Oklahoma recently passed a new bill that overhauls the state workers compensation system. It consists of 3 parts:
- Replaces our court based workers comp system with an administrative one. This will be run by a three member commission. The old system will continue for any claims filed before 2/1/14. The changes to this system alone are expected to reduce workers comp rates by about 14% according to NCCI. This part of the law is based on the Arkansas system.
- Creates an Opt-Out system similar to Texas with important differences: Oklahoma's system will maintain sole remedy like workers comp and will require employers to meet certain requirements to participate. Examples of this include purchasing occupational accident insurance to meet its financial obligations. It also contains guarantee fund participation for insurers that operate in this system.
- Creates Workers Comp Arbitration act. This allows employers to implement an alternative dispute resolution for those under the Administrative system with binding arbitration.
I will continue to release more information on this bill throughout the next several months. It is truly a massive overhaul of our workers comp system. Most expect legal challenges to this new law before it takes effect next year.