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Overcoming Owner Controlled Insurance Programs and the Exclusive Remedy Defense After the Texas Supreme Court’s Holding in Tic Energy and Chemical, Inc. v. Martin

On June 3, 2016, the Texas Supreme Court issued its opinion in Tic Energy and Chemical, Inc. v. Martin, overturning a Corpus Christi Court of Appeals’ decision that recognized an apparent conflict within the Texas Labor Code that seemingly eliminated the exclusive-remedy defense for non-employer subcontractors with coverage under an Owner Controlled Insurance Program (OCIP) under certain circumstances. In doing so, the Texas Supreme Court held that there is no exception to the exclusive remedy defense when a non-employer subcontractor covered by an OCIP policy operates as an independent contractor, even when the subcontractor has entered into a written agreement with the general contractor that assumes the responsibilities of an employer for the work performed.

The Texas Supreme Court’s opinion further reduces injured worker’s rights when seeking redress from the courts and will operate to prevent many injured workers from obtaining full compensation for their injuries. However, the Texas Supreme Court’s opinion does not foreclose all arguments designed to avoid the OCIP exclusive-remedy defense. Experienced personal injury lawyers will carefully examine OCIP policies and investigate exactly which third-party subcontractors are responsible for the condition causing injury to the worker. If the general contractor and subcontractors fail to include the specific company responsible for the dangerous condition within the OCIP policy, then there may be arguments to avoid the exclusive remedy defense. The liability of each sister, parent, and subsidiary company of a suspected wrongdoer should be considered and compared with the applicable OCIP policy to determine whether one of those companies should be joined to the lawsuit for their own fault.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured while at work and have been told that you cannot sue due to an OCIP policy, contact the experienced lawyers at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner today for a free consultation by calling 713-396-3964 or toll free at 800-594-4884.

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