Oklahoma has questions and our state Supreme Court has answers. No one knows yet when those answers about workers’ compensation will be delivered, however.
As you know, last month the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the opt-out portion of our 2013 workers’ comp overhaul is unconstitutional. The court is to publish a mandate informing businesses of the steps they must take to bring their workers’ injury plans in to compliance with state statutes.
The director of Workers’ Compensation at the Oklahoma Insurance Department said everyone is “waiting on the document to get more details.”
You’ll recall that the Opt Out Act was a significant portion of workers’ comp reform passed three years ago. It enabled some businesses to create their own Employee Benefit Plan. Fifty-four businesses were providing those plans when the court ruled on Sept. 13 that they were unconstitutional.
The ruling was the final word in a case in which a worker and department store clashed over whether her injury was work-related or a pre-existing condition. The store initially paid benefits to the worker, but eventually decided that her injury was the result of a pre-existing condition that was not covered by their benefits plan.
Commissioner Mark Liotta says he doesn’t know if the state legislature will take up workers’ comp again to address issues brought up by the ruling. And if lawmakers do revisit the issue, he isn’t sure if they would scuttle the opt-out, make significant changes or minor alterations, according to a report.
In this time of transition, it can be reassuring to know that when a workers’ comp claim is denied, there are skilled Tulsa attorneys available to fight for your rights and compensation.