Blog

Injustice-This Law Needs to Change

Texas law does not allow a person to recover if she is killed on the job, even when her employer knows she will be killed.

If an employer has worker's compensation insurance and an employee suffers an injury on the job, then the employee's medical bills and salary is paid by worker's compensation insurance. In return, the employee cannot sue the employer for causing the employee's injuries.

However, there is one exception-if an employee dies as a result of the gross negligence of her employer, then the employee's wife and children can sue the employer. In other words, the employee's wife and children have the legal right to sue the employer only if the employer was grossly negligent in causing the employee's death. To prove gross negligence, the employee must satisfy a two prong test. First, the employee must show that the act or omission, when viewed objectively by the employer, involved an extreme degree of risk and the probability of potential harm to others. Under the second prong, the employee must establish that the employer had actual, subjective awareness of that risk, but proceeded anyway with conscious indifference to the rights, safety, or welfare of others-the employer knew of the danger and didn't care.

But there is another Texas law that trumps the above exception. This horrible law states that the employee cannot recover for gross negligence against the employer if the death arises from a criminal act performed by another. For instance, the employee cannot sue the employer for gross negligence when her death was caused by a shooting, stabbing, etc.

As reported in the news every day, deaths occur at many stores, convenience stores, restaurants, etc during business hours. On occasions, someone enters the stores and robs the store and kills the employee. On other occasions, an employee is being threatened by someone until she is killed. The above Texas law does not allow these employees to sue their employers even when the employers know the employees will be killed.

The Firm recently reviewed a case where our hands were tied. An employee named "Jane" was being harassed and threatened by "Joe"-he was not an employee. For six months, Joe constantly called the store that Jane worked at and stated he would kill Jane. Joe called Jane's co-workers and stated he would kill Jane. The co-workers reported this to Jane's supervisors. Joe would show up at the store and watch Jane for hours. Jane's employer knew of this too. Jane obtained a restraining order as the threats continued daily. Joe violated the restraining order and would show up at the store and would say he was going to kill Jane. Jane's employer knew of this too. Jane pleaded with her employer to be moved to another store or provide security at the store. The employer did not help. One day, Joe proceeded to purposely crash his vehicle into one of Jane's co-worker's vehicle. The employer still did not do anything. Finally, Joe did what he said he would do along-Joe killed Jane. Joe entered the store. Jane quickly called her mom and screamed for help. Joe then grabbed Jane and stabbed her numerous times. Jane's mom heard the entire ordeal; mom actually heard her daughter being killed. After the police arrived, Joe killed himself.

The Firm spoke with Jane's family and we researched Texas law. Sadly, Jane's family could not recover for Jane's death.

The employer had worker's compensation insurance. The employer was grossly negligent because it knew for six months that Jane would be killed but it did nothing-it knew of the danger but it did not care. However, Jane's death was caused by Joe's criminal act. Because her death was caused by a criminal act, Jane's family could not sue her employer for its gross negligence.

This is injustice.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Awards & Recognition

  • 2016-2017 Equal Access to Justice Champion

    The Equal Access to Justice Champions Program was started by the Houston Bar Association in 2006, to help ensure placement of Houston Volunteer Lawyers cases with pro bono volunteers. Originally, firms were tiered according to size, and firms within each tier committed to accept a certain number of pro bono cases from HVL each year for five years.

  • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers

    The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state or region who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase objective and uniformly applied process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research.

  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum

    Established in 1993, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum (which includes the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum) is one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States. Membership is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. There are over 4000 members throughout the country. Fewer than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members.

  • Recognized by Best Lawyers America | Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz | 2017

    Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Their methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

  • Lead Counsel Rated

    In order to earn the Lead Counsel Rating, an attorney must not only demonstrate significant legal experience, but must also receive multiple peer recommendations advocating his or her ability. This is a key component in the screening process.

  • Texas Super Lawyers | Texas Monthly

    Each year, Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in Texas via a patented multiphase selection process involving peer nomination, independent research and peer evaluation. The Texas lawyers who receive the highest point totals during this selection process are further recognized in Texas Super Lawyers Top Lists.

Get Your Free Case Review 713.587.9668

Let Us Help You Today! Request a Free Consultation

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented nearly 100 victims who suffered personal injuries and damages to property from a large fire and explosion resulting in a settlement of more than $50 million. The firm served as lead lawyers on the steering committee in this litigation.

  • $80 Million Personal Injury Large Plant Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 270 plaintiffs', taking a lead role in the plaintiffs' steering committee, who suffered injuries in a large plant explosion resulting in a settlement of nearly $80 million.

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Plant Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 45 personal injury victims in a plant fire and explosion, serving on the plaintiffs' steering committee, concluding with a settlement of more than $50 million.

  • $22+ Million Personal Injury Work Site Accident

    The firm prevailed in a personal injury trial for a worksite injury client with the jury returning a verdict and resulting in a judgment of over $22 million for the firm's client.

  • $12 Million Auto Accident 18-Wheeler Collision

    The firm successfully achieved a $12 million settlement for the family of a man who died in an 18 wheeler collision.

  • $30 Million Personal Injury Burn Victims

    The firm prevailed on behalf of three burn victims with settlements totaling nearly $30 million.

Our Record Of Success.

When you are hurt and you choose a law firm to represent you in court or at the negotiation table, you need to carefully consider the firm's record.

More Success Stories