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Does Your Employer Have To Follow Federal Workers' Comp Laws?

Texas once stood alone as the only state allowing employers to opt out of workers' compensation laws. Oklahoma soon followed the Lone Star State in creating laws specifically for the state.

Legislators in South Carolina and Tennessee have also introduced opt out bills, only to see their efforts stall. South Carolina legislation may return with amendments. Tennessee Rep. Jeremy Durham, pulled the bill he sponsored amidst a scandal involving sexting and an extra-marital affair.

Bill Minick, President of PartnerSource, a company that "serves the Texas Nonsubscriber Option and Oklahoma Option needs of numerous employers headquartered across the United States." With the support of corporate America, the man considered the pioneer of successful opt out legislation spearheads the nationwide campaign.

ProPublica and NPR reviewed injury benefit plans in a study of 120 Texas and Oklahoma companies who have their own workers' compensation plans. Universally, benefits decreased while restrictions increased. Programs lack independent oversight.

Lifetime benefits have been replaced by two-years of coverage. Employers can select doctors, settle claims, and set up committees to handle appeals.

Specific findings in Texas include the following:

·         Statewide McDonalds' do not cover carpel tunnel syndrome.

·         Taco Bell workers may have their employers accompany them at doctor appointments.

·         Sears employees who do not report injuries by the end of their shift can be denied benefits.

Opponents continue to hope for a slow death to opt out laws while other states monitor any potential movement of future bills. Regardless of the entity that governs workers' compensation, legal help is vital.

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Lawyer, Lawyer, Dutton & Drake, L.L.P.

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