Step One: Notifying Your Employer of the Injury
Notify your employer immediately (notification is required within 30 days of the incident, injury, or the date on which you discover an illness is work-related). If you don’t notify your employer of the injury, incident, or illness within 30 days, your ability to recover workers’ compensation benefits may be limited.
Step Two: Filing Form 3 with the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission
After you notify your employer of the situation, you must file Form 3, “Employee’s First Notice of Accidental Injury and Claim for Compensation,” with the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation commission. Employers are required to file a report with the Commission within ten days of having knowledge of any work death or injury that results in more than three days away from work. This report is not a claim and does not protect workers’ rights. It’s important to consider that while the employer is working with their insurer, the services, mediation, etc., offered by the Commission are not in place to protect the employee’s rights but to help both parties move through the claims process. As such, injured workers can greatly benefit from working with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney right from the beginning of their claim process.
Step Three: Receipt of the Injured Worker Notice
After the Commission receives the employer’s injury report, they issue a notice about mediation services and the Commission’s Counselor Division to explain how these services may help during the claims process.
Step Four: Receipt of Employer’s Statement of Intent
Within 15 days of the employer’s receipt of notice of the injury,* your employer (or their insurance carrier) is required to issue you a statement of their intent to accept or deny any right to compensation.
*Unless the Commission extends the time. If the Commission extends this deadline, you, the injured worker, will receive a copy of CC-Form-2A Extension, allowing the employer more time to gather info about the situation and file CC-Form-2A.
Step Five: Mediation
If you receive the employer’s statement of intent and they deny the right to compensation, you have access to voluntary, informal mediation services through the Counselor Division. Mediation services provide a neutral person to help both parties understand the situation and work toward an agreed-upon resolution. Mediation is available throughout the entire Oklahoma workers’ compensation claims process.
Step Six: Filing a Claim for Compensation
To protect your rights as an injured worker, you may file a claim for compensation with the Commission. The claim (CC-Form-3) must be filed within one year of the date of the injury (deadlines may vary depending on the type of claim). Missing the associated deadline for your claim may result in the claim being barred forever.
Step Seven: Prehearing Conference and Hearing
After the compensation claim is filed, the injured worker may request a prehearing conference or hearing before the Commission Administrative Law Judge (ALJ); this can be helpful if there are disputed issues to discuss. The prehearing conference is an informal meeting including both parties and the ALJ. The conference is held before the hearing is scheduled. Conducting a prehearing conference allows both parties to discuss any disputed issues and consider settlement.
Step Eight: Schedule a Hearing
If you and your employer cannot agree on a resolution, a hearing is scheduled. A hearing is a formal proceeding where the ALJ hears evidence presented by both parties. Evidence may include medical records, other documents supporting the injury, testimony, etc. The ALJ decides on the matter after considering the evidence presented under the law. The ALJ’s written decision is sent to both parties (employer and employee) within 30 days after the record closes.
Step Nine: Filing an Appeal for Your Workers’ Comp Claim
Either party may file an appeal to the full Commission within ten days of the date of the ALJ’s decision. Either party may appeal to the Oklahoma Supreme Court within 20 days of the full Commission’s decision.
Step Ten: Settling Your Workers’ Comp Claim
At any time during the workers’ compensation claims process, you may agree to settle all or part of your claim for compensation for a workplace injury by coming to an agreement with the employer/their insurance carrier. When a claim is settled, no formal hearing is necessary. The terms of the settlement must be in writing on a document referred to as a “Joint Petition Settlement.” The settlement must also be approved by an ALJ.
Navigating the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Claim Process:
Navigating the general workers’ compensation claims process in Oklahoma can be difficult. Filing your claim properly and ensuring all the necessary information is included and accurate is essential for your claim to be handled promptly. In addition, obtaining assistance from an experienced employment law attorney specializing in workers’ compensation claims can help cover you in the event issues or disputes arise to prevent your claim’s approval.
If you believe you are eligible for workers’ compensation and need to file an Oklahoma workers’ compensation claim, contact Armstrong & Vaught P.L.C., Tulsa’s Premier Workers’ Compensation, Employment, and Social Security Law attorneys. We have the experience you need on your side.