One of the goals of the new workers compensation law passed by Oklahoma lawmakers earlier this year was to pull the workers comp process out of the courts and into the administrative arena. So it is ironic that the law itself is now on its way to court.
A pair of legislators from both the House and the Senate — one a Republican and one a Democrat —have joined the Professional Firefighters of Oklahoma in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new workers comp law, S.B. 1062.
Among the objections alleged by the plaintiffs:
- The law violates the provision of the Oklahoma Constitution that bans so-called log-rolling — the legislative practice of rolling into one bill regulations that cover a broad range of subjects.
- The law allows the use of third-party guidelines — the American Medical Association guide and the Work Loss Data Institute Official Disability Guidelines — in workers comp cases, which amount to an unconstitutional delegation of legislative powers.
- By allowing employers to opt out of the state system and create their own benefit plans, the law will result in unequal treatment of workers and may exclude certain injuries or conditions from compensation.
- The law allows some employers to dun workers for benefits they received after the workers return to work.
The plaintiffs say they agree with the move to an administrative rather than judicial workers comp process, but recommend that Oklahoma adopt a system similar to the one adopted by Missouri in 2005.
In the meantime, a motion to intervene in the lawsuit was filed by the state Chamber of Oklahoma, the Tulsa Regional Chamber and the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. The business groups argue that the reforms are necessary to bring the costs of the Oklahoma workers comp system into line with those of other states.
No matter where the argument may land, workers injured on the job in Oklahoma need skilled legal assistance to ensure they get the compensation they deserve. Contact an experienced workers comp lawyer in Oklahoma today.