Workers’ Comp Law Changes Limit Your Time To File, Reduce Available Benefits

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin recently signed a bill that has unfortunate consequences for people who have been injured on the job.  Signed into law May 6, the new regulations:

  • Limit the time you have to file a workers compensation claim if you have been hurt on the job — If you do not report a single-event injury (such as falling off a ladder and injuring your knee) within a “reasonable amount of time,” you will now have limited ability to proceed with filing a claim.  Other new regulations affect cumulative injuries.  Because the new time limits are complicated and time sensitive, it is best to talk with a workers’ comp attorney immediately.
  • Cut financial benefits that you can receive.  The new law reduces the amount of benefits you can receive by 30 percent.  That means less money for your and your family.
  • Effectively removes some types of injuries that are currently covered under workers comp laws.  For example, injuries caused by exposure to hazardous chemicals and cumulative injuries which are currently covered will be, in effect, no longer covered.  Examples of these injuries include asbestosis and carpal tunnel syndrome. 
  • Effectively reduces your right to re-open a case — The time frame is shrinking from three years down to one year.  This means if there is a change in your medical condition, your options are about to be drastically limited.
  • Changes the state’s workers’ compensation system from a court-based process to an administrative program.  This severely limits your ability to be represented by an attorney of your choice.

What Can I Do To Protect My Rights?

The best thing you can do is talk with a workers’ comp attorney today.  The new law can be confusing to understand, and the time limits are extremely important.  The new law goes into effect in 2014, so don’t delay.  If you miss the deadline, your family may suffer because of reduced benefits.
If you or your loved one has been injured on the job, you need to contact an attorney immediately.  The deadlines caused by the new law mean that you should consult with a lawyer now in order to have time to possibly file a law suit.  Because workers comp law is complicated, and obtaining medical records is time consuming, it is important to discuss your accident now with an attorney; if you wait until later in the year, it could be too late.  After the deadlines imposed by the new law, your ability to file a workers’ comp claim may be barred forever, no matter how badly you are hurt.
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