In Oklahoma, almost all employers are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance to cover their employees if they get hurt or sick on the job and can’t work until they recover.
Although this coverage helps shift the financial liability for on-the-job injuries from employers to their workers’ compensation insurers, many employers want to avoid workers’ comp claims whenever possible.
To accomplish this, they may discourage claims from being filed or contest them when they are filed by injured workers.
Why Do Employers Want as Few Workers’ Comp Claims as Possible?
There are two reasons employers don’t want workers’ comp claims filed by their employees.
- It means they will lose a worker for at least eight days (the minimum time out of work for employees to be eligible for benefits). In many cases, injured or sick workers are out for several weeks or even months. This means less productivity for employers and ultimately, less revenue and profits.
- It can result in an increase in their workers’ compensation insurance premiums. A single claim in a given year typically doesn’t result in an increase, but multiple claims often do. In addition, single claims can result in premium increases if they are due to major safety violations, especially if the workplace is already considered dangerous.
It’s illegal for employers to stop workers from filing workers’ compensation claims or to fire them for doing so, but some employers promote a culture of “working through injuries” in order to reduce the number of claims filed.
As a last resort scenario, some employers refuse to cooperate when injured workers try to file workers’ compensation claims, and they may even contest claims in order to rule injured workers ineligible for benefits.
Why Do Employers Contest Claims?
Sometimes, employers have valid reasons to contest claims aside from simply trying to retain productivity and save money on insurance premiums:
They know a worker is claiming a pre-existing injury happened at work.
For example, if a worker is injured in a car accident and comes to work the next day, their employer may be suspicious if they suddenly file a workers’ compensation claim for a soft tissue injury.
They believe or have proof that a worker was intoxicated or impaired when they were injured at work.
Although workers’ compensation benefits in Oklahoma are typically paid regardless of whether the employer or employee was at fault for the injury, injured employees are ineligible for benefits if they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol when their injuries occurred.
They suspect a worker is exaggerating the severity of their injury.
Minor injuries that don’t prevent a worker from doing their job aren’t covered by workers’ compensation, but some injured employees may act like their injuries are debilitating in order to be eligible for benefits.
They think that a worker’s injury was caused intentionally.
In rare cases, workers in Oklahoma and other states have injured themselves in order to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Intentional injuries aren’t covered by workers’ comp.
In other cases, employers contest claims simply because they think they can get away with it. And many cases, they’re correct—especially when the injured workers don’t have lawyers helping them prove their claims and protecting their rights.
Injured workers who don’t have legal representation may simply give up and either continue working while injured or be forced to quit their jobs.
You Can Still Get Approved for Benefits Even if Your Employer Contests Your Claim
When employers refuse to cooperate by filling out the necessary paperwork for their injured employees, or when they accuse their employees of lying or exaggerating about their injuries, they can create big roadblocks in the path of getting benefits. However, those roadblocks can often be cleared with enough evidence that shows the injury or illness happened at work and that it resulted in the employee’s inability to do their job.
It’s important to have an experienced lawyer on your side any time you apply for workers’ compensation benefits, but it’s especially helpful when your employer contests your claim. The Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission isn’t going to take the time to compile evidence to support your claim for you. Instead, it’s up to you and, if you decide to hire one, your lawyer.
Contact Our Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Lawyers for a Free Consultation
On its surface, workers’ compensation seems like a straightforward system that’s designed for the benefit of employees. But as many injured workers quickly discover, getting benefits is rarely easy, and employers are often either unhelpful or even determined to stop the process altogether.
At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, we have many years of experience helping injured workers get the benefits they’re owed. Whether you need help immediately after a workplace injury, assistance with fighting back against an uncooperative employer, or even guidance when appealing a denied claim, we’ve got your back. Contact us today for a free case review.