When people get injured in stores and other places of business, they often rely on either security footage or witness statements from workers, supervisors, or customers to confirm their injuries happened when and where they say they did.
However, some on-the-job injuries occur in areas or workplaces where there are no cameras and where no witnesses are present. That means injured workers have only on their word to get benefits.
If you were recently injured at work and no one witnessed it, you aren’t out of luck when it comes to getting workers’ compensation.
Thankfully, it’s still possible to get workers’ comp benefits without camera footage or witnesses, and here’s why.
Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Is a “No-Fault” System
Many injured workers feel discouraged if they realize no one saw their on-the-job injuries. They may worry that their employers will think they accidentally caused their own injuries.
But because Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation system is considered “no-fault,” the cause of the injury doesn’t matter—with a few exceptions. Whether it’s due to unforeseen dangers or the worker’s own negligence, workers’ compensation benefits are available to almost everyone who gets hurt on the job regardless of who is at fault. The only thing that matters is that the injury occurred at work and/or while working.
The only major exceptions are when workers are injured because they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, engaging in “horseplay,” or committing a crime when they were injured.
In other words, if you get hurt at work while simply doing your job, even if you were negligent, there’s an extremely good chance you’re eligible for benefits.
Immediate Reporting and Evidence Can Prove the Injury Happened at Work
Another factor injured workers worry about when no one witnessed their injuries is whether their supervisors or the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission (OWCC) will believe their injuries happened at work. Unfortunately, some workers try to get benefits from injuries that occurred outside of work by claiming they happened while they were on the job. Instances like these are what can make employers skeptical about other, legitimate workers’ compensation claims.
It’s important to immediately tell your co-workers and/or supervisor about your injury after it happens. The more time that passes between your injury occurring and you reporting it, the more skeptical your employer and the OWCC may be when your workers’ compensation claim is filed. And if you call for help immediately after your injury, co-workers who assist you can help verify your injury happened as you say it did.
Evidence found at your worksite and obtained from your medical records can also help confirm your injury happened at work. For example, if you were injured because of a broken ladder, you can use the ladder (or a photo of the defect/broken step) as evidence. Or, if you tore a ligament while lifting heavy boxes, you can use your doctor’s diagnosis to show how your injury is commonplace in people who do repetitive heavy lifting.
A Detailed Description of Your Injury Can Strengthen Your Claim
It’s important to be as detailed as possible when describing your injury to your supervisor, your doctor, and when filling out all forms related to the incident at work and for the OWCC. The more information you provide, the clearer a picture you paint of the circumstances and situation that led to your injury.
Include a description of your surroundings at the time of your injury, including when and where it happened, and a breakdown of the events leading up to and during the accident. You should also be honest about the location of your injuries and their severity. Exaggerating or downplaying any aspect of your injuries can jeopardize your benefits claim.
You Can Appeal if the OWCC Denies Your Claim
According to Engineering News-Record and Lockton, around 7% of workers’ compensation claims between 2013 and 2017 were denied. Denials can happen for many reasons, but they’re often due to a lack of evidence that the injury occurred at work or while working. In some cases, the combination of not having any witnesses and a lack of physical evidence on the jobsite can hurt injured workers’ claims.
However, if your claim is denied at any point during the application process, you won’t necessarily be forced to pay out of pocket for your medical care and lost wages. You can still appeal the OWCC’s decision, and having an experienced law firm on your side can increase your chances of getting the benefits you deserve.
Contact Our Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
Some workers’ compensation claims are straightforward because they’re packed full of evidence, including multiple witnesses, surveillance footage from multiple angles, and more. Others are harder to prove initially because evidence may be scarce—at least, without doing some digging.
At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, we know how to turn even the bleakest workers’ compensation applications into success stories. Don’t let a lack of eyewitnesses or video footage discourage you from getting full benefits for your on-the-job injury. Contact us today for a free consultation.