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Feds probing workers' compensation opt-outs in 2 states

Ohio has a state-run workers’ compensation system, as do many other states. A couple of states have laws allowing employers to opt out of the system and go with a cheaper, private plan instead. That right to opt out is drawing scrutiny from federal lawmakers and regulators, possibly putting it in jeopardy.

Workers’ compensation laws differ from state to state, but the U.S. Labor Department performed oversight of state systems until 2004. As Business Insurance reports, back in October several members of Congress wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor, asking the agency for a report on how it would, theoretically, go back to ensuring compliance with recommended federal workers’ comp standards.

The congressional letter focused on opt-out options in Texas and Oklahoma, claiming that they shifted the cost of many workplace injuries to taxpayers, by causing more injured workers to apply for state or federal benefits. The Labor Department is reportedly investigating Texas’ and Oklahoma’s programs for possible violations of federal laws like the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Act.

Any increase in federal bureaucracy could slow down workers’ compensation disputes in Ohio. Employees have a right to seek compensation after an injury, but employers also have the right to dispute dubious claims, and to ensure that legitimate claims are awarded at appropriate level.

To do that, employers need legal assistance from an attorney experienced with representing employers in workers’ comp disputes. Contact a workers’ compensation defense attorney for more information.

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