Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation
A new law regarding Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation system went into effect in February of 2014, and since then the workers’ compensation services provided to injured Oklahoma workers has fallen dramatically, according to the Insurance Journal. Oklahoma legislature claimed that the new regulations would be a cost-effective way to improve the health outcomes of injured workers while keeping insurance costs lower for employers. Now, almost three years after the regulations have taken hold, courts are disagreeing with the legislation on the grounds that large portions of the law are unconstitutional.
Cutting Costs for Employers While Cutting Benefits for Injured Workers
The new law, passed by Republican state legislation, changed the workers’ compensation system by moving from an adversarial court system to an administration. Not only are there dozens of challenges to the unconstitutional and downright invalid provisions, but despite the insurance costs for employers decreasing somewhat, it is still high compared to many other states with similar benefit levels.
Oklahoma Among Worst States for Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Before the new law went into effect, Oklahoma was already ranked 48th worst in terms of workers’ compensation costs per covered wages of $100. In the two years leading up to the new regulations, Oklahoma’s benefits-paid declined more than any state. Families all across the state are struggling because of the new law. The maximum weekly death benefit, for example, is $589.33 for a spouse without children or any dependants, according to Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission. Workers’ compensation benefits for permanent partial disability is set at 70 percent of the employee’s wage, capped at $323 a week.
Stan Spence, a chemical plant operator, is one of the many who has suffered significantly by the benefit cuts enacted by state legislation. After losing partial sight and suffering serious face injuries due to a carbon dioxide compressor explosion, his benefits were $1,200 a week. Now, after the laws have changed, he receives just $571 a week (the maximum), is in debt and struggling to pay the bills, and will lose even those benefits before he recovers from his next surgery.
We Are Here to Help
With the state’s workers’ compensation benefits being slashed, workers who have suffered injuries need to be awarded the maximum now more than ever. If you were injured on the job, Contact the Bassett Law Firm today at 479-521-9996 to talk to one of our experienced Oklahoma workers’ compensation attorneys.