NWCDN Members regularly post articles and summary judgements in workers’ compensations law in your state.
Select a state from the dropdown menu below to scroll through the state specific archives for updates and opinions on various workers’ compensation laws in your state.
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OKLAHOMA TRENDS 2021:
Supreme Court new decision on “Course and Scope”.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court in Johnson v Midwest City Del City Public Schools, 2021 OK 29, issued an opinion regarding a smoke break for a school employee. Tobacco use on school property is not permitted. The employee left school property to smoke on their break and was returning when they sustained an injury in the school parking lot. The school denied the claim as not being in the “Course and Scope” of employment. The trial judge ruled in favor of the claimant and was reversed by the Commission En Banc, and the denial was affirmed by the Court of Civil Appeals. The Supreme Court by a 6-3 decision ruled the trial judge was correct to find the injury occurred in the “Course and Scope” of employment. The Supreme Court found that the claimant was on an authorized work break and the employer prohibited the use of tobacco on school premises. The injury occurred as the claimant was reentering the school building. The Supreme Court stated the school treated the parking lot as part of the facility grounds which required the claimant to leave the premises to smoke on their break; therefore, the injury was in the “Course and Scope” of employment and compensable.
Court of Civil Appeals new decision on “Major Cause”.
The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals in Bryan Linn Farms v. Arthur Monsebais, Jr., issued an opinion regarding whether “Major Cause” applies to the cause of the injury and/or the need for medical treatment. The claimant had pre-existing arthritis to his knee. The treating physician and the Court IME said the work injury aggravated the pre-existing condition. Both physicians stated the claimant needed a total knee arthroplasty; however, both stated the major cause of the need for the total knee arthroplasty was the pre-existing arthritis and not the aggravation from the work injury. The trial judge denied the request for the total knee arthroplasty and the Court of Civil Appeals stated the statutory term “Major Cause”, is the test for a compensable injury, but it does not apply to the need for medical treatment. The Commission further stated a claimant is not required to prove that the work injury is the “Major Cause” for a specific medical treatment, only that the work injury is the “Major Cause” of a compensable injury.
Changes to TTD and PPD Rates
The rates awarded for injuries after 1/1/21, have increased to $923.53 for temporary total disability (“TTD”.) The maximum number of weeks for TTD was also increased, in most cases, from 104 weeks to 156 weeks. The rate for permanent partial disability (“PPD”) will increase on 7/1/21 to $360.00.
New Limitations Periods
The Statute of Limitations was shortened to 1 year from the date of injury or 6 months from the date of last benefits paid, whichever is longer. A claim may be dismissed if after 6 months without payment of benefits, no request for a hearing has been filed. An injured worker now has 6 months following an Order for Permanent Partial Disability to file a request to reopen a claim based on a change of condition for the worse.
© Copyright 2021 by John Valentine, Lott and Valentine, PLLC. Reprinted with permission.
6909 N. Robinson, Suite A Oklahoma City, OK 73116 John@lottvalentine.com