It has certainly been a busy summer in the world of Oklahoma workers’ compensation. The Supreme Court gave us an answer in Hill on the use of the 6th Edition for the evaluation of disability. We also received two Court of Civil Appeals opinions providing clarification of the statute of limitations. In Rolled Alloys v. Wilson, COCA published an opinion stating the date of last exposure controls the start of the statute of limitation in cumulative trauma claims. COCA further held in the case of Green Country PT v. Sylvester that the statute of limitations in admitted cases is either two years from the date of injury or one year from the payment of medical treatment or Temporary Total Disability, whichever is longer.
Perhaps the biggest case that is still pending is the challenge to the maximum rate of Temporary Total Disability. The Court of Civil Appeals was assigned the case of Hidalgo v. Unit Drilling on November 28, 2017. In this case, Claimant’s average weekly wage was $1,446.65. However, Claimant was limited to the statutory maximum of $571.55 under the Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act. This resulted in a loss of more than $2,000.00 per month while on Temporary Total Disability. Claimant argues this is a shift of the economic burden to the injured worker without a legitimate state interest. They specifically argue this example is exactly what workers’ compensation was supposed to prevent. The issue will be whether the appellate courts find the reduction in Temporary Total Disability rate is an acceptable legislative action leaving Claimant’s remedy with the legislature or if this reduction amounts to a constitutional violation.
The appellate courts also continue to provide direction in a case by case basis on the issues of coming and going, pre-existing conditions, and parking lot injuries. Please continue to reach out to me, Connie, or Jay with questions on the new law or specific fact patterns that you may have.