KSWO News Channel Seven has recently reported on the new changes to Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation system. Under the new system, workers’ compensation claims will be handled through an administrative process rather than in a court-based system. Since the new change is being described as pro-business, opponents are concerned about the possible impacts to the rights and benefits of injured employees.
What Workers Need to Know
Workers who were injured prior to February first are being grandfathered into the court system, which is now being called the Court of Existing Claims. Workers who get injured on February first or later will have their claims handled in the new administrative system. In the new system, three appointed commissioners will handle workplace injury claims in Oklahoma. These commissioners are appointed by the governor. Since the new system has been adopted to ‘avoid drawn-out and expensive claims’ it remains to be seen if employees’ rights and benefits are going to be as well protected as they were under the old system.
Implications of the New Administrative System
Last April, we reported on the proposed changes to the Oklahoma workers’ compensation system and how those changes could impact injured workers. The greatest potential implication of the new administrative system is the loss of protections that an injured worker previously had available to him or her in the traditional judicial process. Under the old system, injured workers could have their cases settled in court. Their interests could be protected by skilled attorneys. The new system is very big-business and big-insurance friendly, so injured workers should speak with an attorney about their options.
Workplace Injury Statistics for 2012
- 4,383 workers were killed on the job.
- Falls accounted for 36 percent of all workplace deaths.
- 10 percent of workplace deaths occurred in ‘struck by object’ incidents.
- Electrocutions accounted for nine percent of workplace deaths.
- Caught-in/between incidents accounted for two percent of all workplace deaths.
After a Workplace Injury
If you or a loved one has sustained an on-the-job injury in Oklahoma, you should contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. Whether you were injured before or after February first, it’s a good idea to speak with a lawyer before the ball gets rolling on your claim. The Altman Legal Group has offices in Wichita Falls, Texas and Lawton, Oklahoma. Our offices can be reached at 800-772-0828 for a free consultation today.