Real-world effects — not emotional, irrational arguments — should be basis for work comp changes

The Oklahoman Editorial Modified: April 18, 2013 at 7:00 am •  Published: April 18, 2013

Who would suffer are the relatively few lawyers who specialize in workers’ comp claims, raking in cash by doing little but paying secretaries and paralegals to keep the paperwork moving from point to point. If ever an issue called for rational, nonemotional arguments, this is it. The rational argument is that Oklahoma workers’ comp system is needlessly adversarial. This not only benefits lawyers for the claimants but those who defend the cases as well. This was also true of tort reform. In fact, attorneys defending sued parties are paid regardless of the outcome. Lawyers for the plaintiffs typically collect only if they win.

The business community has waited a long time for workers’ comp reform. Incremental steps to achieve reform haven’t gotten the job done. The fix being proposed isn’t a panacea. Nor is it a devastating blow to the rights of injured workers — as “Oklahoma Works” and other reform opponents would have you believe.

We would have more respect for the anti-reform forces if they would come clean and admit that they’re funding the emotion-laden campaign because they stand to lose money if reform is enacted. The state as a whole stands to gain money from reform by making the system less adversarial and by communicating to the nation that Oklahoma is a state that wants businesses to prosper rather than see revenues soaked up by workers’ comp attorneys.

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