Mobile Mini, Inc. v. Dugger, No. 107952 (Okla. Civ. App. 03/11/11).
Ruling: The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals held that a truck driver was entitled to benefits for his injuries.
What it means:
In Oklahoma, a worker can prove a compensable injury occurred by either direct or circumstantial evidence, or a combination of the two.
Summary: A 62-year-old truck driver began his pickups and deliveries on a windy day. At his last stop, he strapped down a container on his trailer. He had no memory of returning to his employer's parking lot. His manager found him in the parking lot, with blood in his hair and on his shirt. There was a puddle of blood on the ground at his last stop. There was no evidence of a collision, and no witnesses saw the incident. The driver was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome and a cervical strain. The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals held that he was entitled to benefits.
The employer argued that the driver should not be entitled to benefits because he could not prove a specific mechanism of his injury, and no witnesses could testify as to the physical activity he was engaged in when he was injured. The court disagreed, stating that direct evidence is not required to find a compensable injury. Although the driver could not remember when he injured his head, undisputed physical evidence showed that he was performing work-related duties at the time. Also, the court said a work-related risk was the major cause of his injury. The driver was injured on a workday, during work hours. He was injured at a place where he should have been while performing work-related duties. No evidence showed that he stopped working to attend to a personal mission. There was also no evidence of a personal risk factor, such as a crime intentionally inflicted on the driver by a person harboring ill will against him. There was no proof that he fabricated the claim.
The court also said there was no evidence to support the employer's theory that an idiopathic condition caused the driver's injury.
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April 25, 2011
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