Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Update
Recently decided cases in Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Law

OKLAHOMA WORKERS’ COMPENSATION UPDATE

Q.   Are shareholders of a corporation personally liable for a workers’ compensation award to an employee if the business fails to secure workers’ compensation insurance or own risk policy?

A.   No.  The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled that a business’ failure to secure workers’ compensation insurance does not render its shareholders personally liable for a workers’ compensation award to an employee. Absent a showing that there was a design or scheme to perpetrate a fraud or defeat public convenience, justify wrong, or defend crime the statutory protection afford to the shareholders of a corporation cannot be trumped by gross mismanagement including the failure to secure workers’ compensation coverage. 

The one exception to this rule is when the corporation has a single shareholder that holds the position of president, director and owner of the corporation.

Kenkel v. Parker, 2015 OK 81


Q. May the Court determine a claimant was terminated for cause when the issue of claimant’s termination is not before the Court?

A. No.   Notice of the issues to be decided at trial must be given to both parties prior to the trial; therefore, if the issue of termination for cause was not an issue both parties received notice for the Court may not adjudicate the issue. The Court may only rule on issues in which both parties have been given notice.  For example, if the issue before the Court is temporary total disability and that was the only issue that both parties received notice for, at trial, the Court cannot decide the issue of permanent partial disability.  

LMR Oil, LLC v. Frazier, 2015 OK CIV APP 84


Q.  Can a statute be applied retroactively to a claimant’s previous award, which was adjudicated under a superseded statute?

A. No.  The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled that absent legislative intent to apply a statute retroactively; retroactive application of a statue violates the claimant’s constitutional right under Art. V § 54, of the Oklahoma Constitution, which provides that the repeal of a statute shall not affect any accrued right by virtue of a repealed statute.   Therefore, the statute in effect at the time of a claimant’s injury controls the case indefinitely unless the legislators’ intent is to apply the current statute retroactively. 

Shepard v. Oklahoma Department of Corrections, 2015 OK 8 


Q. Is an employee within the course and scope of their employment when they arrive in a parking lot maintained by the employer for the start of their shift?

A. Yes. The Oklahoma Civil Court of Appeals has ruled an employee’s ingress or egress to work on employer maintained property is essential to the employee’s job functions and not considered a personal mission. Therefore, if a an employee sustains an injury on employer maintained property while attempting to report for work to start their shift or leaving work at the end of their shift the injury is considered to be within the course and scope of their employment. 

Wagoner Community Hospital v. Nofire, Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals Case No. 113,702


© 2016 McAnany, Van Cleave & Phillips, P.A.
Disclaimer and warning: This information was published by McAnany, Van Cleave & Phillips, P.A., and is to be used only for general informational purposes and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances.  This is not inclusive of all exceptions and requirements which may apply to any individual claim.  It is imperative to promptly obtain legal advice to determine the rights, obligations and options of a specific situation.