Failure to certify comp award leaves worker's claim in the cold
Estep v. Argonaut Insurance Co., et al., No. CIV-08-79-C (W.D. Okla. 08/17/09).
The U.S. District Court, Western District of Oklahoma granted the carrier's summary judgment motion, finding the worker's bad faith claim was barred because he had failed to certify his compensation award with the District Court before attempting to pursue the claim.
What it means:
In Oklahoma, an injured worker must certify with the court that his workers' compensation award was unpaid before he can proceed in the District Court on a claim against a carrier for its failure to exercise its duty of good faith and fair dealing.
A worker was awarded temporary total disability benefits for his on-the-job injuries. The carrier failed to pay the worker as directed by the order of the workers' compensation court for almost two months. The worker filed a bad faith action against the carrier. The carrier paid the worker past-due benefits the same day the action was filed and continued to pay all his benefits from that date forward. The carrier argued the worker's bad faith claim was barred because he did not first certify his compensation award with the court as required by Oklahoma law. The District Court noted that Oklahoma law allows a worker to proceed against a carrier for failure to pay within 10 days. However, the law requires a worker to first have an unpaid monetary award certified. The worker can either file a copy of the certified award in a District Court as a judgment and seek to enforce it or file a bad faith claim against the carrier for failure to timely pay. The court therefore found the worker's claim was barred because he failed to certify the award before proceeding on his claim.
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September 28, 2009
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