If you have been injured on the job, you understandably have concerns. Fully recovering your health is of course your number one priority, but you’re also worried about your job. What if you can’t work for an extended period of time? What if you need a lengthy rehab? Where is the money for all this going to come from? An overview of how the worker’s compensation system works can answer many of these questions.
A No-Fault System
If you were to suffer a fall and get hurt, say in a retail store, you could possibly have a personal injury case. You would have to prove negligence on behalf of someone at the store, but if so, you could recover damages by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Worker’s compensation was developed in recognition that injuries at work are a common occurrence, and a multitude of personal injury lawsuits would be disruptive and detrimental to the workplace. Under worker’s comp, employees get covered for compensable injuries and employers are protected from personal injury claims.
What is Covered by Worker’s Comp
The injured worker has the right to compensation for medical and rehabilitation benefits. If a worker’s injuries lead to death, the worker’s dependents receive benefits. The employer pays what is essentially an insurance premium to cover all employees. There are dollar limits set by state law for worker’s comp claims and no recovery is allowed for pain and suffering.
Who is Covered by Worker’s Comp
The general rule is that everyone in the state of Oklahoma who is an employee is covered, but the following are some of the statutory EXEMPTIONS:
- • Certain federal workers
- • Certain agricultural workers
- • Sole proprietors
- • Members of a partnership
- • Certain members of a limited liability company
- • Certain stockholders of a corporation
- • Independent contractors
Although the law is clear independent contractors are not covered by worker’s comp, the standards regarding what makes a particular individual a contractor and not an employee are somewhat murkier. In many cases, employers prefer to categorize a certain group of workers as independent contractors for a variety of reasons. Some of the reasons include not having to withhold and contribute to payroll taxes, not having to pay overtime and not having to carry worker’s compensation coverage. The fact the employer declares you to be a contractor is not definitive. If you are injured at your place of work, your status as a worker may be challenged.
Third Party Liability
Accidents at work can involve multiple causes and therefore more than one person. For instance, you may not be able to sue your boss, but you may have a cause of action against a co-worker, vendor or the manufacturer of a machine or piece of equipment that caused or contributed to your injuries. A thorough investigation of all the facts and circumstances of the incident may be required.
Failure of Employer to Carry Coverage
If you are properly classified as an employee, yet your company does not provide coverage, you may choose to pursue a claim through the worker’s compensation system or through filing suit in district court but not both.
If you or a loved one would like more information on workers compensation please contact the law office of Bryan Garrett personal injury attorney today! At the Bryan Garrett personal injury law firm we will fight for you!