The whole idea of a summer job is to pick up some extra money. School’s looming in the fall and you may not want to have to deal with a job on top of your studies, so you might think to make hay while the sun shines and pick up some extra bucks during the school break. But what happens if you get hurt in the course of employment? You may not be out a whole summer’s wages and you shouldn’t have to foot the bill for treatment on your own.
Strains and Sprains
Summer employment injuries can range from mild to severe. According to the American Society of Safety Engineers, the most common work-related injuries to teens and young adults are sprains and strains. You’ll bounce back, and in the meantime, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance is liable for paying 100 percent of your reasonable medical bills and expenses. (However, some common summer jobs aren’t required to cover you. Read our post about what summer and seasonal jobs aren’t required to carry workers compensation insurance.) You’re covered from day one. You don’t have to work any particular period of time before you qualify for benefits. These are soft-tissue injuries so if you’re unable to work for at least a week – seven full days – you might also be eligible for temporary total disability payments to replace your lost income for up to eight weeks while you recover. You generally have 30 days to report the injury to your employer or to seek medical care, but there are exceptions to this rule.
Repeated Traumas and Late Diagnoses
If you’re working outdoors while the Oklahoma sun beats down on you, you risk sun stroke, heat stroke and possibly dehydration that can result in health complications later. Long-term, you could be at risk for skin cancer. If you’re outside working in the construction field, carpal tunnel syndrome can become an issue if you’re consistently using vibrating hand-held machinery or tools, not to mention more severe injury when you are working with large and high-powered tools. You risk the same if you spend the summer at a computer keyboard or cash register. Technically, under Oklahoma law, you have until 90 days after you leave employment to report these types of injuries, but if symptoms don’t crop up until much later, you still have recourse. You can file a workers’ comp claim with the court.
The law doesn’t require that you have a lawyer to do this, but the insurance company isn’t going to want to pay you. The insurance company will try its hardest not to pay you and it will hire its own lawyer and pto fight it. For best results, you need a law firm behind you with significant workers’ compensation experience, attorneys who know the ropes and who can fight back.
When You’re Really Hurt
Occasionally, work-related injuries are devastating. Approximately 70 young workers die from job-related accidents every year nationwide. Another 77,000 or so are hurt badly enough to require hospitalization. Workers’ compensation coverage addresses serious injuries in one of two ways. You might be eligible for Permanent Partial Impairment benefits that work out to 70 percent of your average weekly wages up to $323 through August 2015. The “partial” in PPI means you’re able to do some sort of work, although not necessarily that you were doing when you were injured. If you’re delivering pizzas and you’re broadsided by another vehicle, the insurance company will insist that while you might not be able to perform physical labor going forward, you can probably sit at a desk and type. The alternative, if you’re seriously injured, is Permanent Total Disability, and this can pay up to $801 a week based on the average weekly wage in Oklahoma. If you don’t want the insurance company to be the judge of the nature of your injury and what disability you qualify for, you may need the help of a lawyer.
The attorneys at Laird Hammons Laird offer free consultations. Contact us so we can discuss your case and help you understand your options. Call us today at (405) 703-4567.