State Rep. Mike Christian has been awarded $61,560 in workers' compensation benefits for permanent injuries suffered in a traffic accident driving to the state Capitol in 2009.
An appeal is expected.
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.
Judge Bob Lake Grove agreed with Christian that his injuries arose “out of and in the course of claimant's employment.”
The judge ruled Christian is entitled to $342 per week for 180 weeks after the accident — a total of $61,560.
The judge ruled Christian has an 18 percent permanent partial disability to his cervical spine from the accident and an 18 percent permanent partial disability to his lumbar spine from the accident.
The judge ruled the legislator's attorney, Richard Bell, of Norman, will get $12,312. The attorney fees are to be deducted from Christian's total award.
“It was kind of quick,” Christian, 42, testified at a hearing last week about striking the truck three miles south of the state Capitol.
He said the truck driver made an illegal U-turn in front of him. “I was kind of knocked goofy,” he said.
Christian testified he was driving from his district to the Capitol to present a bill to a House transportation committee.
The award — if it stands up on appeal — will be paid by CompSource Oklahoma, which provides workers' compensation insurance to the state House of Representatives.
CompSource Oklahoma had contended Christian was not on the job at the time of the accident and should get nothing.
Exceptions in the law
Most employees can't get benefits in workers' compensation court for injuries suffered commuting to or from work. There are exceptions in the law.
Key to the judge's decision was the exception that allows benefits for coming and going to work when the employer pays travel expenses.