Workers' Compensation

 

SB 730 (Maddox/Askins): Enacts the final product of the Conference Committee on workers' compensation. Primary provisions are as follows:

  • Requires employees to prove eligibility by a "preponderance of the evidence" in order to receive benefits under the Workers' Compensation Act.

  • Exempts an employer with 5 or fewer employees who are all related to the employer by blood or marriage from the Workers' Compensation Act.

  • Defines "cumulative trauma" to mean an injury resulting from employment activities which are repetitive in nature, engaged in over a period of time.

  • Modifies definition of "injury" or "personal injury" to include a mental injury in the case of rape which arises out of and in the course of employment.

  • Allows any party to request mediation of a claim arising under the Workers' Compensation Act except for claims relating to certified workplace medical plans and the Special Indemnity Fund. Requires mediation to be voluntary and conducted with the consent of both parties. Mediators must be certified by the Supreme Court of Oklahoma and may be compensated in an amount up to a maximum rate as established by the Administrator.

  • Denies compensation for injuries caused by a prank, horseplay, or similar willful or intentional behavior. Allows post-accident alcohol or drug testing results as admissible evidence for purposes of determining compensability of an injury resulting directly from the use or abuse of alcohol, drugs, or other chemicals.

  • Requires non-emergency treatment to be provided to an employee within 3 days of knowledge of an injury.

  • Requires the Administrator to adopt a new fee and treatment schedule which establishes maximum allowable reimbursement levels for medical testimony and evaluation services.

  • Allows the court to deduct certain costs from any award of benefits to an employee who refuses, or fails to complete in good faith, rehabilitation services or training ordered by the court. Costs of evaluation for vocational rehabilitation shall be paid by the employer.

  • Reduces the time an employee may receive temporary total disability (TTD) or temporary partial disability (TPD) from 300 weeks to 156 weeks, except for good cause shown, as determined by the court.

  • Increases benefits for the loss of an eye from 200 weeks to 250 weeks.

  • Increases death benefits for a surviving spouse from 50% to 70% of the average weekly wage and from 35% to 50% for one child and from 15% to 20% for each additional child. The maximum weekly income benefits payable for all beneficiaries are increased from 75% to 100%.

  • Creates a rebuttable presumption that an injury is not work related unless the employee reports the injury to the employer or receives medical attention within 30 days of the date of the injury. The presumption must be overcome by a preponderance of the evidence.

  • Reduces time period from 5 to 3 years to request a hearing on a claim. A claimant who is represented by counsel may dismiss a claim any time before final submission without an order of the court. If the claimant is not represented by counsel, dismissal of a claim requires an order of the court.

  • Reduces penalty for a first offense of failure to secure workers' compensation insurance from $250 to $75 per employee if the employer obtains insurance within 30 days after notice of the violation. Increases penalty for a second or subsequent offense from $500 to $1000.

  • Requires physicians providing treatment under the Workers' Compensation Act to disclose any employee leasing arrangement between the physician and any health care facility that is not the physician's primary place of business.

  • Provides immunity from civil liability for any health care provider acting in good faith and within the scope of duties as a member of the Physician Advisory Committee.

  • Directs the Physician Advisory Committee to develop recommendations for evaluating permanent impairment for sprain and strain injuries if the Committee finds the current evaluation process is in need of change.

  • Requires the court to determine liability for payment of temporary total disability when two or more insurance carriers or employers disagree. Requires the court to award a credit in favor of a carrier or employer if temporary benefits are overpaid. Allows the court to require employers and insurance carriers to reimburse other employers and insurance carriers in appropriate cases.

  • Imposes civil penalty of $500 for a first offense and $1000 for a second or subsequent offense against an employer who requires an employee to fraudulently obtain a Certificate of Non-Coverage.

 

HB 2003 (Bastin/Haney) exempts persons who are engaged in "drive-away operations" from the definition of "employee" under the Workers' Compensation Act. Provides definition of "drive-away operations" as persons engaged in the business of transporting (using certain methods) and delivering new or used vehicles by driving. Requires persons involved in "drive-away operations" as defined to obtain in-transit license plates.

 

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