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Lawsuit Questions Constitutionality of Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Benefits Law

by Keith Adkins

When an employee working in The Sooner State is injured, they may have a right to Oklahoma workers’ compensation benefits. However, the laws governing how, and to whom, these benefits are distributed can be extremely complicated. In fact, these complications have led to two injured workers filing lawsuits against their employers and the case has made its way to the Supreme Court on a challenge regarding the constitutionality of certain parts of these laws.

An article from the Insurance Journal says that injured workers question the constitutionality of a loophole in the law that allows employers who carry their own private workers’ compensation packages to “opt out” of participating in the state’s new administrative workers’ compensation system. Furthermore, the workers contend the loophole robs injured workers of their right to a fair trial by allowing employers to choose whether a judge or administrative committee will hear an employee’s case.

The victims work for two of the 33 business in the state that have been approved to “opt out” of the new Oklahoma workers’ compensation benefits system.

At Colbert Cooper Hill Attorneys, we recognize the frustrations and difficulties that can accompany an on-the-job injury. That’s why our Oklahoma personal injury lawyers are hopeful a decision in this case will bring a sense of closure to each of the workers who were hurt through no fault of their own.

 

Workplace Violence Seminar Offered at Oklahoma City Community College

by Keith Adkins

Employers have a responsibility to protect employees from workplace dangers, including acts of violence. This is important, considering the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports nine percent of all workplace fatalities that occurred in 2013 were the result of homicide.

So what’s being done to better protect the citizens of Oklahoma from workplace violence? The Oklahoma City workers’ compensation lawyers from Colbert Cooper Hill Attorneys point out there is an upcoming seminar that aims to give employees an understanding of what actions to take when there is an active shooter on a job site.

According to an article from the Edmond Sun, the seminar is being put on by Oklahoma City Community College’s Professional Development Institute and will take place February 11-13 and again on March 11-13. Topics that will be covered will include being aware of your surroundings and situation at all times, knowing others in your workplace, how to have a survivalist mentality, creating a plan of action, and the role of law enforcement in violent workplace scenarios.

The course will be instructed by a retired law enforcement officer who is also safety certified.

At Colbert Cooper Hill Attorneys, we know the importance of workplace safety and preventing violence and our Oklahoma personal injury lawyers encourage anyone who is concerned about on-the-job safety to consider attending this upcoming event.

How One Court Ruling Could Affect Your Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Benefits Claim

by Keith Adkins

If there’s one thing that’s been consistent in the Oklahoma workers’ compensation system over the last several years, it’s change. In 2013, the state revamped the way it would handle claims for Oklahoma workers’ compensation benefits from a judicial system to an administrative one. Now, a ruling issued by a judge could once again change the way Oklahoma workers’ compensation claims are handled. To understand this potential reform though, you must first understand the legalities of the state’s workers compensation system.

Oklahoma workers’ compensation law states that workers will be compensated for injuries that occur in the line of duty without having to prove negligence. In return, businesses are protected from workers filing costly lawsuits against the company when and if an accident occurs. The state aimed to continue to ease the strains lawsuits can place on the courtroom when the move was made from a judicial to an administrative workers’ compensation claims system two years ago. But now, a ruling by a judge could unravel those efforts.

The Oklahoman reports a judge has ruled an injured worker can sue an employer for negligence because the accident was considered “foreseeable.” This means that a case which would have been an Oklahoma workers’ compensation benefits case will be handled in the courtroom. Furthermore, the case opens the floodgates for similar cases to be moved to the courts in the future.

Issues like these are why it’s so important to have a qualified Oklahoma personal injury lawyer by your side if you’re filing for workers’ compensation benefits. At Colbert Cooper Hill Attorneys, we want to help with your case. Call us at (877) 579-6800 for a free initial consultation.

New Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation System Rife With Issues

by Keith Adkins

Oklahoma recently converted from handling their workers’ compensation claims in the state’s court system to issuing these decisions through an administrative process, and the results have caused several complications.

One of the biggest problems with the conversion is that the wording of the new law prohibits some deserving employees from collecting Oklahoma workers’ compensation benefits. The new law requires injuries to be “unforeseen.” So, if workers in the manufacturing industry suffer an injury caused by a repetitive motion or action, they aren’t covered because such an injury may be classified as “expected” over time.

More disturbing is the fact that first responders—such as police, firemen, paramedics, and other healthcare workers—are not covered by Oklahoma workers’ compensation benefits if they develop an infectious disease as the result of on-the-job exposure. An article from the Edmond Sun highlighted several other issues the new changes to the law have created.

This may leave you wondering what options you have if you were hurt at work and are considering filing a workers’ compensation claim in Oklahoma. At Colbert Cooper Hill Attorneys, our legal team has decades of combined experience that and the knowledge to answer any questions you may have about the legal processes surrounding workers’ compensation benefits.

Learn more about what our Oklahoma personal injury lawyers can do for you by calling our office anytime—day or night—at (877) 579-6800.

AG Says Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission Meetings Must Be Public

by Keith Adkins

When an Oklahoman is hurt on the job, they may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. It’s important to remember that being approved for these benefits can sometimes be a difficult process that may require the Board of Workers’ Compensation Commissioners hear your claim.

The commissioners recently received clarification as to how they should handle Oklahoma workers’ compensation denial and appeal hearings when the state’s Attorney General ordered all the commissioners meetings be held in public.

According to an article from the Insurance Journal, the commissioners hoped to “maintain the confidentiality of the deliberative process” by holding the meetings where they discuss Oklahoma workers’ compensation claims and potential decisions in private. After being reviewed by the Attorney General’s Office, it was determined that it would be a violation of the Administrative Procedures Act to hold closed meetings.

At least 18 cases were put on hold until a decision could be reached on the issue. Now, the commission has stated they will hear at least eight of the cases that were put on hold several months ago.

The issue highlights why it’s still important to have an attorney by your side when filing for workers’ compensation benefits in Oklahoma. At Colbert Cooper Hill Attorneys, our Oklahoma personal injury lawyers are here to help if you’ve been hurt on the job and are struggling to receive the compensation you deserve. Call us today at (877) 578-6800 to discuss your case.

Family Awarded $503,000 in Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Benefits

by Staff

When an employee in Oklahoma is injured or killed while performing their job duties, they or their family may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits; however, proving such a case can often be a difficult process—especially if the employer denies responsibility.

Take the Oklahoma workers’ compensation case that was filed by the family of a man who was killed in an accident that occurred during firefighter training. Reports indicate the Chief of the fire department the victim worked for claimed in court that he never met the victim, despite having written a letter of recommendation for him.

According to an article from The Republic, the victim was training with the Barnsdall Fire Department in 2008 when he was killed. The family filed for Oklahoma workers’ compensation benefits, but the claim was denied after the Barnsdall Fire Department’s Chief denied knowing, hiring, or working with the victim.

The family took the claim to court and provided a letter of recommendation that was written on the victim’s behalf by the Chief and his wife for a position within another city’s fire department.

The court sided with the family, saying the Chief’s actions could be considered fraudulent, and awarded the family $503,000 in benefits.

The Oklahoma personal injury lawyers with Colbert Cooper Hill Attorneys are hopeful the decision brings closure to the loss of the family of the victim.

New Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation System Facing Heavy Scrutiny

by Staff

There have been some major changes made to the Oklahoma workers’ compensation system recently. One of those reforms is the implementation of an administrative panel to oversee the handling of work-related injury claims in the state, but the individuals who have been placed on the panel have already been accused of wrongdoings that could lead to employees not getting the benefits they deserve.

A story from the Insurance Journal explains the members of a new state agency overseeing workers’ compensation claims took votes on topics in closed sessions; however, the state’s Open Meeting Act requires some of these discussions and votes to be held in a public forum.

So far, one member of the agency has been relieved of duties and investigators are looking into any possible violations that may have been committed by other members.

The investigation was sparked by the firing of sixteen employees of the former Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Court, who allege the termination of their positions was in violation of the Open Meeting Act. They say the agency violated the law when the decision to end their employment was not made during a public meeting.

The scandal has led to other meetings regarding the transparency of the new agency to be postponed until a later date.

At Colbert Cooper Hill Attorneys, we know the laws overseeing the state’s workers’ compensation system are complex. That’s why our Oklahoma personal injury lawyers are here to answer any questions you may have regarding your claim.

Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation System Continuing To Undergo Changes

by Keith Adkins

The Oklahoma workers’ compensation system has undergone a massive shift in recent months, moving from a judicial platform to a more administrative system for processing claims. These changes are continuing as citizens see a growing push for Oklahoma workers’ compensation coverage to be included in an employee’s health insurance.

The consideration to make such a move has stirred quite a controversy among experts and employees alike though. While some argue that better and broader insurance coverage will help to prevent workplace accidents from occurring in the first place by making the workforce healthier, others believe the push would lead to claims that would otherwise be processed through the workers’ compensation system now being wrongfully covered under a health insurance policy.

Healthcare Finance News goes on to explain that one of the biggest hurdles that must be overcome before such changes could be fully implemented is filling the gaps between the numerous state laws that govern the two systems that are currently run as separate entities.

At Colbert Cooper Hill Attorneys, our Oklahoma personal injury lawyers are familiar with both the insurance and workers’ compensation systems and are available to speak with you about any questions you may have regarding a claim you are preparing to make or that has been denied in the past.

Oklahoma Workers Compensation Commission Begins Processing Claims

by Staff

Getting those who have been injured while on the job the benefits they need to cover expenses in a timely manner is important to officials in Oklahoma. In fact, vigorous efforts have been made to improve the state’s workers compensation system in recent years and the fruits of those labors are beginning to show.

The Oklahoma Workers Compensation Lawyers with J. Colbert Injury Lawyers explain the Oklahoma Workers Compensation Commission (OWCC) recently launched a new website. Furthermore, the agency has opened several new offices to support workers who are filing claims.

An article from KFOR 4 News, the website is designed to supply workers with the information and documents they need to begin and see a claim through the approval process. The website is part of several changes that were enacted by law last year and aimed at moving the state’s workers’ compensation program to a more administrative format.

The OWCC has also opened offices in both Tulsa and Oklahoma City to better assist those who are applying for benefits. The offices began processing claims on Monday, February 3.

The Oklahoma Personal Injury Lawyers with J. Colbert Injury Lawyers are aware of how confusing the changes to the workers compensation system may be to some. That is why the firm is here to answer any questions you may have regarding your potential workers compensation claim.

Two Workers Killed and Another Injured In Oklahoma Plant Explosion

by Staff

The dangers that fires and explosions pose to workers in numerous industries are a serious threat to safety. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that approximately 132 individuals died in 2012 as a result of such accidents. The Oklahoma Workers Compensation Lawyers with J. Colbert Injury Lawyers explain that an explosion and subsequent fire that broke out at an Oklahoma steel mill yesterday was responsible for claiming the lives of two workers and left another seriously injured.

According to a story from Reuters, the incident occurred at approximately 4:00 p.m. on Monday, January 20, at the Mid American Steel and Wire facility located in Madill, Oklahoma. Reports indicate a furnace at the facility overheated, causing the unit to explode. Two workers died at the scene as a result of injuries sustained in the blast, while a third victim was transported to a local trauma center. The surviving victim was treated for burn injuries and was later released.

John Colbert and his team of Oklahoma Personal Injury Lawyers are aware of the difficulties that can accompany an injury or loss of a loved one due to an unforeseen work-related accident. That is why the firm would like to send their deepest sympathies to the families of the workers who were killed in this recent tragedy. They would also like to wish the injured victim a speedy and full recovery.