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Legalease
Legalease, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 14571
Experience:  15 years exp all aspects of general law
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I was in ODOC custody and injured my right arm. the injury

Customer Question

I was in ODOC custody and injured my right arm. the injury has caused my right ring finger and pinky to be numb for 1-1/2 yrs. i went to 2 dr.s while in ODOC they both said it was tennis elbow. later while at a halfway house in ODOC i got a job and took out medical insurance. when i went to a hand specialist he took 1 look at my hand and told me i had extensive nerve damage and needed to get it taken care of. thats the problem because i cannot afford to take off work, unless i can be assured that i will be taken care of. i already have muscle deteration in my hand. do i have a chance of doing anything about this
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Legalease replied 1 year ago.

Hello there -

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I am sure you are aware that cases against the state and particularly the Dept of Corrections are very difficult to bring and prove against the facility or particular party that was involved with your injury.

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Can you tell me how the injury occurred and do you think there may be any reports of it in their records that show you were not at any fault?

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Regarding the doctors who treated you there at ODOC -- are you asking if you have any recourse against them for not treating this properly while you were in custody?

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MARY

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I hurt it while working for ODOC & their PWPP work program. I fell while loading some guard rails for the ODOT.


yes there are medical request forms that inmates fill out and submit to staff and they make appointments for us. on my forms i also stated clearly of the numbness in my fingers. I may have a copy of those medical request forms myself.


I am wanting ODOC to pay for the surgery and All dr bills and compensation for the pain i have suffered. i wouldnt have the severe muscle damage in hand if it wouldve been treated right.

Expert:  Legalease replied 1 year ago.

Hello again Wesley -

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Please bear with me while I perform a bit of research for you on this question. I should be posting an answer for you in about 20 minutes or so -- you can wait or you can go offline and you will receive an email when the answer is posted.

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MARY

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--

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

ok thank u


 

Expert:  Legalease replied 1 year ago.

Hello again Wesley -

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I wish I could give you a different answer here (and that is why I researched this question for you -- because I wanted to be sure of exactly how Oklahoma is treating injuries to inmates who are in custody performing work) -- but Oklahoma is one of a handful of states that still adheres to the strict legal doctrine of Sovereign Immunity when it comes to injuries suffered by inmates working at various positions while in the custody of ODOC. Sovereign Immunity means that the state cannot be sued unless it permits itself to be sued (there are some instances where the state makes exceptions to this in the statutes -- such as for those persons who are not in custody or employed by the ODOC -- regular civilians can sue under the OK Sovereign Immunity Statute). I was looking to find the latest law on this subject for you and came across Horton v. State which is the Oklahoma Supreme Court reviewing a case where an inmate on a work detail sued the state -- and the OSC reviewed the OK state Soveriegn Immunity statute (51 O.S.Supp. 1994 § 155), which reads, in part: " The State of Oklahoma does hereby adopt the doctrine of sovereign immunity. The state, its political subdivisions, and all of their employees acting within the scope of their employment, whether performing governmental or proprietary functions, shall be immune from liability for torts."

The OK Supreme Court specifically finds that law to be applicable and enforceable against the claims of an inmate or a former inmate who is injured while working in the custody of ODOC. Here is a link to that case if you want to review it (the Oklahoma Supreme Court is surprisingly clear in the legal writing of the case) -- http://law.justia.com/cases/oklahoma/supreme-court/1996/20453.html

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I was hoping that I would be able to tell you something different here because there are a number of states where the states have set up compensation programs for persons injured while working at inmate jobs and occupations (almost like a workers compensation system where a person can at least make a claim for a weekly paycheck if surgery and hospilization is needed after they are released). The federal government also has such a program for persons who were detained in federal prisons. Unfortunately, the Oklahoma law is pretty clear and not only does it cover the initial injury that you suffered but also any claims against the doctors because they are also state employees performing their duties when they are treating you. There have been cases in other states where inmates have sued the prison doctors for gross negligence and gotten around Sovereign Immunity (because the court will hold that being grossly negligent is not a part of the normal course of the duties of the doctor) -- but those are situations where the inmates have died after gross mistreatment. In your case, the doctors will probably simply claim it was an accurate diagnosis at the time -- because nerve damage is very hard to diagnose and determine exactly what it is and where it is coming from.

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Obviously, I wish I could tell you something different here -- but I can only tell you what the law provides and I hope that you will keep that in mind when you are providing a rating below this answer box. I am paid nothing unless you press a positive rating below (the 3rd, 4th or 5th smile face below) and I did do my job and provide you with a legal answer to your question -- even if the legal answer was somewhat disappointing to you (I truly did try to find something in the law to help you out here). Pressing a positive rating below will NOT cost you any additional money -- it simply acts as a trigger to Just Answer to pay me for my time.

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Please let me know if you have further questions.

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MARY

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Please press the 3rd, 4th or 5th smile face below so I will be paid for my time. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR USING JUST ANSWER !!!

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