Opponents challenge new workers' compensation rules

During the last legislative session, the state of Oklahoma passed new rules for how workers' compensation cases were handled. The changes have met with strong opposition and now those arguments were recently presented to the state Supreme Court referee. Ponca City readers should know how the new rules could possibly affect any future workers' compensation cases that might be filed if the new rules remain in place.

The new laws did away with the court-appointed system of hearing workers' compensation cases and instead instituted an administrative system. Opponents object to this because they state it takes away a worker's right to be heard in court as well as takes away the constitutional right to a speedy remedy. The new system also allows some employers to opt out of the program, which could put many workers at risk of being eligible for compensation in the event they are injured on the job.

Another issue to which opponents take umbrage is the fact that the law contains more than one subject, another violation of the state's constitution. Finally, the new system reduces the amount of benefits a worker can receive, as well as adds limits to attorney's fees.

Proponents of the bill claim that the new law only has one subject because all of the changes are with regard to workers' compensation. They also state that it does not allow certain employers to opt out.

The referee will submit a report to the Supreme Court and the court can decide to hear the case, refuse to hear it, or send it back for further argument. Whatever the court decides, workers who are injured while doing their jobs deserve compensation while they recover. Anyone who finds themselves in this unfortunate situation can seek the advice of an experienced legal professional to determine what rights they actually have.


Source: 
Tulsa World, "Workers comp law should be tossed, Oklahoma Supreme Court justices told" Barbara Hoberock, Nov. 15, 2013

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