After a disabling work injury or illness, you need workers’ compensation benefits as soon as possible to pay your medical bills and replace your lost wages so you can keep up with your usual expenses. For that reason, it’s often a good idea to hire a lawyer to help you with your workers’ compensation claim.
Having a lawyer on your side means less chance of a rejected claim and less waiting to get the benefits you’re owed. It also means less work for you and your family while you’re recovering from your injury or illness.
While your lawyer’s experience and knowledge of Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation system will be priceless during the application process, what you do—and don’t do—during this time can also have a big impact on your claim’s chances of success.
Report Your Injury Right Away
Oklahoma requires that an injured employee “report the work-related illness or injury to his or her supervisor immediately after the accident occurs or the work-related illness is known, unless incapacitated.” After you report your injury, you will need to complete and sign Form 23RS046E, also called “Employee’s Report of the Job-Related Accident Injury or Illness.”
The longer you wait to report your injury, the more skeptical the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission (OWCC) will be of it being tied to your employment and work duties. You also may lose the ability to pursue any benefits if you wait longer than 30 days to either seek medical attention or complete and sign the appropriate form.
Attend All of Your Doctor Appointments
During your recovery, you will likely need to continue seeing your doctor every few days for checkups and treatments. It’s important to go to all of your scheduled appointments, and on time. If you can’t make an appointment, reschedule it as soon as you know you won’t be able to attend.
Regularly visiting your doctor and making it to all of your scheduled appointments shows the OWCC that your injury or illness is serious and that you’re doing everything your doctor is telling you to do to aid your recovery. But if you frequently miss appointments, it can cast doubt about the severity of your injury and its impact on your life and ability to work.
Be Honest About Your Injury or Illness and Its Impact on Your Life
Unfortunately, many people try to defraud the workers’ compensation system. Because of that, both the OWCC, workers’ compensation insurance companies, and employers throughout the state are always on high alert for fraud. Any time they notice discrepancies in applicants’ stories or statements, they raise red flags on their claims—and that often results in denials.
Because of this, it’s important to be 100% honest and upfront about your injury or illness every step of the way. Never exaggerate its impact on your daily life and ability to work, and never downplay it, either. An honest and consistent story from the day you’re hurt or get sick until the day your claim finalizes can significantly increase your chances of getting full benefits.
Avoid Social Media and Discussing Your Claim While It’s in Progress
Anything you post on social media can be used against you when you’re applying for workers’ compensation benefits. While your claim is in progress, it’s best to avoid posting on social media, period. Even seemingly innocent posts such as family pictures or updates about your day can be construed as evidence that your injury or illness isn’t as bad as you claim it is—and that can jeopardize your claim.
You should also only discuss your claim with your lawyer and your immediate family. Don’t discuss it with coworkers, friends, your supervisor, or anyone else while you are waiting for your benefits. Accidentally saying the wrong thing to the wrong person can result in a claim denial, and that’s why it’s best to simply not discuss your claim at all while it’s still in progress.
Take It Easy While You’re Recovering
While your claim is in progress, your goal should be maximizing your recovery and avoiding making your injury or illness worse. That means resting and following your doctor’s orders. Don’t push yourself beyond your limits or attempt to do things around the house that are beyond your current capabilities.
In addition to reducing your risk of worsening your health, focusing on rest and recovery also makes you less likely to be “caught in the act” by a private investigator. When workers’ compensation insurers are skeptical of claims, they may hire investigators to watch claimants for evidence that they’re healthier and more able-bodied than they claim. Unfortunately, pictures or video footage of activities like picking up boxes or push mowing the lawn can be enough for your claim to get rejected.
After a Work Injury, Contact Our Oklahoma Workers’ Comp Lawyers ASAP
The sooner you act after a work-related injury or illness, the better your chances of getting benefits—and the sooner you’ll get them to cover your expenses. At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, we don’t waste time when helping our clients get the benefits they need after being hurt or getting sick at work.
By contacting us right away and following the tips above, you can maximize your chances of winning your claim. Already been denied by the OKCC? We can help you appeal their decision. Don’t wait another day to get the help you need—contact us today for a free case review.