Workers' Compensation in Oklahoma allows employees to obtain wages and medical benefits if they are injured on the job in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and surrounding areas. In exchange, the employee gives up the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against his employer unless intentional wrongdoing is found. This no-fault system is viewed as a "grand bargain." It benefits injured employees, who receive compensation even if they were at fault, and their employers, which won't have to worry about making huge payouts for pain and suffering and other damages.
But in a surprising ruling in Oklahoma on Jan. 9, a judge decided that an injured worker can sue his employer for negligence. The Pottawatomie County district judge concluded that an injury a tire worker sustained was "foreseeable," and therefore the employer can be held liable.
Challenges to Workers' Comp Court Decision Expected
According to a report in NewsOK, the "monumental" decision, which likely will be reviewed by the State Supreme Court, is viewed as a significant challenge to the new Oklahoma Workers' Compensation System.
Workers' compensation attorneys in Oklahoma know the district judge's Jan. 9 ruling may have an impact on most workplace accidents. One attorney quoted by NewsOK stated that nearly all workplace accidents are foreseeable. In other words, they are reasonably predictable. Examples cited by NewsOK of typical accidents that could be viewed as foreseeable: a firefighter who suffers smoke inhalation while battling a blaze; an oil worker who slips while on a slick drilling platform.
On the surface, the ruling appears to be a win for injured workers, who may be able to receive more compensation than they would if they received a standard workers' compensation settlement. However, NewsOK quotes an official from the State Chamber of Oklahoma, which represents businesses. "This decision will lessen the likelihood that injured workers will receive quick compensation for workplace injuries," said Jonathan Buxton, senior vice president of government affairs for the organization
The workers' comp law has come under fire from attorneys since it was drafted by legislators in 2013. While lawmakers decided to move the workers' comp system from court-based to administrative, the changes have been viewed as unconstitutional by many attorneys.
At Lawter & Associates, PLLC, our experienced Oklahoma workers' comp attorneys know that injured workers often can face a confusing and complicated system when they are simply trying to get the compensation and health benefits they deserve. As lawyers who are well-versed in the law and on top of the latest court decisions and challenges, we have the knowledge to help workers successfully navigate the system. We encourage you to call us today for a free consultation if you were injured on the job and need quality legal assistance.
An attorney at Lawter & Associates, Attorneys at Law, PLLC can help pursue a workers' compensation claim. Call 866-584-1027 or 866-584-1028 for a free case evaluation. Serving Tulsa, Oklahoma City and surrounding areas.