Employers now have more tools at their disposal to keep payments out of the pockets of injured workers.
Oklahoma City, OK (PRWEB) January 20, 2014
Commenting on a news report detailing changes to the state’s Workers’ Compensation laws, Oklahoma City workers’ compensation attorney Dan Davis of the Dan Davis Law Firm said today that Oklahoma employees now face an unfair disadvantage when applying for benefits.
NewsOK (“Oklahoma Supreme Court upholds new workers' compensation law,” December 17) reported that the state’s Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the new Oklahoma workers’ compensation law that allows employers to opt out of state system as long as they provide equivalent benefits to injured workers.
Davis said the Court’s decision strikes a blow to injured Oklahoma workers. “Reforms to the state’s Workers’ Compensation law are inherently designed to prevent our state’s injured workers from successfully filing a claim,” Davis said. “There are so many ways that this is bad for workers. For example, if you are injured at work, you now have one year to file a claim instead of two.
Employers who ‘opt out’ of workers’ comp have the power to determine who is eligible to receive benefits – not an impartial judge. The deck is stacked, from the initial claim all the way up to an appeals process that was designed by state government to keep as many people off Workers’ Compensation as possible. Without question, the system has been redesigned to heavily favor the interests of businesses – not the injured workers.”
According to the NewsOK article, the new law phases out the state’s judicial workers’ compensation system, replacing it with an administrative system that supporters believe to be more efficient, effective, and fair to Oklahoma businesses.
But opponents told NewsOK they believe that the bill’s “opt out” provision gives business owners and government officials too much power over who can and cannot file a workers’ compensation claim in Oklahoma. According to the article, Vice-Chief Justice John F. Rief expressed these opinions in a dissenting decision, stating that “the employer and any ‘appeals’ committee chosen by the employer cannot satisfy the impartiality requirement of due process” under the opt-out system.
“It’s no surprise that business representatives are embracing these reforms,” Davis said. “Employers now have more tools at their disposal to keep payments out of the pockets of injured workers. If an employer denies a claim and an injured worker files an appeal, a three-person committee chosen by the employer will determine your eligibility. Employers can also choose that a claim be submitted to binding arbitration – and it’s the employer who gets to pick the arbitrator.
"To make matters worse, awards of compensation are eliminated for workers who return to the same job,” Davis said. “So, if your injury renders you a paraplegic, but your employer sticks you back in the same job to avoid paying workers’ comp, you get no compensation for your condition. If you are fortunate to obtain compensation for your injury – that is, the employer fires you after the injury – the amount you may be able to get has been reduced by thirty percent in some cases and in most cases, by 70 to 80 percent.”
Furthermore, Davis said that cases that make their way through the appeals process and are seen before a judge may face further discrimination from Governor-appointed judges and a Workers’ Compensation Commission that will take all the steps necessary to eliminate workers’ compensation benefits for injured workers.
With the new reforms in place, Davis said it’s more important than ever that injured workers seek advice from legal counsel. He said an experienced attorney who understands Oklahoma laws and knows how to navigate the complex workers’ compensation system can fight to protect the rights of the employee.
About The Dan Davis Law Firm
Dan Davis is an experienced workers’ compensation attorney and personal injury lawyer who has earned a reputation for getting clients the results they need. Based in Oklahoma City, the Law Office of Daniel M. Davis handles a wide variety of cases, from auto accidents to workers’ compensation and dog bites, truck accidents and motorcycle accidents. Attorney Davis has a thorough understanding of the state’s legal system and knows how to build a successful legal case designed to obtain the maximum compensation for clients.
If you need help with a workers’ compensation claim in Oklahoma, call 1-800-HURTLINE or complete the online contact form.
Daniel M. Davis Law
525 NW 13th Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73103