The Law Offices of F. William Thetford, located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, have represented thousands of men and women who have been injured on the job, and we can represent you in this area of practice with a great deal of experience and expertise.
If you have suffered a work-related injury in Oklahoma, or if you have suffered a work-related injury outside of Oklahoma but were hired within the state of Oklahoma, you are entitled to compensation for the time you are unable to work, payment of medical bills, compensation for any permanent problems and the right to leave your case open if your condition should become worse in the future. If you are not able to perform your job you might be entitled to vocational retraining. There are certain qualifications for these benefits as well as additional benefits to which you may be entitled that we would be glad to discuss in more detail with you.
Temporary Disability Benefits - In General:
If you are currently disabled from working we will attempt to get your temporary disability payments started as soon as possible. You are entitled to temporary disability payments once you have been off work for more than 3 days based upon your doctor's orders. These payments are in the amount of 70% of your gross weekly pay up to a maximum of $528.00, for injuries occurring after November 1, 2002, and through October 31, 2005. And for injuries occurring after November 1, 2005, the maximum rate for temporary total disability was increased to $577.00 a week. If your employer is not contesting your case (saying you were not injured on the job, etc.) it is possible that the insurance company will start temporary payments as soon as we send them a report from your doctor, although this might still take a few weeks. If your employer is contesting your case or the insurance company has not started payments within a reasonable time after receiving the doctor's report, we will ask for a court hearing date.
Although the insurance company may pay your temporary disability benefits and authorize you to see doctors even if you do not have an attorney, that DOES NOT mean that they will be fair with you on other, bigger parts of your case. In fact, their job is to settle your case as cheap as possible without any regard for your best interests. You are at a tremendous disadvantage in dealing with an insurance company without an attorney, because YOU ARE COMPLETELY AT THEIR MERCY.
You are not allowed to be working while you are receiving Temporary Total Disability, unless you are working part time and receiving only Temporary Partial Disability checks. It is against the law to be working while receiving Temporary Total Disability and could result in criminal prosecution.
Getting Medical Treatment - In General:
If you are in need of medical treatment and your employer is not authorizing you to see a doctor, you are unsatisfied with the care and treatment by the "company doctor" and wish to see another physician, or you wish to have a second opinion with another physician, we will attempt to get this resolved for you immediately without the necessity of a court hearing.
If you have to go to a different city from where you live to see a doctor, keep track of your mileage and let us know because you are entitled to be reimbursed for mileage expense for going out of town.
Most important to your claim is that you follow your treating physician's advice. Once you have selected a physician, you should pursue treatment under his care until such time as you are released from his active medical treatment.
Returning to Work After Medical Treatment Is Complete - In General:
After your treating physician has released you from active medical treatment, you should make every effort to return to your employment. If that employment is no longer available, you should actively seek employment where it can be found. YOU DO NOT HURT YOUR CLAIM BY RETURNING TO WORK. I personally believe that the Court is impressed with an individual who will make every effort to return to gainful employment at the very earliest time.
If you believe that the treating physician is about to release you from his care, please contact us so we can schedule your medical evaluation for Permanent Partial Disability at once. This way you will not lose any additional time after you return to work. If your employer refuses to allow you to return to work, contact our office immediately with that information. The law does not permit your employer to refuse to allow you to return to work if in fact you are physically capable of doing your job.
After you are released from treatment, you may be entitled to unemployment compensation benefits. If your job is no longer available for any reason, these benefits will probably be paid to you. If we can assist you in filing for unemployment compensation, we will. You should certainly tell us that you are filing, because it may have some material effect on your claim. We just simply want to explain it to you in advance.
Also, if you have been off work for at least 12 months in a row, or have been informed by your medical provider that you will not be able to work for at least 12 months, then you may be entitled to Social Security Disability and/or Supplemental Security Income Disability Benefits, and need to contact our office immediately.
Permanent Partial Disability - Settlement or Going to Court - In General:
If we settle your case on the issue of permanent partial disability (the amount of permanent disability you are determined to have incurred as a result of your on the job injury), whatever amount of money you are entitled to is paid to you in one lump sum payment. You should know that if we settle your case for permanent disability that it is usually a final, complete settlement of your case and totally closes your case. This is called a Joint Petition settlement.
If your case is tried before the Court on the issue of permanent disability, whatever amount of money the judge awards you would be paid out to you on a weekly basis until the entire amount is paid out. The amount of the weekly payments would be (70%) of your weekly gross salary up to a maximum of $264.00, for injuries occurring after November 1, 2002 and through October 31, 2005. And for injuries occurring after November 1, 2005, the maximum rate for permanent partial disability was increased to $289.00. If your injuries are so serious that you are not able to return to work, it is possible for the court to order that you be retrained into a new line of work. This is known as vocational rehabilitation. If your claim is tried, it will stay open for future medical bills, and for a certain period of time, other future rights such as temporary and permanent partial compensation payments, and possibly rehabilitation. Your case can only be re-opened if we could show a change of condition for the worse. If your injury is the type that could worsen in future years it might be advisable to try your case so it would stay open. This is an issue that we can discuss in more detail later. You would be giving up all of these future rights concerning your claim by settling it on a Joint Petition.
Giving Notice of Your Injury to Your Employer -In General:
Please be advised that you should give notice to your employer of any on-the-job injury within 30 days of the occurrence.
Limitations on Making a Claim - In General:
The general law is that you have two years from the date of your injury or last exposure (on repetitive or cumulative trauma claims) to file a workers' compensation claim with the Court, or your case will be forever barred by the statue of limitations.
At the Thetford Law Firm, we handle all types of personal injury and wrongful death cases. We look forward to hearing from you so that we can answer all your questions. For your convenience, you can reach us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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