In 2013, lawmakers in Oklahoma got rid of the court-centered workers’ compensation system and established the Workers’ Compensation Commission in its place. This completely changed the way workers’ compensation claims were handled in the state of Oklahoma, but the changes did not stop there. Several months ago, Governor Kevin Stitt approved new legislation that will change certain aspects of the workers’ compensation system. Here’s how this new law will affect workers’ compensation:
Increases the Temporary Total Disability Benefits Cap
In the past, injured workers who qualified for temporary total disability benefits were awarded weekly payments in an amount equal to 70% of their average weekly wage, not to exceed 70% of the state’s weekly wage. The new law increases the cap on these benefits to 100% of the state’s average weekly wage, which is a win for injured workers.
Increases Permanent Partial Disability Benefits
The new law will affect permanent partial disability benefits, too. Prior to this law, these benefits were capped at $323 per week, but they are now capped at $350 per week. This cap will increase to $360 per week beginning in 2021.
Injured workers may receive permanent partial disability benefits for even longer than before thanks to the new law. The maximum number of weeks has been increased from 350 to 360, so injured workers may now qualify for up to 10 more weeks of payments.
Use of the American Medical Association Guidelines
Under the old law, medical professionals who treated patients with work-related injuries were advised to use official disability guidelines, or ODGs. Now, medical professionals who treat these patients are required to follow these guidelines. This means medical professionals must consult these guidelines to determine the best way to treat a patient with a work-related injury.
Many healthcare professionals are unhappy about this portion of the law because they believe they should be able to recommend a treatment that is best for their patients without worrying about what the guidelines say. Healthcare professionals also believe that insurance companies could deny any claims for treatments that were not recommended by the guidelines, even if the treatment was in the patient’s best interest.
It is still too early to tell how this law will affect workers in Oklahoma, but it’s important to be aware of these changes so you know what to expect in the event you are injured at work.
Have you suffered a work-related injury? If so, contact the dedicated attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. at once. Let us stand by your side and fight for the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve after a workplace injury. Call us at (918) 582-2500 or toll-free at (800) 722-8880 or complete the simple form below for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.