One of the main purposes of the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation program is to help ensure that workers obtain the benefits they need, regardless of who caused a workplace injury. While this typically prevents employees from suing responsible parties, there are certain circumstances when lawsuits are permissible for workplace injuries.
Workers employed by entities not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance may need to take alternative legal action to pursue compensation for their injuries. In addition to employees who receive similar coverage under federal laws ― such as railroad workers ― the Department of Labor Commissioner cites a number of situations that exempt employees from receiving benefits, including the following:
- Domestic or household employees where total payroll is less than $10,000 annually
- Agricultural or horticultural employees where total payroll is less than $100,000 annually
- Certain licensed real estate sales persons and brokers
Even if your employer carries workers’ compensation coverage, you still may take legal action against any liable parties as long as they are not directly connected with your employer. Therefore, while you cannot sue a co-worker, you can potentially sue outside contractors who left you exposed to hazards at your workplace, manufacturers of office equipment that injured you or even other drivers whose negligence injured you while you were driving on company business.
Even if a lawsuit is the only option for recovering the costs of workplace injuries, the Oklahoma comparative negligence laws permit you to pursue benefits in accidents only where you are less than 50 percent at fault. In this case, your award is reduced by your own percentage of negligence.
If you believe you have grounds for a third-party lawsuit connected to a workplace injury, you need to seek advice from a knowledgeable Stipe Law Firm workers’ compensation attorney who also has experience in personal injury law. A free consultation can represent time well spent to learn about all the legal options available to you.