This content written for Willhoite Law, PLLC
Oklahoma provides a safety net for injured workers. That system is the worker’s compensation system. Up until February 2nd, 2014 it was a court system. From February 1st, 2014 forward it has become an administrative law system. The difference is instead of having an independent judiciary, you now have a government agency with government employees as the administrative law judges to determine the cases.
The bill that was written for the workers’ compensation system had many areas that were unclear in the law. One by one the Oklahoma Supreme Court has been addressing the shortfalls and has been issuing cases to explain what the law means or what is allowed and what is not allowed under the statute. Fortunately workers’ compensation attorney have objected to the law and fought it before the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
Although the law passed back before 2014 there are old cases that were filed back before February 1st, 2014 and those cases continue under the court system. They call that court system the court of existing claims. They will hear people’s cases, they’re reopened and when they need more treatment, things of that nature.
But for any injuries that occurred February 1st, 2014 and on, those are all heard on by an administrative law judge. Typically whenever an in person is injured, they report that injury to their work. Their work should send them off to have medical treatment. That doesn’t always occur. If not, you can file a document with the administrative law system called a cc-form-3 to start the case off. You’re filing in the administrative law judge system under the present Oklahoma Worker’s compensation law.
An injured worker is entitled to get their medical bills paid for. They’re entitled to get their prescriptions paid for. They’re also entitled to get mileage if they have to travel over a certain distance. If the doctor says they’re unable to work due to their work related injuries, then the injured employee is entitled to get compensated. The compensation is called temporary total disability. Those are weekly amounts paid while the employee is unable to work. You should consult a workers’ compensation attorney for what you are entitled in your specific situation.
Once an employee has received all their medical treatment and the doctor releases him that what’s called Maximum medical improvement. In other words, no matter what else the doctor does, they will not make the injured person any better. They will just keep them at the same level they are at present things, but anyway, once they are released at maximum medical improvement, they’re entitled to get compensation for any kind of permanent impairment they may have. Perhaps it’s a limited range of motion. Perhaps it’s continued pain or discomfort. Um, there can be numerous items as long as the permanent than the boys entitled to get some benefit for that.
If an employee cannot return to work, then they may be entitled to get retrained into some other job. This is typically referred to as vocational rehabilitation. It’s throughout the course of a workers’ compensation claim. Hopefully everything will go as it’s supposed to, but the employers do not always do what they are required under the law. In that case, the hearing may be needed to have the administrative law judge order then to do what they were supposed to be doing in the first place. Typically when the employer is not doing what they supposed to, a temporary hearing will be requested at this temporary hearing.
A lot of times there’ll be a request that they be provided medical treatment. There may also be a request that they be provided temporary total disability while they’re unable to work. There are caps on how much your temporary total disability award can be, but typically they’re about 70% of what your average weekly wages are.
The argument that the employer has for only paying 70% instead of a 100% of the lost wage is that those weekly benefits may not be taxed. For instance, if a person were earning a certain amount per week, they’re going to have to pay taxes on it, so they’re going to be netting a lesser amount, or at least that’s the argument, and that’s why they only pay 70% because they claim you don’t get taxed on your 70% so you’re supposedly come out about the same. However, if you’re making a lower amount per week, you may not have any taxes that are withheld from that amount, or you may have a small amount, but you’re most likely not going to have 30% of your wages withheld for taxes. Now people who have higher paying jobs that may be true, but that’s not typical of people making minimum wage or working part time where they make less than minimum wage per week. As you may be able to tell a workers’ compensation attorney who represents injured workers was not the person who wrote the new law.
The employers and their insurance companies have lots of resources to hire lobbyists to try to get the law to state what’s most beneficial to them. Most workers in Oklahoma had the attitude that they’re not going to get injured so they don’t pay as much attention to what kind of rights they have or they’ll giving up when the legislature votes to change who worker’s compensation rules. As a result, the worker’s compensation protections have become less and less over the years. Whenever you need relief from the workers’ compensation system, get a workers’ compensation attorney to file and request a hearing. That hearing will then come up by pre hearing conference docket in front of a judge at that docket. The judge will then determine whether a hearing is needed, how many witnesses are inspected, how much time to be required for the hearing, and then they will have the hearing set for trial at a later date.
When you need a workers’ compensation attorney, call Willhoite Law, PLLC.