Oklahoma legislator seeks more in workers’ compensation benefits

Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian appealed after being awarded $61,560.
BY NOLAN CLAY Modified: August 25, 2012 at 10:23 am •  Published: August 25, 2012

A state legislator who was awarded $61,560 in workers’ compensation benefits is appealing on grounds it is not enough for the injuries he suffered in a 2009 traffic accident.

State Rep. Mike Christian is asking a three-judge panel at the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Court to redetermine the issue of his injuries and disability.

His attorney, Richard Bell, wants the panel to issue a new order “to adequately compensate” Christian.

The state House of Representatives and its insurance carrier also appealed. They want the panel to throw out the $61,560 award.

A further appeal, ultimately to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, is likely after the three-judge panel rules.

Christian, R-Oklahoma City, struck a truck while driving in a personal car with his wife to the Capitol on the morning of Feb. 26, 2009. He said he hurt his neck and back. The other driver fled and never was found.

In July, Judge Bob Lake Grove agreed with Christian that his injuries arose “out of and in the course of claimant’s employment.” In their appeal, the state House and its insurance carrier argued that finding “is contrary to law and against the clear weight of the evidence.”

The judge ruled Christian has an 18 percent permanent partial disability to his neck from the accident and an 18 percent permanent partial disability to his lower back from the accident. Christian’s attorney specifically criticized as too low the judge’s decision about the extent of the neck injury.

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