If you are hurt or injured while working and learn from a physician that you are unable to return to work, you should reach out to your employer or employer’s insurance carrier as soon as possible to ask if benefits will be provided voluntarily. To help with the process, your physician should be willing to provide a letter or statement stating what you are being treated for, what the treatment will entail and if/when you are able to work. And, you should ask your employer to report the incident by filing a Form 2 known as an Employer’s First Notice Injury with the Court and send a copy to their insurance company.
After a claim is filed, if an issue presents itself between you and your employer or their insurance carrier, you may ask the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Court of Existing Claims to resolve it by first formally asking for them to set a date to present your case before a judge. To do so, you or your legal representative must file a Form 9 known as a Motion To Set For Trial. A Form 9 is available from the Court or by visiting their website at www.owcc.state.ok.us/court_forms.htm
As you can imagine, the process is easier for you if you utlize a workers compensation attorney. Your attorney is well versed at the steps and documentation we outline here. So, what happens next?
A trial before the Workers’ Compensation Court of Existing Claims is much like any other non-jury trial in an Oklahoma court. Your case will be heard by a judge who will decide what, if any, benefits are due under Oklahoma law. The judge’s decision will be based upon the law and the facts involved in your case, including medical evidence introduced and testimony presented to the judge at the trial. Obviously, the ideal situation is to have your claim covered without the need for a trial, but your lawyer will be prepared should a trial be needed.
A trial is necessary only when there is a dispute between you and the employer or its insurance carrier that cannot be resolved. Claims can be settled without a trial before a judge of the Court. Court approval of all final settlements is required.
A party to a dispute can request mediation to settle a dispute regardless of whether a claim has been filed with the Court. The Court, on its own or in response to a request, may order mediation. Any workers’ compensation claim can be mediated except Multiple Injury Trust Fund claims and disputes on medical care arising within a certified workplace medical plan. All final settlements of a case resolved by mediation must be approved by the Court.
If you wish to pursue mediation, or if you have questions about mediation and/or need forms to request mediation, you may contact the Counselor Program at the Workers’ Compensation Court of Existing Claims Counselor Program, 1915 North Stiles Avenue, Oklahoma City, OK 73105 or
210 Kerr State Office Bldg., 440 S. Houston, Tulsa, OK 74127.
Trials are held in either Oklahoma City or Tulsa, or as otherwise provided by law.
In the event of a trial, it is recommended that workers be professionally represented by an attorney but, workers have the right to represent themselves before the Workers’ Compensation Court of Existing Claims. If a trial is necessary because of a dispute, your employer’s insurance carrier must be represented by a lawyer.
For more information, you may visit the Court’s website at www.owcc.state.ok.us