If you are hurt at work, you may be wondering, “can I sue my employer?” The answer is that it depends on the circumstances of your unique situation. There are a variety of factors to consider in determining whether an employee can sue an employer for an occupational injury, including workers’ compensation (or lack thereof) and any potential exceptions to the workers’ comp bar.
Texas is home to millions of workers, and many members of our state’s workforce will get injured on the job during the course of their employable lifetime. In almost every other state if a worker is injured on the job, their method of financial compensation from their employer comes solely via the workers’ compensation system; however, Texas is different.
In Texas, an employer is not required to subscribe to the state’s workers’ compensation system or to even provide private workers’ compensation insurance. In these instances, the employer would be called a non-subscriber – since it does not subscribe to workers’ comp coverage. While the employer may think it’s saving itself money by not purchasing this insurance, it opens itself up to direct personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits by its employees.
Texas Workplace Injury Claims
In most cases, an employee cannot sue an employer after a workplace injury and is limited to the remedies available under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act. However, if you are injured at work in Texas and your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, you can:
- File a personal injury lawsuit against your employer directly within two years of the date of the on-the-job incident that caused your injuries.
- File a claim against your employer’s insurance provider, should it have other insurance policies available.
- Sue your employer if you were injured by a defective product, toxic substance, or other exception to the workers’ compensation coverage bar to litigation.
- Sue your employer if they intentionally caused your injury or were grossly negligent.
- Sue your employer if your cause of action against your employer falls under federal law like the Jones Act, Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, or FELA.
- Sue a responsible third party.
Obtaining Financial Compensation from Additional Responsible Parties
While most people first think of suing an employer for a workplace injury, there are often multiple parties responsible for the incident at issue. Not everyone working on a job site works for the same employer; various third parties are present depending on the work being done, including contractors, subcontractors, and/or employees of other third-party companies. Texas Labor Code Section 417.001 allows injured workers to sue responsible third parties for occupational injuries. If you can show that a third party who is not your employer caused your workplace injury, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against that company or individual to recover financial damages in full and not just rely on the partial payments that would be available under the workers’ compensation system.
But, how can you determine whether your injury was caused by a third party or by someone else who works for your same employer? This can be an extremely complicated process and you will be recovering from serious injuries at the exact time you need to figure out the answer to this question. This is where the counsel of an experienced workplace accident attorney can be extremely helpful. Lawyers like ours who routinely handle cases involving on-the-job accidents know how to investigate complex claims involving multiple parties and figure out which parties can potentially be held legally responsible for your injuries and how to hold them responsible. As experienced work injury lawyers, we use every tool available to get you the most financial compensation possible so that you can focus on your recovery, knowing your best interests are being cared for by your lawyers.
Gross Negligence and Workplace Death
An employee’s surviving relatives as defined by Texas law can pursue a claim against an employer for a workplace death caused by the employer’s gross negligence. Gross negligence is different than negligence – it means that the employer has done something they know or should have known was extremely dangerous but did it anyway without regard for the safety of its employees. In order to recover damages for gross negligence, the plaintiffs must prove their claim with clear and convincing evidence, a higher threshold than what is used to prove simple negligence. When employers know about a problem and don’t fix it despite the risks, that can be gross negligence. If your spouse or another close loved one was killed on the job in Texas because of their employer’s gross negligence, you should hire a lawyer to investigate the situation as soon as possible – certainly before the employer has a chance to get rid of evidence that could support your case.
Many industries carry the potential for workplace accidents, but some industries are more dangerous than others and certain jobs are full of multiple parties working on the same job site – like construction work. The experienced bilingual work injury attorneys of Adame Garza LLP can help you determine if you can sue your employer after a workplace incident. Our attorneys have successfully handled claims against third parties and employers when Texas workers are hurt or killed on the job.
The lawyers of Adame Garza LLP are proud to represent both English and Spanish-speaking clients through every step of the legal process. While treating our clients with compassion and paying close attention to their needs, our trial attorneys aggressively fight for your rights against the individuals and companies that hurt you and your loved ones.