The Oklahoma House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed Senate Bill 1062, a measure that creates monumental reform to Oklahoma’s workers compensation system.
SB 1062 will convert the state’s current judiciary workers compensation system to an administrative system. Oklahoma is one of only a handful of states that still uses an adversarial judiciary system and businesses suffer from some of the highest workers comp insurance rates in the country due to the system’s inefficiencies. Currently, workers who are injured on the job could wait years for a benefits judgment due to the slow and costly legal process under the current judicial system.
“This is an epic reform, decades in the making,” said House Speaker T.W. Shannon, the House author of SB 1062. “For far too long, injured workers have been neglected and small businesses have been punished by an adversarial system that only benefits personal injury attorneys. Today, that system is dead, replaced by a strong new administrative system that will protect injured workers and lower costs for businesses.”
Under the administrative system proposed in SB 1062, workers compensation cases will be heard by an administrative judge, and cases will receive quick resolutions.
“We must compete with other state’s in our region for skilled workers and business,” said Rep. Leslie Osborn, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee and presenter of HB 2032. “That means Oklahoma must move to a system that quickly and adequately addresses workers comp cases. Neither workers nor businesses will tolerate an archaic system in a 21st century job market.”
“Businesses will be pleased but it is the workers who will see what I believe is the greatest benefit,” said Rep. Mark McCullough, R-Sapulpa. “The new administrative system is designed to help workers get back on the job through therapy and vocational rehabilitation so they can move on with their lives.”
SB 1062 will now move to the Oklahoma Senate for final approval of the House’s amendments and will then move to the desk of Governor Fallin to be signed into law.