If your claim for workers’ compensation benefits has been disputed by your employer or the insurance administrator, you may need to file a request for a hearing before the Oklahoma Workers Compensation Commission. It’s helpful to know what to expect.
The Oklahoma workers’ compensation attorneys at Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons are dedicated to helping injured employees fight for full workers’ compensation benefits. Most employees hired in Oklahoma who are injured on the job are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. If you have received a letter denying your request for workers’ compensation benefits, talk to a workers’ comp attorney about your legal options. During a free consultation, our workers’ comp lawyers can review your injury and help you understand whether seeking a hearing is appropriate.
Our knowledgeable attorneys have more than 30 years of experience standing up for hardworking Oklahomans who have sustained on-the-job injuries. Attorney Charles Simons has handled more than 4,000 workers’ compensation claims on behalf of injured workers. Founding partner Patrick Ryan is a former chief judge of the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Court. We offer one-on-one attention to clients and take pride in treating clients with courtesy and respect.
What to Expect in a Workers’ Comp Trial in Oklahoma
If your employer has disputed your right to receive workers’ compensation benefits, an attorney can file a request for a hearing to challenge the denial. The Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission is the state agency responsible for conducting hearings on workers’ compensation disputes for injuries occurring on or after Feb. 1, 2014.
Many claims are settled informally through mediation between the employee and employer. Mediation is a voluntary informal process used to try to bring together the opposing sides to reach a settlement. Court approval of all settlements is required. If the dispute cannot be resolved, you may ask the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission to hear the case. You or your attorney must file a Form 9 to request that the case be set for trial.
A pre-hearing conference is an informal meeting with an administrative law judge that may provide an opportunity for you and your employer to discuss the issues and try to resolve the claim dispute without a formal hearing.
A hearing is a formal judicial process much like a non-jury trial in an Oklahoma court. The two opposing sides present arguments, question witnesses and present a case before a judge. The injured worker must introduce evidence to prove that his or her injury happened in the course of employment and that he or she is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
An attorney at Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons can represent you at the pre-hearing conference and present your case at the workers’ compensation hearing. Our attorney can advocate on your behalf for the benefits you are entitled to by law.
Why You Need a Lawyer on Your Side During a Workers’ Comp Hearing
You are not required to be represented by a lawyer at a hearing. However, having a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer represent you is in your best interest to protect your rights. Your employer’s insurance carrier will have a lawyer advocating on its behalf.
As the injured employee, you have the burden of proof to prove that you sustained an injury on the job and that your claim is covered by Oklahoma workers’ compensation law. Having a lawyer representing you improves your odds of winning a workers’ comp case. A lawyer understands the Rules of Procedure. You will be at a disadvantage if you appear at the hearing without a lawyer.
A lawyer can keep track of filing deadlines in the workers’ compensation case. Once a hearing date is scheduled, the two sides have until 20 days before the hearing to exchange documents, evidence and lists of witnesses. Medical reports must be exchanged no later than 7 days before the hearing.
A lawyer can schedule depositions of witnesses and conduct discovery to gather evidence to support your claim. The transcript of the depositions may be introduced as evidence. A lawyer can introduce medical records of your workplace injury and discuss its effect on your ability to perform your job.
An attorney can have witnesses present testimony supporting your eligibility for benefits. Winning a workers comp case often depends on the testimony of the witnesses, including co-workers who witnessed the accident and doctors who testify on your behalf.
Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation system provides benefits to injured employees. But navigating the hearing process is complicated, and the experience of the attorney guiding you does matter. Hearings are typically held in Oklahoma City.
If you have a disputed workers’ comp claim, you need the help of an experienced OK worker’s comp attorney who knows this area of law and can present your strongest case for benefits.
The Oklahoma City workers comp attorneys at Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons have handled thousands of workers’ compensation cases. Our legal team will use our decades of experience to assist you. We take pride in standing up for hardworking Oklahomans who are injured on the job and deserve assistance.
How Will the Judge Make a Decision?
The administrative law judge who hears your case will make a decision based on the facts of the case including the medical evidence and witness testimony, and the applicable section of the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Code.
The judge will determine whether the employer is legally responsible for paying for medical care for your injury and providing other workers’ compensation benefits including temporary partial or total disability payments or permanent disability compensation.
The judge will issue a written decision regarding what, if any, workers’ compensation benefits should be awarded. In most cases, the decision is not made at the time of the hearing. The judge typically reviews the law and issues a decision after the hearing.
If you disagree with the judge’s decision, you may file a Request for Review with the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission within 10 days of the date of the judge’s order. The Commission will make a decision on appeal.
How to Schedule a Hearing Before a Workers’ Comp Judge in Oklahoma
A pre-hearing conference is an informal hearing that includes the injured worker, the employer, and a judge. It offers a chance to discuss the facts, identify the issues involve and make an effort to resolve the case without a formal administrative hearing.
Either the employer or the injured worker may request a pre-hearing conference.
When a hearing is requested, the opposing sides have up to 20 days to before the hearing date to exchange evidence, exhibits and a list of witnesses who may appear.
A knowledgeable workers’ comp lawyer can make all the difference between success and failure if your case goes to trial before an Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission judge. You want to work with an attorney who has handled many workers’ compensation cases.
Contact an Oklahoma City Workers’ Comp Lawyer
Our experienced workers’ comp attorneys at Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons have handled thousands of workers’ compensation cases. We represent injured workers in Oklahoma City and throughout the state. Call or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation about your workplace accident claim.