Workers' comp system changes
Here are the most significant changes to the workers' compensation system under Senate Bill 1062, which now needs only Gov. Mary Fallin's signature to become law:
• The state's court system will be replaced by an administrative one beginning Feb. 1, 2014, with three appointed commissioners instead of 10 judges.
• Compensation to employees who suffer temporary disability while on the job will be capped at 70 percent of the state average weekly wage, or about $540 per week, and payments will be awarded for 104 weeks instead of 156.
• Compensation to employees who suffer permanent disability while on the job will remain capped at $343 per week but for a total of 350 weeks instead of 520. Compensation also will be stopped once an employee returns to work but will be guaranteed if the worker has to leave again or is fired.
• Employees will be allowed to make a one-time change of treating physician, but must select from a list of three doctors provided by the employer.
• Employers will be allowed to opt out of the workers' compensation system altogether so long as they provide the same forms of benefits required under the administrative system.
• Employers also can require employees to settle claims and disputes through arbitration.
Zeke Campfield, Staff Writer