Oklahoma’s sweeping changes to workers’ compensation law in 2013 were intended to reduce on-the-job injury costs for employers. Since that time, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has curtailed some provisions of the new law for the benefit of employees. Most recently, the Court issued a decision for the second time that says workers who are injured on their employers’ premises after stopping work are entitled to workers' compensation coverage.
In this latest case, an employee was injured in the stairwell of his work location while leaving for the day. His claim was denied by the employer’s insurance carrier, and that decision was approved by the Workers' Compensation Commission as well as a state appellate court.
At issue was whether the injury occurred in the “course and scope of employment,” as required by state law for an injury to be covered by workers’ compensation. Course and scope of employment is defined, in part, as “an activity of any kind or character for which the employee was hired and that relates to and derives from the work, business, trade or profession of an employer, and is performed by an employee in the furtherance of the affairs or business of an employer.”
The law goes on to state that course and scope does not include “any injury occurring in a parking lot or other common area adjacent to an employer’s place of business before the employee . . . clocks out or otherwise stops work for the employer.”
The employee’s claim had been denied because he had clocked out and was exiting the building. The insurer claimed that the injury occurred in a “common area adjacent to” the employer’s place business and was therefore excluded from coverage under the law.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court, however, ruled that because the employee’s departure from his work location was required by his employer and was accomplished through the stairwell of the employer’s business premises, the injury occurred in the course and scope of employment. In a previous case, the Court had ruled that an employee of Oklahoma State University who was injured in a fall in an on-campus parking lot was covered.
These two cases indicate that an injury is covered when it occurs on an employer’s premises that are provided for the purpose of reporting to and from work. If you have been denied coverage or have other questions about an on-the-job injury, please call us today at 918-582-2500, or contact us online for a free consultation with an experienced attorney.