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Oklahoma workers’ compensation law

Most Oklahoma employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Oklahoma’s workers’ comp system covers employee medical expenses and lost wages resulting from work-related injuries or illnesses.

Who needs workers’ comp insurance in Oklahoma?

The state of Oklahoma imposes stringent workers’ compensation insurance rules on its employers. Every covered worker who suffers a work-related injury or illness is eligible for benefits under Oklahoma’s Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act. However, this law only applies to injuries that happened on or after February 1, 2014.

What types of workers are required to have workers’ comp insurance?

Oklahoma strives to maintain near-universal workers’ comp coverage. This means that generally, everyone working in Oklahoma must have workers’ comp coverage, except the following:

  • Agricultural or horticultural employees working in firms with less than $100,000 in payroll in the prior calendar year
  • Federal government employees or anyone covered under workers’ comp under any act of Congress
  • Licensed real estate sales associates or brokers working on a commission basis
  • Employees providing services in a medical care or social services program or who are part of a Department of Human Services work or training program. (Note: This doesn’t apply if federal law requires the Department of Human Services to provide workers’ comp, unless the entity is a nursing home, in which case the federal exemption doesn’t apply.)
  • Employees in small family-run businesses, defined as those with five or fewer total employees, all of whom are blood relatives of (or related by marriage to) the employer. The family business owner must be a “natural person,” a general or limited partnership, or an incorporator of a corporation (assuming the corporation is the employer).

Do Oklahoma business owners need to be covered by workers’ compensation?

It depends on the type of business you have established. Here’s how Oklahoma’s business owner coverage requirements work:

Sole proprietors are not considered employees. Therefore, they don’t have to buy workers’ comp insurance for themselves. But they may if they want to. If they hire employees and no other exemption applies, then they must provide workers’ comp to their workers.

Members of limited liability companies (LLCs) who own at least 10% of the LLC’s capital are non-employees and exempt under state workers’ comp law. As with sole proprietors, LLC members can purchase workers’ comp insurance if they believe it’s personally beneficial.

Stockholder-employees of corporations are treated the same way as LLC members.

Compare workers' compensation quotes for Oklahoma businesses

Are independent contractors required to have workers’ comp coverage in Oklahoma?

Independent contractors are not considered employees and are exempt from workers’ comp coverage.

The state of Oklahoma uses a complex, multipart test to determine if a worker is a contractor vs. an employee. Factors the government evaluates include:

  • The nature of the contract
  • The degree of control exercised by the principal employer over the work
  • Whether the person works in a distinct occupation or business for others
  • Whether the person works under supervision or independently

How does workers’ comp work in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma business owners can compare quotes and purchase a policy from private insurance companies. (Insureon offers this service with its online insurance marketplace.)

If you’re unable to purchase workers’ comp insurance through the voluntary private market referred to above because your firm’s a high risk, you can purchase coverage from the Oklahoma assigned risk market. CompSource Oklahoma administers this program for the state.

Oklahoma employers who qualify can self-insure their workers’ compensation claims. This means they’ll pay for their own workers’ comp claims rather than submit them to an insurance company.

To qualify for self-insurance, you must apply for an Individual Own Risk Employer Permit with the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission. For instructions, go here.

What is the average cost of workers’ compensation insurance in Oklahoma?

The estimated workers’ comp expense for Oklahoma employers is $1.45 per $100 in covered payroll, according to the National Academy of Social Insurance [PDF].

What are the penalties for not having workers’ comp insurance in Oklahoma?

Violating Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation statute is a serious concern. Here are the penalties you’ll face if you don’t comply with state law:

  • A $1,000 fine for each day you fail to provide workers’ comp insurance to your employees
  • Liability for injured worker lawsuits, leaving you vulnerable to civil litigation
  • A court-ordered shutdown of your business for failure to provide coverage or to pay for the ensuing penalties

Workers’ compensation death benefits in Oklahoma 

If one of your employees dies as a result of a job-related illness or injury, your workers’ comp insurer must pay death benefits to the worker’s survivors.

This involves paying benefits to a surviving spouse and / or surviving dependents of a worker who died because of a compensable work-related injury or occupational disease.

State law determines death benefit payments according to a predefined schedule. Benefits take the form of lump-sum payments, ongoing weekly benefits, and funeral expenses. Survivors of the deceased employees who were not dependent but experienced an economic loss may be eligible for a lump-sum payment.

Workers’ comp settlements in Oklahoma

A workers’ compensation settlement is an agreement between the injured employee, employer, and insurer that cancels a workers’ compensation claim. This benefits both the employee and the employer.

In Oklahoma, many workers’ comp claims end in settlements. This means the parties to the claim – the injured employee, the employer, and the workers’ comp insurer – must agree on a lump-sum payment in return for the employee (or the employee’s survivors) agreeing to forgo future payments.

Workers’ comp settlements in Oklahoma are subject to complex rules, and a workers’ comp judge must approve them.

Workers’ compensation statute of limitations in Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, employees must file a workers’ comp claim within two years from one of the following dates:

  • The date of injury or death
  • The date of payment of any compensation or wages in lieu of compensation
  • The date on which authorized medical care began

Compare free workers’ comp quotes with Insureon

If you are ready to explore workers’ comp insurance options for your Oklahoma business, start a free online application today to compare quotes from multiple carriers.

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