A bill to convert Oklahoma’s Workers’ Compensation Court into an administrative system passed with an 8-2 vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee and is now headed to a floor vote before the full Senate. While supporters of Senate Bill 1062 were pleased with the vote, claiming that the measure “will help reduce costs; get workers timely, quality medical care; and make Oklahoma more competitive economically with our surrounding states,” opponents of the bill have raised serious concerns about the effects that a change to an administrative workers’ comp system could have on injured workers in Oklahoma. If you have suffered injuries in an on-the-job in Oklahoma City, or elsewhere in Oklahoma, consult our reputable workers’ compensation attorneys at Oklahoma Legal Center to discuss your legal options. With our lawyers on your side, you can protect your legal rights and ensure that you receive the workers’ comp benefits you deserve for your injuries.
Changes Proposed in Senate Bill 1062
Modeled after a similar bill in Arkansas, which has had success in reducing workers’ compensation premiums, Senate Bill 1062 was co-authored by Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, chair of the Judiciary committee. Although Oklahoma’s current workers’ compensation system has been identified as one of the most expensive in the nation, some fear that the so-called Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act could actually be detrimental to injured workers in the state. “If this [bill] passes as is, Oklahoma will have the lowest workers’ comp benefits in the nation,” remarked an Oklahoma workers’ compensation attorney, who claims the measure would cut workers’ comp benefits by as much as 30% and penalize injured workers who attempt to return to work before they are fully recovered. According to the lawyer, the bill “even cuts widow’s death benefits” by one-third.
Contact Our Workers’ Comp Attorneys for Legal Help
Among the Senate Bill 1062 provisions likely to spur controversy are: the elimination of benefits for injuries resulting from the repetitive use of a keyboard or video terminal, such as carpal tunnel syndrome; the limiting of mental health benefits to $6,500; and a section that appears to allow employers to deduct payments made on one claim from those resulting from a second work injury. The bill would also reduce the statute of limitations for filing a work injury claim from two years to one, except in cases of worker death; and attempts to limit the role of attorneys and the court in workers’ compensation cases. Because these proposed changes to Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation system could have a significant impact on injured workers in the future, it is important that all workers in Oklahoma understand Senate Bill 1062. If you have been injured in a workplace accident in Oklahoma, contact our skilled lawyers at Oklahoma Legal Center today for legal advice.