The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled a key clause of a worker’s compensation
reform law unconstitutional. The provision allows employers to opt-out
of traditional workers compensation insurance if they provide a separate
plan for their employees.
Springfield personal injury attorneys at
Aaron Sachs & Associates P.C. present the following workers’ comp case as an example.
The Case of Vasquez v. Dillard’s
In Vasquez v. Dillard’s, Inc., Vasquez injured her neck and shoulder
in a work-related injury. She received initial compensation, but was later
denied benefits when the company claimed her injury was part of a preexisting
While Vasquez’s injury should have been covered under the Administrative
Workers’ Compensation Act, Dillard’s denied her claim because
employers who opt-out of state workers compensation are allowed to select
which types of injuries are covered, the length of time, and which doctors
injured employees can see.
Vasquez appealed to the Workers’ Compensation Commission, who ruled
the opt-out clause was unconstitutional. Dillard’s then filed an
appeal with the Oklahoma Supreme court which sided with the state’s ruling.
The Outcome of the Opt-Out Act
The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled “the Opt-Out Act does not guarantee
members of the subject class, all employees, the same rights when a work-related
injury occurs. Rather, it provides employers the authority to single out
their injured employees for inequitable treatment.”
In fact, the court found in many cases, workers did not have the same access
to benefits and coverage that are covered under workers compensation laws,
such as a time limit for reporting an injury, receiving benefits, and
even a more narrowed definition of what is considered a work-related injury.
The ruling will likely have a wide-ranging impact as several other states
have opt-out provisions, including Tennessee, Illinois, and Wisconsin.
In Texas, the opt-out provision is fully implemented.
To learn more about this case, or for assistance with your
workers’ compensation claim, please do not hesitate to reach out to our Springfield personal injury
schedule an appointment.