Recently, the Texas Supreme Court barred a plaintiff’s injury claims against her late husband’s former employer based on its interpretation of the exclusive-remedy provision in the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act. This ruling has major implications for Texas workers injured on the job.
Texas’ Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) provides benefits for covered employees injured on the job. The Act does not allow covered employees to seek remedies outside of the Act, except where the employee can prove that their injury was the result of an employer’s intentional act. In order to fall under the exception, the injured employee must show that the employer (1) desired the consequences of its actions and that (2) acted with a belief that certain consequences were substantially certain to result.
This situation involved a widow who sued her late husband’s employer after he fell asleep at the wheel of his tanker truck and died when it ran off the highway. The plaintiff argued that the accident resulted from her husband being overworked and attempted to sue her husband’s employer for her husband’s pain and suffering before he died. Because the damages the plaintiff was trying to recover for were outside of the scope of the Act, she was required to show that the employer acted intentionally in causing her husband’s death. In other words, she had to show that the employer believed the accident was substantially certain to result from her husband being overworked.
After reviewing the facts, the court barred the plaintiff’s claim. The court held that although the employer’s conduct created a greater likelihood that one of its drivers would be injured on the job, the court did not believe that the conduct was intended to cause the injury that occurred. Although the employer’s actions created overall dangerous job conditions where an injury was inevitable, the fact that the potential victims were vague and the time frame was expansive made it impossible to infer that the employer’s intended the consequences that befell the Plaintiff’s husband.
The court made it clear that in order for a plaintiff to recover under the intentional act exception to the exclusive remedy rule one of two things must be true. Either the plaintiff must show a direct causal chain between the employer’s conduct and the injury that occurred, or evidence showing that the employer acted with a subjective intent to injure its employee. Such a high bar will make it difficult for any employees to recover damages for injuries outside of the Act.
Have you Been Injured on the Job?
If you or a loved one has been injured on the job you may be entitled to compensation. The attorneys at Carabin Shaw have the knowledge and skill to help you pursue a claim for the compensation you deserve. We handle all types of personal injury claims, including Texas workplace accidents, car accidents, and incidents of medical malpractice. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, contact us at 800-862-1260. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for your services unless we can successfully obtain compensation on your behalf.