Oklahoma workers that receive an injury at work may question when to file a Workers’ Compensation claim. Is the injury serious enough to warrant filing a report and injury claim with their employer? Or is it relatively minor and likely not a “compensable injury” under the guidelines for Workers’ Compensation? Could there be trouble later if an injury report is not filed with the employer? Here’s some advice from an OK Workers’ Compensation Attorney for when a work injury is serious enough to report.
What is Considered a Workplace Injury?
Oklahoma law (85A OK Stat § 85A-2(9)(a) Compensable Injury) spells out what is considered a “compensable injury” for the purposes of Workers’ Compensation:
- a. “Compensable injury” means damage or harm to the physical structure of the body, or damage or harm to prosthetic appliances, including eyeglasses, contact lenses, or hearing aids, of which the major cause is either an accident, cumulative trauma or occupational disease arising out of the course and scope of employment. An “accident” means an event involving factors external to the employee that:
- was unintended, unanticipated, unforeseen, unplanned and unexpected,
- occurred at a specifically identifiable time and place,
- occurred by chance or from unknown causes, or
- was independent of sickness, mental incapacity, bodily infirmity or any other cause.
It further spells out what types of injuries are not covered, which include those from fighting, horseplay, pre-existing conditions or actions while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Most injuries that occur on the job are, therefore, covered under Workers’ Compensation insurance. However, the law also stipulates that compensable injuries must be supported by medical evidence.
What If My Workplace Injury Is Minor?
If you sustain any type of injury at work in Oklahoma, consider what is required to address the injury as a guide for whether or not to file a Workers’ Compensation claim. If you can completely handle what is required to treat the injury from a readily available First-Aid Kit on-site (Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, tape, gauze, etc.) and then return to your duties, you likely don’t need to file a claim with Workers’ Compensation.
You may still need to report the injury to your employer or supervisor so they may record it. Check with your supervisor or Employee Handbook to see what injuries must be reported. Additionally, it is probably a good idea to report any injury so there is an official record, just in case the condition escalates and needs medical treatment later. For example, a small cut you treated and bandaged yourself could later become infected and require professional treatment.
Filing an Injury Claim with Workers’ Compensation
As soon as you suffer an injury at work, you should make a report and file a Workers’ Compensation claim. You have 30 days from the date of the incident to file a claim. Any undue delay in filing a claim could result in a rejection, due to the insurance company not believing the claim is serious.
Here are the steps to follow if you become injured at work:
- Report the injury to your immediate supervisor and complete an injury report.
- Obtain treatment for your injury as soon as possible.
- Document the incident in question and your injury. Include as many details as possible and testimony from any witnesses.
- File a claim through your employer with Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation (your employer may handle this).
- Follow the treating physician’s instructions for care, including all follow-up visits, therapy appointments, etc.
- Be available if any meetings or hearings are required by Workers’ Compensation.
Partner with a Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Tulsa, OK
Workers’ Compensation claims can become complicated, and it is always a good idea to partner with an experienced Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Attorney to protect your rights. Your attorney can follow the claims and treatment process closely to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and handle any problems or discrepancies.
The Armstrong Law Firm, PLC can also represent you if there is some problem with your claim. We can represent you before the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission and work to see that your claim is approved, so you can receive the medical treatment and other benefits you deserve. Contact us by phone at 918-582-2500 or send a message online to schedule a confidential consultation with us in Tulsa.