Why Can’t I Always Sue My Employer for Work-Related Injuries in Texas?
Many individuals who suffer work-related injuries are surprised to learn that the workers’ compensation system does not allow them to pursue a full financial recovery for the losses they sustain as a result of their injuries. In Texas (as in other states), workers’ compensation laws are designed to strike a balance between protecting injured employees and limiting financial exposure for their employers.
The theory behind these laws is that the employer’s exposure is limited in exchange for employees receiving no-fault coverage for job-related injuries. The reality is that, in serious injury cases, workers’ rights are limited in exchange for relatively little benefit.
The “No-Fault” Workers’ Compensation System
In order to strike this balance, workers’ compensation laws establish a “no-fault” system. As an employee, you do not need to prove that your employer was negligent in order to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. However, the benefits available are limited to:
• Your medical expenses
• A portion of your lost wages (referred to as “income benefits”)
• Burial and death benefits for work-related fatalities
If you are eligible for workers’ compensation, applying for these benefits is (in many cases) your only option for seeking compensation from your employer for your losses. This is why you can’t always sue your employer for work-related injuries in Texas.
Remedies in Addition to (or Instead of) Workers’ Compensation
Fortunately, for many people, workers’ compensation is not the only source of financial recovery for job-related losses. Depending on where you work, what you do, what happened and what caused the accident, other options may include:
• Employers Who Do Not Participate in Workers’ Compensation – Many companies choose not to participate in workers’ compensation. As our Houston work injury lawyers discuss here, this includes numerous large companies with offices and stores in Houston and other major cities throughout Texas. If your employer is not insured for benefits, our lawyers can help you file suit just like for any other personal injury claim.
• Gross Negligence and Intentional Misconduct Resulting in Death – Even if an employer is insured for workers’ compensation, if a worker is killed as a result of the employer’s gross negligence or intentional conduct, his or her family members can still file claims for punitive damages.
• Federal Laws Protecting Maritime and Railroad Workers – Laws such as the Jones Act, the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, and the Federal Employers Liability Act provide additional protections for maritime and railroad employees above and beyond the benefits available through workers’ compensation.
• Third-Party Claims – Often, job-related injuries have causes other than an employer’s negligence or misconduct. For example, maybe a contractor or subcontractor is to blame, or maybe a defect in a tool or piece of machinery is responsible for your injuries. Workers’ compensation laws limit claims against employers, but not against other parties.
Speak With an Attorney at Morrow & Sheppard LLP About Your Case
If you have been injured on the job, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation. Our Houston injury lawyers will thoroughly evaluate your case and identify all possible sources of financial compensation. To speak with an attorney about your case, call our Houston law offices at (800) 489-2216 or contact us online today.