You should focus on your recovery after suffering an on-the-job injury, but instead you probably worry about who pays your medical bills and how to provide for your family. You more than likely know workers' compensation exists, but might not understand what benefits you receive, how you qualify for them and what you need to do to receive them.
Does workers' compensation insurance cover my injuries?
You are entitled to workers' compensation benefits unless you fall into one of the following categories:
- Business owners
- Independent contractors
- Farmers and farmhands
- Casual workers
- Employees of private homes
- Railroad workers
- Maritime workers
If you work for the federal government, your benefits come from the federal workers' compensation system and not from the state of Oklahoma.
What benefits does workers' compensation provide?
Whether your injury or illness occurred in an accident or developed over time (such as repetitive motion injuries), workers' compensation offers the following benefits, depending on the severity of your injuries and your prognosis:
- Medical care related to your injury or illness
- Replacement income (usually two-thirds of your average income)
- Retraining costs
- Compensation for your injuries (if permanent)
- Benefits to surviving family members for a work-related death
Please note that replacement income does not incur tax liability and ordinarily begins after you miss a few days of work due to your injury or illness.
In most circumstances, if you accept workers' compensation benefits, the law bars you from filing a lawsuit against your employer. If you choose to sue, you forfeit your rights to receive benefits from workers' compensation. Additionally, under workers' compensation, you will not be reimbursed for your pain and suffering. At the same time, the law precludes your employer from terminating your employment due to a work-related illness or injury.
Obtaining the benefits available to you often involves a tremendous amount of paperwork and other requirements. The added stress caused by attempting to navigate the system alone may not help in your recovery. To ensure that you receive the appropriate benefits, you would more than likely benefit from discussing the matter with an attorney. This becomes even more urgent if your employer or the insurance company attempts to deny you benefits.