Legislative reform on workers’ compensation is now top Senate priority as the clamor from state leaders and business owners reach an all time high. This came after more than two decades of minor changes which the business sector believes to have yielded insignificant results. Oklahoma ‘s rates remain to be the 6th highest out of all 50 states and is at least 41% higher than its neighboring states.
Reform advocates claim that Oklahoma’s high costs are due to using the court system to resolve disputes over benefits. They criticize the highly adversarial environment as a cost additive which should be done away with if they are to make workers’ comp in Oklahoma more competitive on a national level.
Disputes will always occur in workers’ compensation claims. Workers and insurance carriers may disagree about whether an injury is work related; what medical care is appropriate; or what sort (and amount) of benefits should be paid. When those disputes happen there must be a place for both sides to bring their disagreement for resolution.
When there are disputes over workers’ compensation benefits in Colorado we do not go to “court” instead we go before an Administrative Law Judge employed by the Office of Administrative Hearings.
Oklahoma is considering a shift to an Administrative Workers’ Compensation System. Under this system, the injured worker will no longer bring claims to a judge. The cases would be handled by administrative law judges and will only be raised to courts upon appeal.
While the reforms may attract businesses to relocate or expand in the state, the details of how this shift shall be take effect are still a little sketchy. Depending on the details, this move may tilt the balance of power between insurers and injured employees.
In all this reforms talks, there is also the proposed middle ground which explores the opt-out provision. In an administrative system with an opt-out provision, businesses may be given the option to develop their own private workers’ compensation plans that meet the statutory minimums.
Stakeholders are now exploring all the above options before coming up with a final solution. Whatever will be the final solution for Oklahoma’s ailing workers’ comp system, one thing is clear: it should not only benefit the employers’ sector and insurance companies but the injured workers as well. True reform, in this case, should be win-win.
Are you a worker in need of assistance for a claim? Workers’ compensation claims need not be complicated. Having an experienced knowledgeable attorney helping you through the process can result to timelier processing of claims. Call us at 303-780-7329 or click HERE for a FREE CONSULTATION. With our years of experience and our dedication to the labor force, we can get the maximum amount of compensation to help workers get back on their feet. We help injured workers in Colorado and other parts of the country obtain the medical treatment and benefits they need.