When our firm receives a call for a work-related injury in Texas, the first thing we do is determine whether the client’s employer 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 does actually have workers’ compensation insurance dramatically affects an injured worker’s rights. Often times employees are misled or mistaken about this whether actually is a “subscriber” to worker’s compensation insurance, because some employers are self-insured, or might carry some other type of disability insurance that’s not workers’ compensation. That is why our first step in evaluation a work injury claim is to verify workers’ compensation coverage from the Workers’ Compensation Commission.
The most important advice our firm can give to those who have been injured while working is this: 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 Wal-Mart, Target, United Supermarkets, and Dynamic Foods. Employees at these large corporations are free and able to sue their employer if they’re injured at work.
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 those cases, if the employer or co-workers did anything careless that caused the injury, then the employer is liable for the injured worker’s damages, including medical bills, lost wages, physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, and more. Our firm had handled hundreds of these non-subscriber cases and collected millions of dollars for clients. 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 must handle their claim through the Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Due to changes in the law in the past two decades, there are few attorneys in Texas who handle true work compensation cases. The Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission can assign an ombudsman to the case to represent the interest of claimants in cases where employers fail 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. 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.