Oklahoma’s Top Court Rules That Big Corporations Can’t Set Rules for Workers’ Compensation
Some of the biggest corporations in the country (including Lowe’s® and Wal-Mart®) were working to release themselves of liability by opting out of workers’ compensation coverage. Unfortunately, Oklahoma’s top court has slammed down their attempts, citing it as unconstitutional.
In a recent article by ProPublica and co-published by NPR, it was highlighted that several large companies have started a national campaign to opt out of workers’ compensation insurance.
What The Companies Were Attempting to Do
A national campaign was launched by several of the largest employers in the U.S. The goal was to rewrite the laws that allow businesses to decide how they will handle injured employees. This campaign was hit hard when Oklahoma’s Supreme Court ruled the idea unconstitutional.
In 2013, a legislation allowed Oklahoma’s employers to “opt out” of the state’s workers’ compensation system and create their own in-house plans. These set certain terms for injured workers, including which doctors they could see, how they would be compensated, and how disputes would be addressed. The statute was backed by several large companies, including the oil and gas industry.
Because of its success, companies around the country started working in a national coalition (which was led by Wal-Mart® and Lowe’s®) to establish similar legislations countrywide. It is not just retailers that are in on the movement, either. Healthcare companies, trucking companies, and other retailers have joined to reform how they handle workers’ compensation claims. Bills and drafts have already been started in states like Tennessee, South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Illinois.
What These New Plans Meant For Injured Workers
While these plans may benefit the company, they didn’t do much for the workers. ProPublica and NPR did an independent investigation, and found that these new workers’ compensation proposals meant lower benefits and more restrictions for injured workers.
Essentially, companies were dismantling workers’ compensation coverage for their employees, and protecting themselves further from lawsuits.
Supreme Court’s Ruling Could Have National Implications
The decision from Oklahoma’s Supreme Court is not the first of its kind. In fact, Florida’s Supreme Court struck down similar laws that placed caps on attorneys’ fees.
Had the Supreme Court in Oklahoma not intervened, injured workers in the state would have not received necessary surgeries, and the cost of work-related injuries (especially common injuries such as burns, broken bones, and neck and spine injuries) would have been shifted to Medicare and Social Security.
Have You Been Injured?
If you were seriously injured due to someone’s negligence, whether at work or elsewhere, you need a personal injury attorney in Washington. The team at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, PLLC is here to help you in your time of need. We will aggressively seek compensation for your injury case and help you get back on the road to recovery. Schedule a free consultation now by calling us at 800-925-1875 or by filling out our online contact form.