Articles Tagged with work injury

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collection-of-construction-safety-helmet-38070-300x197The Supreme Court of Texas recently issued an opinion in a case involving a property owner’s liability for injuries an employee contractor sustained while working on the property. The case arose when the two construction workers suffered injuries while working on a condominium project owned by the defendant. The defendant hired an individual instead of a general contractor to manage the project. A high-voltage power line hung behind the property, and the defendants told the project manager about the line because it was “too close” to the building. The project manager advised the plaintiffs to begin the project even though the power line was still intact. While working on the project, electricity shot down the rebar, and the power line snapped, causing the workers to suffer burns and other serious injuries.

The workers filed a negligence lawsuit against the power company and the defendants. The trial court entered a judgment per a jury finding that the property owner was liable under ordinary-negligence and premises-liability theories.

The defendant appealed, arguing that the employee’s evidence was not legally sufficient under Chapter 95. In response, the plaintiffs argued that the Chapter does not apply, the defendant waived some arguments, and the evidence was legally sufficient. Amongst several issues, the defendant argued that they could not be held liable because the danger was open and obvious. Under Texas law, a danger is open and obvious when the invitee possesses “knowledge and full appreciation” of the hazard’s extent and nature. Typically, when the danger is open and obvious, the property owner does not maintain a duty to warn of the danger or make the premises safe. Inquiries regarding whether a danger is open and obvious are not subjective but rather what a reasonably prudent person would have known. Courts will look to the totality of the “particular circumstances.”

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collection-of-construction-safety-helmet-38070-300x197Recently, the Supreme Court of Texas issued a decision in a lawsuit stemming from injuries an employee suffered at his workplace. The case arose when a general contractor subcontracted with the defendant to drill a foundation for a commercial construction project. The plaintiff was working as a lead superintendent for the project. On the day of the incident, the subcontractor’s crew began working on a new piling without sufficient grout, contrary to the company’s policy. The defendant’s foreman told the crane operator to rock the auger back and forth to free it from the solidifying grout. After several minutes the foreman told the operator to stop, as it posed a danger. However, the subcontractor’s superintendent overrode the foreman’s instructions and told him to continue. Despite concern that the situation was becoming increasingly dangerous, the subcontractor demanded that the operator continue. As a result, some of the crane’s rollers came off and crushed the plaintiff’s legs, ultimately requiring amputation of his legs.

The plaintiff received workers’ compensation and subsequently filed a lawsuit against the subcontractor for negligence and gross negligence, arguing that the subcontractor waived its exclusive remedy defense. Later the plaintiff amended his complaint, contending that the subcontractor intentionally injured the plaintiff.

In Texas, the Workers’ Compensation Act, (the Act) is the exclusive remedy for eligible employees who seek compensation for work-related injuries. This provision provides medical and disability benefits without considering the fault of either the employer or employee. The Act does not allow lawsuits for an employer’s grossly negligent behavior unless the conduct results in a fatal injury. However, an exception to the bar on lawsuits exists when an employer commits an intentional tort. In order to satisfy the exception, the plaintiff must establish that the employer “believed that its actions are substantially certain to result” in a specific injury to a specific employee, not “merely highly likely to increase the overall risks to employees in the workplace.”

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adult-alone-anxious-black-and-white-568027-300x200Recently, 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.

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Recently, the Supreme Court of Texas issued its opinion in a workers’ compensation appeal, addressing whether a sheriff who died in his patrol car was entitled to benefits. The deputy’s widow filed the lawsuit after her husband died when a wheel from another car came loose and smashed through the man’s patrol car windshield.

The deputy’s wife presented evidence that at the time of his death, the man was a sergeant with the El Paso Sheriff’s Department. On the night of the accident, the man was working an extra-duty assignment for the University of Texas. The sheriff’s employment policy defines this type of work as “secondary employment, which the employee may use actual law enforcement powers”. Generally, the department does not allow employees to use their patrol cars for off-duty work; however, they may be used for extra-duty work with approval. After the man’s death, his wife filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, which the county denied. The county argued that the man was not within the course and scope of his employment at the time of the collision.

Under Texas law, courts have held that questions regarding whether an officer is off duty does not necessarily determine whether their behavior was within the scope of their employment. It is especially nebulous because peace officers are always officers, even while they are off-duty. Plaintiffs in these cases must meet two main criteria to establish that their activity was within the “course and scope of employment”, the activity must:

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Every year, significant numbers of Texas workers suffer injuries and illnesses related to their employment. These injuries and illnesses range from relatively minor slip and fall incidents to serious life-threatening and debilitating accidents. In some circumstances, Texas workers who suffer injuries at work may be able to recover for their damages. The two primary ways a Texas worker can recover for their injuries is through workers’ compensation or a personal injury lawsuit against their employer.

Workers’ compensation is a government insurance program that provides medical benefits and lost wages to workers who suffer injuries on the job. Unlike most other states, Texas employers can choose whether they want to purchase this insurance. Even though coverage is not mandatory, Texas employers must notify all of their employees and the state if they choose not to provide coverage.

Work-related injuries can have long-lasting and potentially deadly consequences. For example, recently, a news source reported on the death of a third worker at a Texas energy well. The workers were at an oil well site near Austin, when a high-pressure release caused a fiery explosion. The victims were medevaced to hospitals where they succumbed to their injuries. The mother of one of the victims filed a case against the energy company and requested that the court order them to preserve the scene and any relevant evidence. Additionally, she asked the judge to issue an order that would allow her attorneys and family access to the site for an investigation.

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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2020/03/Screen-Shot-2020-03-16-at-11.44.11-AM.pngWednesday, March 11, 2020: ABILENE, TX – A fatal crash in Abilene left one person dead and three seriously injured. According to DPS, the crash occurred after a construction truck disregarded a stop sign and t-boned a small Ford on the passenger side that was traveling west on FM 3034. According to KTXS, DPS troopers responded to a crash on US 83 and FM 3034 near the Abilene Landfill in Jones County on Wednesday afternoon just before 5:30 p.m.

Troopers found 18-year-old Diego Hernandez dead at the scene. The three passengers in the back seat had to be extradited using the jaws of life. 

One of the passengers was a one-year-old infant who was seriously injured. The infant was flown to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth. An off-duty trooper who arrived first to the scene administered CPR to the baby. Investigators stated the infant was not properly restrained. Abilene Police and Firefighters were also at the scene.

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