If you have been injured on the job in Oklahoma and your employer is refusing to provide workers’ compensation benefits voluntarily, you should discuss the situation with a dedicated workers’ compensation lawyer. First of all, you need to understand your legal rights and your options. Our experienced attorneys help hundreds of injured workers each year file appeals and pursue benefits after their workers’ comp claims have been denied.
The experienced Oklahoma workers’ compensation attorneys at Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons are dedicated to assisting injured employees with their workers’ comp claims. If you are having difficulty obtaining workers’ compensation benefits, we can file an appeal and help you work through Oklahoma’s complicated workers’ compensation system. We have more than 30 years of experience fighting for the rights of working people who sustained workplace injuries. Attorney Charles Simons has successfully represented injured workers at more than 2,000 workers’ comp hearings. Founding partner Patrick Ryan is a former chief judge of the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Court. We take pride in our one-on-one attention to clients.
Our legal team is available to answer all your questions in a free initial consultation, and we only collect a fee if we win your case for you. Contact us today at (800) 725-2222 to speak directly with a knowledgeable member of our team.
Can an Employer Deny Your Workers’ Comp Benefits?
Most employers in Oklahoma are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to protect employees in the event of an on-the-job accident. But not every injury is covered by workers’ comp. If you sustained an injury that was not a result of performing work activities, the employer may deny your workers’ compensation claim.
For example, if you sustained an injury in a car accident while driving to work, that would typically not be covered by workers’ compensation. But you may have other options.
Your employer also may deny workers’ comp benefits if you were injured at work while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.
The employer also may reject workers’ compensation benefits if you started roughhousing with co-workers on the job or started a fight at work and suffered an injury.
As an employee, you have certain rights and responsibilities related to claiming workers’ comp insurance benefits. You are required to notify your employer of the work-related injury promptly and to follow the doctor’s instructions and plan of treatment.
Unfortunately, many workers with valid workers’ injury claims are denied benefits. You have a right to have an experienced workers’ compensation denial lawyer review the reason your claim was turned down and explain your legal options to proceed.
You may have a right to file an appeal if your employer or the employer’s insurance administrator has denied your claim for benefits. If you are dealing with a workers’ comp claim denial, our experienced attorneys may be able to help.
The Reasons Your Claim May Be Denied
There are a number of reasons that workers’ compensation claims are denied:
Employment Status—Some employers will try to dispute your employment status or claim that you were an independent contractor to avoid paying your workers’ compensation claim. A knowledgeable workers’ comp attorney can file an appeal and present evidence showing that your work schedule and other aspects of your job were controlled by your employer, qualifying you as an employee under the law and giving you a right to workers’ compensation benefits.
Lack of Notification of Your Injury—If you are injured at work, you are required to notify your employer within 30 days of the accident, or within 30 days after you left your job because of cumulative trauma such as chronic lower back pain and a repetitive motion injury. Workers’ compensation administrators are more likely to question your claim or deny it if it was made months after the accident without prior notification. It is important to comply with the deadlines to give written notice of your workplace injury. If you miss the notification deadline, you may lose the right to claim workers’ compensation benefits.
Incomplete Information—A worker’s compensation insurance claims reviewer may reject your claim because it is incomplete, contains discrepancies or lacks adequate medical documentation of your workplace injury. An experienced attorney can review your claim and help you obtain the full medical records necessary to support your claim. In some cases, it may be helpful to seek a second medical opinion to add to your medical file.
Off-site Injury—Your employer may dispute your claim if the employer believes your injury did not occur on the job. An injury must occur while you are performing duties related to your job to qualify as a workplace injury. If you filed a workers’ comp claim after being laid off or terminated, the employer also may flag your claim.
Causation—A claim may be disputed because the workers’ comp administrator does not see a causal connection between the on-the-job accident and the injuries the worker reports having sustained. Obtaining another doctor’s assessment of your injuries may help clarify the relationship between your job and your injuries.
Failing to Follow Doctor’s Instructions—Failing to comply with the doctor’s orders is another reason your benefits may be denied or stopped. If you fail to keep follow-up doctor’s appointments or don’t complete physical therapy, the insurance administrator may decide your injuries are less serious than reported and halt your benefits.
As an employee, whether full-time or part-time, you may have a right to receive necessary medical treatment after a workplace accident. If there is a dispute about your benefits, you may need to file an appeal.
What to Do After You Have Been Denied Benefits
If your employer is disputing your eligibility for workers’ comp benefits, you should seek the guidance of a knowledgeable workers’ comp attorney.
You may need to file a claim with the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission to preserve your rights.
An attorney can help you gather evidence and represent you at an informal pre-hearing conference to try to resolve the case. Our attorneys also can represent you at a formal hearing before an administrative law judge.
Your Right to Appeal After a Denial
You have a legal right to file an appeal if your workers’ comp claim has been denied or your benefits have been suspended or terminated.
The appeal will be heard by the Workers’ Compensation Commission. You will have an opportunity to present your case to a judge and show why you should receive benefits.
Why You Should Hire an Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
As an injured worker who is appealing a denied worker’s comp claim, you have the burden of proof to gather evidence and show that you have a valid claim under Oklahoma workers’ compensation law. That is challenging, particularly if you also are dealing with the effects of a serious injury.
The appeals process is a complex, legal process that gives each side a certain amount of time to gather and exchange documentary evidence, records and gather testimony through the discovery process.
The formal hearing before the Workers’ Compensation Commission is similar to a non-jury trial in an Oklahoma court with the admission of evidence and testimony of witnesses and medical experts. The judge’s decision will be based on the law and the evidence presented in the case.
If you pursue an appeal, your employer or the employer’s workers’ comp administrator is required to have legal representation. You have the right to have a lawyer represent you. You will be at a decided disadvantage if you do not have a lawyer protecting your rights.
You should be represented by a lawyer who is experienced at handling workers’ comp appeals and can present your strongest case for benefits. An experienced lawyer can seek to negotiate a settlement and represent you at a hearing, if necessary, before the Workers’ Compensation Commission.
If you have been seriously injured at work, you have too much riding on the outcome to try to handle the situation by yourself. You will have a better chance of achieving a favorable outcome if you have an experienced Oklahoma worker’s comp attorney standing up for you.
Contact an Oklahoma City Workers’ Comp Attorney
Our attorneys at Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons, based in Oklahoma City, have the knowledge and experience to handle the most complicated workers’ compensation appeals. We represent hardworking Oklahomans throughout the state.
Contact us today to speak with an experienced attorney who can review your workplace injury claim and help you decide how best to proceed. We have the experience to guide you through Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation system and protect your rights.Get Started