must be compensated for lost wages.
  • Lost future earnings if applicable - Future earnings refers to compensation you would have received in the future if you had been healthy and able to work.
  • Medical expenses - This is often the largest expense sick or injured workers incur because of an on-the-job injury or illness.
  • Permanent disability benefits - A term used to describe benefits paid to sick or injured workers who are permanently disabled because of a workplace illness or on-the-job injury. In general, there are often two main types of permanent disability benefits:
    • Permanent total disability (PTD) benefits – People who cannot work permanently due to their workplace injury or illness are eligible to receive such benefits.
    • Permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits – People who work less hours or perform a lower paying job permanent due to their workplace injury or illness are eligible or such benefits.
  • Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits - A term used to describe benefits for sick or injured workers who cannot work at all temporarily because of a disabling injury.
  • Temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits - A term used to describe benefits for sick or injured workers who can perform some work but in a limited capacity temporarily because of a disabling injury or illness.
  • Disfigurement - Injuries that result in permanent scarring or loss of teeth.
  • Death benefits - Workers' compensation benefits paid to family members who have lost loved ones because of a workplace illness or on-the-job injury.

Why should I hire an attorney for my benefits claim?

It can be difficult to decide which attorney or law firm is right for you. Large law firms often treat people like numbers. Small law firms often aren't equipped to handle big, complicated cases. We provide clients with the best of both - personalized service from experienced attorneys.

You have too much riding on the outcome of your case to leave your future to chance. Contact us and put the power of a results-driven law firm to work for you. Call (866) 584-1027 for our Oklahoma City office or (866) 584-1028 for our Tulsa office and schedule a free case evaluation.

Frequently asked questions about workers' compensation benefits in Oklahoma:

How do I apply for workers' compensation benefits in Oklahoma?

You must notify your employer within 30 days of your workplace injury or illness to be eligible for workers' compensation benefits in Oklahoma. Failure to give notice of the accident to the employer or seek medical attention within 30 days could result in the loss of workers' compensation benefits. Hernias are treated differently and require a 5-day notice. Even if you didn't timely notify your employer you should seek the advice of a seasoned lawyer who can see if some exceptions apply.

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Why are applications for benefits denied?

There are many reasons why requests for workers’ compensation benefits are denied. Some of the most common reasons why include you sustained your injury outside of work, you have a pre-existing medical condition, or you failed to notify your employer about your injury in a timely manner. Other reasons why include you failed to provide evidence of your injury or you failed to follow the doctor’s instructions after your workplace injury. Whatever the reason why, it’s important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible after your application for workers’ compensation benefits has been denied.

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Who decides if I'm eligible for workers' compensation benefits?

Your employer will decide whether you should receive workers' compensation benefits. Most employers base their decision on the opinion of the doctor who examined you to determine the severity of your workplace injury or illness. If your employer or its insurance carrier fails to do what is right, you have a right to have a hearing where you can put on evidence and have a judge order benefits to start.

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Can I receive benefits if I have a pre-existing medical condition?

Yes. However, you will likely need to provide evidence that the injury or illness you sustained at work is different from your pre-existing medical condition or that your workplace injury illness made your existing medical condition worse. That’s why it’s important to have a medical professional examine you right away. Then talk to an attorney right away familiar with  complex legal cases.

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Can I choose which doctor treats my injury?

Under Oklahoma law, your employer has the right to choose the doctor who treats your workplace injury. However, you may be able to choose your own physician if your employer fails to provide medical treatment within 7 days of your injury. These rules also do not apply if you are seeking emergency medical care for your workplace injury or illness. In addition, whether you can choose another doctor depends on whether your employer has a certified workplace medical plan (CWMP). If you are unclear about who you can choose to treat your workplace injury or illness, talk to your employer or the attorney handling your case.

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What is the difference between permanent and temporary disability benefits?

In general, Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation system defines temporary injuries as ones that last less than 156 weeks or 3 years. If your injury last longer than 156 weeks or 3 years, your injury is considered permanent under Oklahoma law in most cases.

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How much money can I receive in workers' compensation benefits?

The amount of money varies greatly depending on the nature of your injury. In general, you can receive up to 70 percent of our average weekly wage in workers' compensation benefits, according to the Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Court of Existing Claims. The maximum amount you can receive also depends on when you were injured. If you were injured between Nov. 1, 2013, and Jan. 31, 2014, for example, the maximum weekly rate is $801 in temporary total disability benefits. For injuries after Feb. 1, 2014, the maximum rate varies and is based on Oklahoma’s “state average weekly wage” which is periodically adjusted. For example, the maximum temporary total disability rate for workplace injuries that occurred in 2019 is $607 per week.

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How long can I receive workers' compensation benefits?

The time limit varies. If you have a permanent disability because of a workplace injury or illness, you could be eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits until your normal retirement age or 15 years, whichever is longer. If you have a temporary total disability, the time limit to receive workers' compensation benefits, depending on the type of injury ranges from 8 weeks to 156 weeks. That time limit can sometimes be extended for additional 52 weeks for injuries occurring before Feb. 1, 2014.

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What are reasons why existing benefits claims are stopped?

There are many reasons why previously approved workers’ compensation claims are denied or revoked. Sometimes, it’s because the doctor assigned to treat your injury claims you are healthy enough to return to work full time. Other times, your benefits may be revoked by your employer’s insurance company for a variety of reasons, including allegations that you are not actually sick or injured. Fortunately, your attorney can help you take legal action if you believe your benefits have wrongly been revoked or cancelled.

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What should I do if my workers' compensation benefits are denied or stopped?

You have the right to file an appeal if your workers' compensation benefits have been terminated or your application for benefits has been denied. The Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Court of Existing Claims rules on such appeals.

Don't try to tackle such complicated cases on your own. Hire an experienced Oklahoma workers' compensation benefits lawyer to make sure your appeal receives the attention it rightfully deserves.

Contact Lawter & Associates, PLLC, and schedule an appointment today. We're conveniently located in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Call (866) 584-1027 for our Oklahoma City office or (866) 584-1028 for our Tulsa office.

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Oklahoma City Office

3313 N Classen Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK 73118

Toll Free: 866-584-1027
Local: 405-525-4131

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Tulsa Office

6450 S Lewis Ave #100
Tulsa, OK 74136

Toll Free: 866-584-1028
Local: 918-496-9577

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