Oklahoma: Bill seeks to allow employers to opt out of comp system
House Bill 1286 would allow employers to participate in workers' comp or notify regulators in writing that they will not obtain the coverage. "In looking at H.B. 1286 and the Texas Labor Code, the language is very similar," said Michael Perez, a Texas-based attorney who also practices in Oklahoma.
Perez, an associate with the Dallas firm of Owen and Fazio, said the proposal would limit the defenses employers could use if sued by injured employees. Under the proposal, employers "cannot assert contributory negligence, assumption of the risk, or that the injury or death was caused by the negligence of a fellow employee," he said. However, employers can defend the action on the grounds that the injury was intentionally caused by the employee or while the employee was intoxicated.
"I believe this would be a good thing," Perez said. "It gives employers a little more role in the process. Hopefully, they can contain medical costs."
Perez also said the bill, if passed, would allow any savings to be put back into safety programs and would expedite the process of getting employees back to work.
"Gov. Fallin's made it very clear she wants to attract more businesses to Oklahoma and I think this is one mechanism to do that," Perez said. "This is one avenue to at least discuss becoming competitive to Texas and attracting new business to Oklahoma."
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
March 7, 2011
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