Switching from a workers' compensation court system to an administrative system in Oklahoma would about double the state's annual operating cost — at least initially, says Michael Clingman, court administrator.
The extra cost is because workers are entitled to have their claims decided based on the system in place at the time of injury, thus requiring the state to operate a dual system for many years, he indicated.
“It seems likely that the three-year cost of dual systems would run approximately $41 million, or roughly $20 million more than the current system for the first three years,” Clingman wrote in a letter to the chairman of the Advisory Council on Workers' Compensation Reform.
Clingman cautioned that accurate cost projections are impossible without knowing specifics about how an administrative system would be set up. For example, it would cost a lot more to conduct hearings at locations across the state than at one or two central locations, he said.
The Oklahoma Legislature is considering a number of proposals to switch from a workers' compensation court system to an administrative system. Many business groups have been pushing for such a change, contending it would reduce the cost of their workers' compensation insurance premiums.