Oklahoma lawmakers were hoping House Bill 1462 would finally provide a fix for many of the complaints regarding the state’s new workers’ compensation system. However, despite a number of compromises made by both sides, the workers’ comp bill ultimately failed to earn enough support.
The bill was originally designed to remove or modify certain parts of the workers’ compensation law that the Oklahoma Supreme Court found to be in violation of the state’s constitution. Many of these areas that were to be removed or reworked were also criticized for providing inadequate protection to injured workers. Since the new law was established, the amount of workers’ compensation that has been paid has significantly dropped. Between 2010 and 2012, workers’ compensation payments declined by over 20%, which represented the largest two-year drop among all other states.
One man who was injured right as the new laws went into effect calculated that he received about $24,000 less under the new system than he would have received if the old laws had still been in place. It was cases like these that motivated many lawmakers to push for reform.
Members from both sides—the business community and workers’ compensation lawyers—met to negotiate the terms of the new bill. The workers’ compensation lawyers were able to get the business community to agree to a 15% increase in permanent partial disability rates. The business community was able to secure benefits reductions for certain injuries, and the right to deny workers the opportunity to get a second opinion.
Despite the efforts made by both sides, the House version of the bill was ultimately changed by members of the Senate, who decided to cut benefits even further in a move that would have severely impacted injured workers. The House strongly disagreed with the changes made in the Senate, and ultimately killed the bill as a result.
However, just because this bill did not succeed does not mean that workers’ compensation reform is off of the table. Both sides remain hopeful that they will be able to pass legislation in the near future that solves the many problems with the current system.
If you have been injured, let an attorney represent you in your fight to recover the workers’ compensation benefits that you deserve. Call Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. today at 918-582-2500, or toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation.