OKLAHOMA CITY (Legal Newsline) -- The Oklahoma Supreme Court will decide whether the state's workers' compensation reform, signed into law six months ago, is constitutional.

The Oklahoman reported Monday that the state's high court will hear arguments Dec. 10.

The new law, signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin in May, seeks to reduce costs for businesses. It moves the state from a court-based workers' compensation system to an administrative system, allowing for more timely processing of claims and reducing the adversarial nature of the process for both workers and employers.

"For decades, Oklahoma has had one of the most expensive and inefficient workers' compensation systems in the country, a constant obstacle for business owners looking to expand operations or create more jobs," the governor said at the time.

"Senate Bill 1062 completely overhauls our flawed workers' comp system, dramatically reducing the costs to businesses and freeing up private-sector resources that can be invested in jobs rather than lawsuits. Additionally, our reforms ensure injured workers are treated fairly and given the medical care needed to return to work.

"This is an important pro-growth policy that will help us attract jobs and build a stronger and more prosperous Oklahoma."

In September, state Sen. Harry Coates, a Republican, and state Rep. Emily Virgin, a Democrat, and the Professional Firefighters of Oklahoma filed a challenge against the constitutionality of the bill.

"As a longtime businessman, I recognize that it's necessary to have workers' compensation rates as low as possible. In fact, I believe we need a workers' compensation administrative system, just not the unconstitutional and unworkable system created by Senate Bill 1062," Coates said at the time.

"It's wrong that a firefighter or any other injured worker should have to pay back benefits after returning to work. This is just one of many problems with this new law."

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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