The Texas Workers’ Compensation Act allows employers to subscribe to a workers’ compensation insurance program. This insurance allows employees of subscribers to recover for injuries without establishing the employer’s fault and without regard to the employee’s negligence. Subscribed Texas employers, in return for subscribing to the Act, cannot be sued by their employers in most circumstances.
The Act allows Texas employers to decide whether to buy workers’ compensation insurance or to move forward as what is commonly referred to as “non-subscribers.” Non-subscriber Texas employers are able to implement an alternate benefit program to cover for injured employees but are not required to do so. However, the Texas Labor Code imposes a penalty on non-subscribers to encourage employers to buy workers’ compensation insurance. The penalty for a non-subscriber under the Texas Labor Code includes losing the common law defenses of contributory negligence, assumption of risk, and the fellow-servant negligence defense.
Texas case law establishes that all employers in Texas, including subscribers and non-subscribers, owe certain non-delegable duties to their employees. These duties include: 1) the duty to use ordinary care in providing a safe place to work; 2) the duty to provide adequate help under the circumstances for the performance of the required work, 3) the duty to furnish safe and suitable appliances, 4) the duty to use ordinary care in selecting competent fellow servants, and 5) the duty to establish and enforce safety rules.
Texas employers may not owe a duty to an employee if there is evidence that the employee already appreciated the dangers of a specific activity before the injury, there is evidence that the employee previously performed the task without injury, and there is no evidence that the activity was unusually dangerous. More importantly, the Texas Labor Code’s waiver of a non-subscriber’s common-law defenses does not eliminate the employee’s burden to prove that a duty was owed by the employer as an element of a premises liability claim, but the employee’s assertion of a premises claim by itself does not preclude the employee from also asserting other claims.
If you or a loved one has been injured while performing work for a non-subscriber, call Abraham Watkins today. It is imperative that you find a law firm to manage your claim as soon as possible following an incident of this nature. Further, it is important to find a skilled law firm with experience handling these cases to ensure that companies are held fully accountable.
The law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner is the long-standing personal injury firm in Texas, and our attorneys are standing by to assist with your claim. Call us today at 713-222-7211 or 1-888-261-8831 for your free consultation.