Uninsured Oklahoma Employers
RECOVERY OF BENEFITS FROM UNINSURED OKLAHOMA EMPLOYERS
COMPENSATION ACTIONS DIRECTLY AGAINST UNINSURED EMPLOYERS
Any employer or independent contractor in Oklahoma is liable for workers compensation due to his or her direct employees. Any Oklahoma employer who fails or neglects to provide & otherwise obtain workers compensation insurance coverage for its injured employee(s) is directly liable at law for all monetary and medical benefits, as well as a workers comp settlement, due its injured employee(s) as if such employer had carried proper work comp insurance coverage. The fact that any Oklahoma employer chooses not to purchase mandated workmans compensation insurance coverage for its injured Oklahoma City or Tulsa area employee(s) does not relieve it from full liability under both the Oklahoma Workmans Comp Act and the Oklahoma common law enforced through the Oklahoma Federal or State District Courts. In other words: NO EXCUSES ARE ALLOWED. In fact–most uninsured Oklahoma employers don’t fair well and are treated quite harshly by both the Oklahoma City & Tulsa Workmens Compensation Courts as well as the Oklahoma District Courts. A claim for liability & benefits against the direct uninsured employer can be had by the hurt worker &/or his or her attorneys or lawyers in one of two mutually exclusive ways:
- THE OKLAHOMA WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COURTS: An Oklahoma worker injured on his or her job and otherwise entitled to Workmens Comp benefits under Oklahoma law can rightfully maintain an action in either the Oklahoma City or Tulsa Workers Comp Court against his or her employer who neglects or refuses to carry work comp insurance as mandated by law. Having pursued his or her case to a final order or award by the Oklahoma Workmans Compensation Court such worker &/or his or her attorneys or lawyers can recover these benefits through the Oklahoma Workmans Comp Court’s limited methods of collection and enforcement (i.e. penalties, contempt & interest). If unsuccessful, the injured worker &/or his or her attorney or lawyer can then file an appropriate motion and thereby ask either the Oklahoma City or Tulsa Workmens Compensation Court to certify any final order or award for filing with the appropriate Oklahoma District Court for collection.
- OKLAHOMA DISTRICT COURTS: If an employer has failed or refused to secure the payment of workmens comp benefits for its injured employee(s) as provided by Oklahoma law, an injured Oklahoma City or Tulsa area employee &/or his or her attorneys or lawyers, or his legal representatives if death results from the injury, may all maintain a civil action or lawsuit in the Federal or State District Courts of Oklahoma, for money damages on account of such injury, and in such action the uninsured employer &/or his attorney or lawyer may not plead or prove as a defense any of the following: (1) that the injury or accident was caused by the negligence or carelessness of a co-employee or coworker of the injured employee; (2) that the hurt employee assumed the risk of his or her employment: or (3) that the injury was due to the contributory negligence of the inured employee. In sum–THE EXCLUSIVE REMEDY OF THE OKLAHOMA WORKERS COMPENSATION ACT DOES NOT PROTECT AN UNINSURED EMPLOYER FROM A LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST IT IN THE OKLAHOMA DISTRICT COURTS BY OR ON BEHALF OF ITS INJURED WORKER.
NOTE: If an immediate employer has failed to obtain &/or provide workers comp insurance to cover the payment of compensation and other benefits for its injured employee(s) as required by Oklahoma law–the injured employee, his or her attorneys or lawyers, or his legal representative may maintain an action either in the Oklahoma Work Comp Court or in the District Courts, but not both.
COMPENSATION CASES AGAINST GENERAL & INTERMEDIATE CONTRATOR
LIABILITY FOR PAYMENT OF OKLAHOMA WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BENEFITS OF THOSE OTHER THAN THE INJURED EMPLOYEE’S DIRECT EMPLOYER–i.e. GENERAL CONTRACTORS, SUBCONTRACTORS & IMMEDIATE CONTRACTORS or ‘STATUTORY EMPLOYERS’: In Oklahoma a principal employer can be liable in certain circumstances for workers compensation due to not only his or her direct employees but also the employees of his or her independent contractors, subcontractors or any other employees engaged in the general employer’s business. The liability of any person, firm, corporation, employer & contracting employers, both general or intermediate, for workmans compensation benefits under the Oklahoma Workmans Comp Act, when other than the immediate employer of the injured employee, is as follows: Any independent contractor or principle employer will, at all times, be liable for any workmens compensation benefits due to all his or her direct employees, as well as the employees of any subcontractor of such independent contractor, or other employees engaged the general or intermediate employer’s business. Any injured worker entitled to workmens comp benefits in this manner has the right to recover these benefits directly against and from his or her immediate employer as well as any independent contractor or immediate contractor of the direct employer, and these claims can be presented by the injured worker &/or his or her attorney or lawyer against all the aforementioned parties in one proceeding brought before either the Oklahoma City or Tulsa Workers’ Compensation Court.
NOTE: In any proceeding where compensation is awarded against the principal employer under the provisions hereof, such award shall not preclude the principal employer from recovering the same, and all expense in connection with said proceeding from any independent contractor, intermediate contractor or subcontractor whose duty it was to provide security for the payment of such compensation, and such recovery may be had by supplemental proceedings in the cause before the Court or by an independent action in any court of competent jurisdiction to enforce liability of contracts.
CONTRACTOR ‘GOOD FAITH’ RELIANCE UPON PROOF OF COMP COVERAGE
If an independent or general contractor relies in “good faith” upon either proof of: (1) a valid workers’ comp insurance policy purportedly issued to a subcontractor of the independent contractor; or (2) an affidavit of exempt status under the work comp act properly executed by the subcontractor– then the independent contractor will not be liable for injuries of any employees of the subcontractor. In sum–if it appears in any claim or proceeding brought by an injured worker &/or his lawyer or attorney before either the Oklahoma City or Tulsa Workmans Compensation Court that the principal employer has failed to require a compliance with the Oklahoma Workmans Comp Act, by the independent contractor, then hurt employee can proceed against the principal employer without regard to liability of any independent, intermediate or other contractor. Provided, however, if a principal employer relies in good faith on proof of a valid workmens compensation insurance policy issued to an independent contractor of the employer or to a subcontractor of the independent contractor or on proof of an Affidavit of Excempt Status under the Oklahoma Workmens Comp Act properly executed by the independent contractor or subcontractor under Oklahoma law, then the principal employer will not be liable for injuries of any employees of the independent contractor or subcontractor.
NOTE: Such principal employer shall not be liable for injuries of any independent contractor of the employer or of any subcontractor of the independent contractor unless an employer-employee relationship is found to exist by the Workers’ Compensation Court despite the execution of an Affidavit of Exempt Status under the Workers’ Compensation Act.