Workers’ Compensation

What is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ Compensation is a form of insurance that most employers in Oklahoma are required to obtain to cover workplace injuries that employees sustain. Workers’ Compensation pays 100% of all reasonable and necessary medical expense related to an on-the-job injury. It also pays for Temporary Total Disability (TTD) when an injured worker is take off work by a physician due to the injury. Due to the reforms passed by the Oklahoma Legislature in 2013, there are very strict limitations on the TTD allowed. If an on-the-job injury results in permanent partial disability (PPD), the injured worker is entitled to recover monetary compensation. The amount depends on many different factors.

What should I do if I have been injured at work?

The first thing an injured worker should do is report the injury to the employer in writing. If medical treatment is not provided by the employer within five days, seek treatment on your own and make sure that you describe to the medical provider how you were injured. In the event, benefits are not volunteered by your employer, call Burton Law Group, P.C. to help you obtain these benefits.

How long do I have to file a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

For injuries after February 1, 2014, you have two years from the date of injury if benefits are paid by Workers’ Compensation or one year from the date of injury if the claim is denied.

Why should I hire an attorney to help with my on-the-job injury?

If benefits are denied or you are not getting the care you need for your on-the-job injury, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you get what you are entitled to. Our firm frequently sees cases where the full extent of the injury is not being addressed by the doctor provided by the insurance company. Burton Law Group, P.C. can help get you to a doctor who will listen to you and not the insurance company. If a trial is needed to prove your claim, we have decades of trial experience and will do all we can to obtain benefits on your behalf.

How much does it cost to hire a lawyer?

The attorney’s fee in a Workers’ Compensation claim is contingent or in other words, you do not owe a fee unless the attorney obtains a monetary recovery on your behalf. The fee for obtaining TTD is 10% and for PPD, it is 20% of the total amount. There may also be expenses incurred by the attorney in preparing your case like a medical expert examination and/or copy charges and these costs are fronted by our office then taken out of any eventual recovery.

Can I be fired for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim?

As an employee-at-will, you can be terminated for any reason or no reason at all but it is unlawful in the state of Oklahoma to fire an employee in retaliation for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim or hiring an attorney for a Workers’ Compensation claim. An employer can terminate employment if the injury prevents the employee from returning to the same job and the employer does not have the means to accommodate them elsewhere.

Why should I hire Burton Law Group to help me?

Burton Law Group has been helping injured workers for over twenty years and we represent workers every day at the Workers’ Compensation Court and Commission. We are not afraid of big corporations and we feel like it is our purpose to help those who are oppressed by big companies or their insurance companies. You will never feel like you are just another file in our office and we pursue every claim like it is our only claim. Although the legislature has chosen to help employers more than injured workers recently, we have had a great deal of success in defeating and changing some of these draconian laws through the court system. If you never give up, we won’t either.

Social Security Disability

Why should I hire an attorney to help with my Social Security Disability claim?

It is getting more and more difficult to get approved for disability benefits.  The rules are changing more frequently than they used to and depending on when you file your claim, different rules could apply.  An attorney is familiar with the rules and procedures that apply to your individual claim, especially when it comes time for a hearing in front of a judge.  Their job is to gather evidence regarding your claim and work with your physicians to gather that evidence according to the regulations that social security requires to qualify you for benefits.  At a hearing, the attorney will present evidence on your behalf to convince the judge that you meet the qualifications for benefits.

Is there a waiting period to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits?

Yes.  To qualify for benefits, you must be off work 12 months or longer or have a disability that is expected to last 12 months or longer.  Once you qualify for benefits, there is a 5 month waiting period.  Benefits begin the 6th full month after the social security office finds that your disability began.

How long does it take to get a decision on my application and if I am denied, how long do I have to file an appeal?

Every case is different in the length it takes to get a decision.  On average it takes several months, but this depends on how many doctors that you see and how long it takes the social security office to get the medical records as well as how many medical records they need to review in order to make a decision.  The local office also can have a very high case load and this can affect the time frame for a decision.

You have 60 calendar days to file an appeal from the date on the denial letter.

How many appeals are there?

If you are denied at the initial application level, and most people are, don’t get discouraged.  You have 60 calendar days from the date on the denial letter to file an appeal.  If you do not file the appeal within this time frame, you can file a late appeal if you show good cause.  You may also file a new application with the social security office.

The second level is called Reconsideration and usually takes about the same amount of time for a decision as the initial application.  Most individuals that are denied at the initial application are also denied at this level.  Again, you have 60 calendar days from the date on the reconsideration denial to file an appeal.

The next appeal is to request a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge.  This level takes the longest of the 3 levels so far, but also gives you the best chance at getting approved.  This level is where having an attorney is of the most benefit in my opinion.

Will my disability benefits be reduced if I receive Workers’ Compensation benefits?

Yes, usually.  However it depends on the amount of the benefit received.  You should notify social security immediately of any workers’ compensation or other public disability benefits that you receive in order to avoid any overpayment.

Social Security will reduce your disability benefits if the combined total amount plus your workers’ compensation payment and any public disability benefit payment exceeds 80% of your average earnings before you became injured or ill.

Do I qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if I qualify for Veterans’ Disability benefits?

It is possible to qualify for both, but just because you qualify for VA Disability benefits does not mean you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.  The two programs have very different rules for qualifications.  The VA sometimes pays benefits for partial disability, but the social security program only pays benefits when impairments are so severe that they prevent any kind of substantial gainful activity.

Will Social Security pay benefits for any time period prior to my application for disability?

Yes, the law allows them to pay for benefits up to 12 months prior to your application date if you meet their qualifications for disability for that period of time.  Of course, there is the 5 month waiting period to consider as well.

Personal Injury

Do I Have a Case?

If you have been injured due to the actions of another party, you can make a personal injury claim for damages. These can include situations such as: truck wrecks, car wrecks, motorcycle wrecks, on-the-job injuries, premises liability, slip/trip and fall, product liability, wrongful death, medical malpractice, pharmaceutical negligence, and a host of other injury causing events.  Individuals, businesses and governmental agencies have a legal duty to act in a manner that does not place others at unreasonable risk of harm or injury. If a party acts negligently and causes injury to another person as a result, they can be held liable for damages.

Who pays the medical bills?

After a personal injury causing event, most people are concerned with the medical bills that they incur and how they will be paid.  Depending on your case, there are different answers to this question. Sometimes your health insurance will cover your medical costs; others, your automobile coverage will.  This can create a situation where some of the funds awarded to you must be paid back to the companies paying the medical bills on your behalf.  Many times, people will have to rely on the party who caused the injury’s liability insurance carrier.  Please call us so that we can discuss the best option for you.

When should I contact a personal injury lawyer?

If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence or involved in an on-the-job incident, you should contact us as soon as possible. The statute of limitations, which refers to the time period that legal action is allowed, may begin at the time of the injury in personal injury cases. In Oklahoma, a negligence cause of action must be filed within 2 years of the event causing your injury

How much is my case worth?

Each case is unique.  The value of a case is based on the totality of the circumstances.  It is impossible to know what kind of settlement to expect before investigating the extent of any injuries sustained, medical costs, lost wages, future expenses, and pain and suffering.

What is a contingent fee?

Personal injury cases are handled on a contingency fee basis. Payment for our legal representation is contingent on our reaching a successful case resolution in the form of either a verdict or settlement on your behalf. In the event of a successful case resolution, we will take a pre-determined percentage of the recovery as payment. If we do not obtain financial compensation on your behalf, you owe us nothing for our services, though you may be responsible for case costs, such as filing fees.

What should I do after a wreck?

  1. Stay at the scene. Do not leave the scene of the wreck until it is appropriate to do so.
  2. Seek medical attention as necessary. Make sure everyone is O.K.Call an ambulance for anyone who may need one. In a non-emergency situation, if you are in pain, seek medical treatment as soon as possible after leaving the scene.
  3. Call the police.When police arrive, patiently wait for them to talk to you.  Obey all commands.  Politely ask them to file a police report and make note of the names and badge numbers of the officers.
  4. Exchange information with drivers and witnesses. Kindly ask for the contact and insurance information from the other drivers involved. Seek contact information from passengers and other witnesses.
  5. Take photos. Take photos of the damage to your vehicle and of the scene.
  6. Inform your insurance company. Contact your insurance company and explain the facts of the accident. You may wish to consider hiring an attorney, or speak to one during a free consultation, to learn about your rights and options before pursuing an insurance claim independently.