Oil Companies Can Be Sued for Workers' Compensation, Court Rules

By Ceylan Pumphrey, Esq. on January 28, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

No one really enjoys having to go to work, so it's especially upsetting if you get injured while at work. Luckily, most employers have workers' compensation insurance. But, you may wonder, which injuries qualify for workers' compensation? And, are all types of businesses required to provide workers' compensation? Well, as it always seems to be when it comes to the law, the answer is: it depends. In Oklahoma, for example, only recently did the Oklahoma Supreme Court decide that workers can sue oil companies for injuries suffered while working.

What Spurred This Decision by the Court?

The Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down part of the state's workers' compensation laws exempted oil and natural gas companies from lawsuits filed by workers who were injured or killed on the job. The ruling came after a lawsuit filed by the family of David Chambers. Chambers was severely burned while working at an oil well site in 2014, and later died from his injuries.

When his daughter filed a wrongful death action against the owner and operator of the oil well site, the defendant -- Stephens Production Company -- argued that under the state's workers' comp laws, it was immune from the lawsuit. With this 8-0 decision (with one judge recused), there is no longer an exemption.

What Injuries Qualify for Workers' Comp?

While the injuries Chambers received seem obviously work-related, you may be wondering what other injuries are compensable under workers' comp. The answer depends on the laws of your state, but generally if it's an injury that occurs at your workplace, then you'll probably be eligible for workers' comp. You may also be eligible if the injury occurred in a car or truck owned by your employer, or if you were engaging in work-related activities at another location.

It can be stressful to suffer an injury on the job, especially if you'll need to miss work. But, you may be eligible for workers' comp, which can provide much needed financial assistance. For more information, you should talk to an attorney in your state.

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