Last year, lawmakers passed legislation that resulted in the new workers compensation laws creating the Oklahoma Worker’s Compensation Commission. As part of the new workers compensation laws the Commission is charged with assisting injured Oklahoma workers in settling their worker’s compensation claims for injuries which occurred on or after February 1, 2014. Injuries occurring before that time are for the worker’s compensation court, which is now the “court of existing claims”. If you receive injuries on the Job you need a workers compensation attorney in Tulsa Oklahoma that understands the new workers compensation laws.
The Commission is implementing a new administrative system of handling worker’s compensation claims. Lawmakers feel it will help injured workers to resolve their claims more efficiently than the previous judicially-based system. As a part of the transition to the new system, the Commission has created a website where employers, employees, and others can learn about and access the new workers compensation laws. As of January 31, 2014, the official website of the Oklahoma Worker’s Compensation Commission is open and ready for use.
Ability for Oklahoma Businesses to ‘opt out’
Unfortunately, the the new workers compensation laws in Oklahoma may not be helpful. For example, businesses are able to “opt out” of using the state worker’s compensation system. But they must provide benefits which are equivalent to those that the system would provide. However, when a business “opts out”, it gets to decide on its own who is eligible for benefits.
Even though the new workers compensation laws intend use by injured employees on their own, it is inevitable that some cases will not proceed seamlessly through the system from start to finish. When a dispute arises, an Administrative Law Judge handles it at an administrative hearing. Employees who work for employers who “opt out” of the state system will have their disputes handled by their employer’s alternative dispute resolution program, which often consists of arbitration.
Other Changes To Workers Comp Laws in Oklahoma
Other changes to Oklahoma worker’s compensation include changes in the statute of limitations for filing a Tulsa, Oklahoma claim. Employees receiving injuries on the job previously had two years to file a claim. Now, under the new workers compensation laws they have just one year to file. Injured employees may also be denied compensation if they return to the same job. Workers are able to receive compensation after their firing by the employer. But the amount of compensation under the new workers compensation laws drastically reduced from previous amounts.
Employees also must comply with strict timelines and burdens of proof for cumulative trauma injuries caused by repetitive motions associated with their work. If you believe that you are experiencing such an injury, visit a doctor right away. You have just six months to let your employer know that you have developed it.
Fortunately, under the new workers compensation laws, it is still illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee who has filed a good faith workers’ compensation claim, or who has retained a lawyer to represent them in pursuing their claim. Employees who are temporarily or completely disabled as a result of their injuries also continue to be protected by the new laws. Employers may not fire employees for the sole reason that they were absent from work. Futher their employer may not let them go in an attempt to avoid making disability payments.
Call A Tulsa Workers Comp Attorney Today
The changes to the worker’s compensation system in Oklahoma are touted as making things easier for injured workers. It is important that workers receiving injuries on the job in Oklahoma consult with an Oklahoma Worker’s Compensation Attorney. Your attorney can help you understand the new system and to stand up for your rights. We offer a free initial consultation where we can answer your questions, evaluate your needs and explain your options. Call Kania Law Office at 918-743-2233.
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