Dangerous animal species ranging from poisonous snakes and spiders to rabid bats can be found in Oklahoma, and they can sometimes present a danger to workers. Workplace injuries associated with the state’s fauna run the gamut from minor insect or snake bites to serious accidents involving larger animals such as cattle or horses.
Some occupations such as ranch work carry a higher risk of workplace injuries caused by animals. Workers performing the kind of job that regularly exposes them to animals are likely to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if this exposure results in an injury or illness. This is because their injury or illness was the result of a foreseeable risk. This has led to worker’s compensation benefits being paid in cases where workers were diagnosed with conditions including Lyme disease and anaphylactic shock.
However, workers with jobs that would not normally bring them into contact with animals may also qualify for workers’ compensation benefits for an animal-related injury or illness. In these cases, the conditions of the workplace will often be the deciding factor. Employers are expected to take adequate steps to deal with infestations of insects or other pests, and it may be considered reasonable to expect injuries when they fail to do so. Employers are also expected to provide adequate training to workers exposed to these risks and have appropriate medical supplies available.
The rules regarding animal-related injuries are complicated and not necessarily uniform. The workers’ compensation system is designed to help injured workers to cope financially while they recover, but qualification for benefits involves meeting strict deadlines and providing all necessary documentation. An attorney with experience in this area of the law could assist injured workers during the claims process to help ensure that they receive all of the benefits available to them. An attorney could also advocate on behalf of injured workers when their claims are contested by their employer.