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Section 4 of the Oklahoma Workmen's Compensation Act, which grants the election to claim extraterritorial benefits, specifically provides that such right of election shall not preclude an injured employee from pursuing his remedy under the laws of the state where the injury occurred. Having accorded this right of election, the court should not presume that Oklahoma would close the doors of its courts to the assertion of the remedy, even though it would have been unavailable if the injury had occurred in the State. There being nothing in the public policy of the State of Oklahoma to forbid a remedy, the Oklahoma courts will enforce the right in accordance with the prevailing forms of practice and procedure.
The employee was working in Turkey when he was injured. The employee alleged that his injuries were caused by the employer's negligence and that his right to recover had to be determined by the laws of Turkey. The employer argued that any right of action was exclusively cognizable under either the workmen's compensation law of Turkey, or Oklahoma, and in either event, the employer was exclusively liable for workmen's compensation benefits and that the court was without jurisdiction. The trial court found in favor of the employee. The employer sought review of the decision.
May the employee maintain the present suit under and by virtue of the law of Turkey?
The court affirmed, holding that it could be presumed that Turkey recognized the legal duty of one to exercise due care not to injure another. According to the court, § 4 of the Oklahoma Workmen's Compensation Act, which granted the election to claim extraterritorial benefits, specifically provided that such right of election did not preclude an injured employee from pursuing his remedy under the laws of the state where the injury occurred, and having accorded the right of election, the doors of the courts should not be closed to the assertion of the remedy, even though it would have been unavailable if the injury had occurred in the state.