The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Wednesday stated a worker who was badly hurt crossing a hectic highway to get to work can sue his company.
The state’s high court, in choosing Harwood v. Ardagh Group, ruled that employees comp is not an unique solution for injuries that are defined in law as not occurring from employment.
“We agree that if there is an actionable claim for neglect in this cause, it is covered by tort law and may be generated the district court and that denial of employees’ payment advantages due to the fact that a staff member was not ‘in the course’ of work does not prevent such a carelessness action,” the court stated.
Jerry Harwood worked for Ardagh Group’s glass plant in Sapulpa, Oklahoma. The plant is on the west side of Oklahoma Highway 66, and employees were instructed to use two parking ears on the east side of the highway.
Mr. Harwood was struck by a car walking back to the car park after finishing a shift in July 2016 and suffered severe injuries that left him completely and absolutely disabled.
An administrative law judge figured out that Mr. Harwood’s injuries weren’t compensable since he was injured on a public highway, that Ardagh did not own or manage the location, which the mishap didn’t arise out of work. The Employees’ Payment Commission affirmed, as did the Court of Civil Appeals.
Mr. Harwood then sued his employer, declaring the business negligently failed to make sure sufficient lighting and security for workers utilizing the crosswalk.
A trial court in April 2019 dismissed the match, ruling Ardagh did not have a task to make the crosswalk safer. An amended petition was also dismissed.
The majority viewpoint of the Supreme Court said an analysis of the state’s compensation laws was important to reaching their choice.
“Because we have actually held that the company may have assumed the task to provide a safer crosswalk for access to an employer-designated parking area, the staff member has actually pled a case for relief which is legally possible,” the court concluded. “The court house doors are open to the worker. Whether or not the actions of the company were the proximate reason for the injury to the appellant is one for the jury to choose.”
Three justices dissented, stating they do not think the employer had a responsibility to make the crosswalk safe.
WorkCompCentral is a sis publication of Company Insurance coverage. More stories here.