There are three type of work injury cases: (1) in Texas only, an injured employee suing non-subscriber employer, these are called “Non-Subscriber” cases; (2) an injured employee suing a company or person who is not their employer, these are called “Third Party” cases; and (3) in all states, an injured employee making a claim against the employer who is covered by workers’ compensation, these are called “Workers’ Compensation” cases.
When our firm receives a call for a work injury, the first thing we do is determine which of the three case types applies. Some injuries can be two of the case types. If the injured client’s employer is potentially at fault, we figure out if they have workers’ compensation insurance.
We determine whether the client’s employer actually has workers’ compensation insurance by verifying coverage through the Texas Department of Insurance. Workers’ compensation insurance is not mandatory in Texas, and whether an employer actually has workers’ compensation insurance dramatically affects an injured worker’s rights. Basically if an employer carries true workers’ compensation insruance, they are immune from claims, and if they don’t have true workers’ compensation insurance, the injured employee may have a very valuable claim. Even if the employer does carry work comp insurance, the injured employee may still have a valuable claim against any third party who may have contributed to causing the injury.
Often times employees are misled or mistaken about whether their employer actually is a “subscriber” to worker’s compensation insurance. Some employers are self-insured, or might carry some other type of work injury compensation insurance that’s not workers’ compensation.
Do not assume or trust others when they say that your employer has workers’ compensation. Our firm has had numerous cases where the client thought that their employer had workers’ compensation coverage, and, therefore, they thought that they had no remedy in a courtroom, but as it turns out, the employer did not have work comp, allowing us to make a recovery for the client. Many people are also surprised to learn about how many large corporations do not carry workers’ compensation insurance, including the following list of the largest non-subscribers in Texas:
- United Supermarkets
- Dynamic Foods
- Home Depot
- Best Buy
Employees at these large corporations are free and able to sue their employer if they’re injured at work.
In Texas, if the injured worker’s employer does not have—or “subscribe” to—valid workers’ compensation insurance in a Texas case, that is known as a “non-subscriber” case. In non-subscriber cases “contributory negligence” is not a defense. So even if the injured employee caused their own injury, the employer may still be liable for things like bad training, poor safety, and poor or inadequate safety policies.
If the injured worker is successful in their case, the employer must pay the injured worker’s damages, including medical bills, lost wages, physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, and more.
Our firm has handled hundreds of these non-subscriber cases and collected hundreds of millions of dollars for clients. If you’ve been injured at work, and your employer might be at fault, learn more about non-subscriber cases.
Every case is different, and our ability to help the client make a recovery depends on many facts, including whether the employer has sufficient assets or other insurance to pay the damages. We would be glad to evaluate your claim—just call us.
Workers’ Compensation “Third Party” Cases
If the employer in Texas has workers’ compensation insurance, they are referred to in the law as a “subscriber”. If an employer is a subscriber, that employer has immunity from claims by the injured worker, which means that the injured worker cannot make any claims against the employer for their injuries, and may only make claims against third parties who may have contributed to causing the injury.
For example, if a client was working on a construction site for a plumbing contractor who carries worker’s compensation, and got hurt on the job by somebody working for a different company, say an electrical sub-contractor, then we could make claims against that third party. Or, if a defective product, such as a valve caused the injury, we could go after the manufacturer or distributor of the defective product. These types of claims are known as “third-party” claims because they involve somebody other than the injured party and their employer.
Other examples of third party claims would be if someone is driving for work and is hit by another vehicle; a claim can be made against the driver who caused the crash. Likewise, if a person is working for a drilling company on an oilfield site and is injured, the drilling company—if they have workers’ compensation coverage—cannot be liable, but if the production company or some other company, such as a casing crew, was on scene and contributed to causing the accident, then a claim can be made against those responsible parties.
Third party claims can be very good cases, and our firm has handled hundreds of such cases and recovered millions in dollars for clients in third party claims. Every case is different, and we would be glad to evaluate your case—just give us a call.
If the employer in Texas has been verified as a “subscriber” and there is no “third party” claim, then the injured employee cannot handle their claim in court; they must handle their claim through the Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission.
The Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission can assign an ombudsman to the case to represent the interest of the claimant in cases where the employer fails to timely file a notice of claim or in other situations where the injured worker is not receiving the benefits that they are entitled to under the law. Unfortunately, due to changes in the law in the past two decades, there are few attorneys in Texas who handle true workers’ compensation cases, and our law firm not longer handles true workers’ compensation claims. For more information about workers’ compensation, and what to do if you have a complaint, then please follow this link to the Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission website, which has some helpful information click here.
Gross Negligence Death Cases under Workers’ Compensation
In Texas, if an employer is a subscriber, then, generally speaking, the injured worker may not make a claim against the employer. There is an exception, however, in cases that result in death, and where the employer is guilty of gross negligence. Gross negligence is defined in Texas law as “an act or omission: (A) which when viewed objectively from the standpoint of the actor at the time of its occurrence involves an extreme degree of risk, considering the probability and magnitude of the potential harm to others; and (B) of which the actor has actual, subjective awareness of the risk involved, but nevertheless proceeds with conscious indifference to the rights, safety, or welfare of others.” The recovery in such cases is limited to punitive damages only.
Each case involving a work injury death is different. Our firm has handled many wrongful death claims for families who have lost loved ones at work. We would be glad to evaluate your case for you—just give us a call.