Michael Grossman –
Dallas Non-Subscriber Work Injury Attorney
In our nearly 25 years of experience representing Dallas work accident victims, we’ve learned that most injured workers have a few universal concerns, including concerns about how they will pay their bills, or whether or not pursuing a claim will sour their relationship with their employer. However, the most common concern expressed by injured workers is the desire to know what they can expect as their case moves forward.
For an in-depth look at Texas fatal work accident law, please check out our Guide to Texas Fatal Work Accidents.
Step 1: Identifying the Major Components of Your Case
First and foremost, when we assess a client’s on-the-job injury case, we attempt to identify three major components:
- The set of rules that applies in your particular case (Texas has several).
- The level of liability that a particular party has.
- All of the parties who are responsible for your injuries.
Step 2: Solving Problems
The next step that we take is to identify the ways in which we can help you ; both short term and long term, including:
- Money to pay bills while your case is in progress.
- Immediate access to medical attention.
- Final lump sum payment so that you have the ability to comfortably pay all your medical bills and be financially secure in the future.
Step 3: Identifying Who May Be Liable and Determining Which Laws Apply
The most important thing that you can understand about Texas work injury law is that the benefits you are entitled to receive and the laws that apply to your case depend entirely on the type of insurance plan to which your employer subscribes. The reason for this is that employers in Dallas (and all of Texas) can insure their employees by either subscribing to the State-run workers’ compensation program (which grants you one set of rights) or by opting out, which means your rights are very different. The laws that apply and the rights you have depend on whether or not the defendant is protected by the workers’ comp coverage.
What To Expect When Filing A Claim Against An Employer
Such claims come in two forms: claims against employers who subscribe to workers’ comp and claims against employers who are non-subscribers. The type of workers’ compensation that your employer subscribes to defines the path we take with your case moving forward. Here are a few examples below that will help for you to get a better grasp on the differences between a subscriber and non-subscriber case.
Workers’ Comp Subscribers
If you are injured on the job and your employer subscribes to workers’ comp coverage, your employer is essentially liable by default. Employees who are injured while working for such an employer are entitled to compensation for their injuries so long they are acting within the scope of their employment. In other words, as long as you were not horse playing or committing a few other such offenses, you will be covered.
- What to expect – If your employer falls into this category, expect to have a claim where you get guaranteed coverage (so long as there is not a dispute regarding the validity of your claim), albeit very limited coverage. You typically only need legal representation if the employer bends the rules or you feel that you are not being treated fairly. Otherwise, the process is designed to be non-adversarial.
If you sustain a work-related injury and your employer is a non-subscriber (meaning your employer does not opt in to the official workers’ comp plan) then you can file a fairly conventional personal injury claim against your employer. Since such a claim is not based on “no fault coverage” like you find in a workers’ compensation claim, you must bring the claim by asserting a theory of negligence against the employer. In other words, you must prove that the employer’s lack of oversight, carelessness, etc. was the cause of your injuries.
- What to expect – If your employer falls into this category, then you do not receive guaranteed coverage, but you do get the benefit of being able to sue your employer for the entirety of your damages, rather than accepting a guaranteed yet significantly lesser amount like you would in a workers’ comp claim. You can expect to have to file a lawsuit to have any chance of success. You can also typically expect a much larger recovery than what you would find in a conventional WC claim.
Claims Against Property Owners
A property owner may hold potential liability in your case as well. Many jobs such as office jobs, retail jobs, construction jobs, etc., require you to perform work duties on property that is not owned by your employer. In these situations, employees may be injured as a result of something being wrong with the premises (a premises defect or hazard). An example of this would be an unsafe electrical socket which causes a secretary to suffer an electric shock injury. Sure, the secretary’s employer may bear some liability, but most reasonable people would agree that the building owner owes the secretary the duty to not cause such an injury. Additionally, if a cable repairman is working to install or repair a cable line at a junkyard and he is attacked by a junkyard dog, the repairman’s employer may bear some liability, but clearly the junkyard owner has a obligation to control his dog.
- What you can expect – These claims are standard operating procedure at our law firm (we’ve handled many such cases), but most Dallas work injury lawyers, and indeed most injured workers in Dallas, find the complicating factor of a property owner’s liability to be a bit complex. In simple terms, in breaks down like this: If your employer has workers’ comp and you are injured while on the job, but by a property-owner rather than a co-worker, then workers’ comp will initially pay for your injuries and you may hire an attorney to sue the property owner above and beyond what workers’ comp has paid. If your employer is a non-subscriber, then they may or may not pay for any of your initial injury-related expenses (since a non-subscriber is not liable by default) but you can still hire a lawyer to sue the property owner for their portion of liability.
Claims Against an Adjoining Company
In many situations, especially in construction, a general contractor will subcontract certain jobs that are required to be completed to other workers or companies. Often times, employees from the general contractor and the subcontractor or two different subcontractors are working side by side while performing different tasks.
- What you can expect – In the event that you are injured by someone working for another company, the type of coverage that the other company has to cover their employees is basically irrelevant; you can bring a negligence-based claim against them in court whether they have workers’ comp coverage or not. Since the defendant can easily attempt to point the finger of blame back at you and your employer (and since there is almost unlimited financial exposure for the defendant), the mater will be contentious and you’ll need a Dallas work accident lawyer on your side.
We’ve also litigated a number of cases where an injured worker technically worked for one company (usually a temp agency) who then places the worker with a second company to perform some task. This is known as a borrowed servant scenario. In such a scenario, the type of injured worker coverage the borrowing company has, is a factor (unlike the scenario presented in the section above) and it will limit your rights to recovery in the normal fashion as discussed in the top section above regarding claims against your employer. However, most companies that borrow workers from another company in this day in age do it specifically to avoid liability, or so they think. As such, the common scenario we encounter features a worker who is hired by a temp agency that has workers’ comp coverage, who then lends or subcontracts out the worker to a company that performs dangerous work yet does not subscribe to workers’ comp coverage.
The game they are playing here is that it is very expensive for, say, a machine shop to purchase workers’ comp coverage and get full immunity from lawsuits in doing so, so instead they will hire their employees through a temp agency, and the temp agency will be covered by workers’ comp coverage since it’s cheaper for them to do so. They think that this gives them a perfect loophole around buying expensive workers’ comp coverage, yet they still get the indirect benefit of the employee thinking that they can only bring a claim against the temp agency’s workers’ compensation plan. It’s sort of a shell game whereby the unscrupulous employer can essentially lead the employee to believe that their only recourse is a claim against the temp agency. Not true. In reality, the courts recognize this type of deception and they have created a “litmus test” by which to determine whether the borrowed servant should be treated (for the purposes of litigation) as an employee. So long as your attorney can show your employee-employer relationship. Some such ways of doing so, would be showing that you were:
- Provided with equipment.
- Provided with training.
- Told when to take breaks.
- Told when to come to work.
- If the employer exercises control over the work you perform.
Then you may be able to establish that the dangerous company is actually your employer, thereby enabling you file a work injury claim against them for your injuries.
What Should I do Immediately After a Work Accident?
The first thing you should do after suffering a work-related accident in DFW is to seek medical attention, especially if it is an emergency situation. The second thing that you should do is contact the Dallas work injury lawyers at Grossman Law Offices.
Personal injury claims against one’s employer (or another party) are serious legal cases that necessitate serious representation. While you may be the victim, the other party will try to portray you as the wrong-doer and point the finger at you for the entire accident. Going forward without an attorney in situations such as these will only serve to show you what you did wrong.
The Dallas work accident lawyers at Grossman Law Offices are well aware of the tricks that defense attorneys will try to pull to get out of paying you the compensation that you deserve. If you have been injured in a workplace accident, call (972) 808-7629 to schedule your free consultation with one of our attorneys and to discuss the merits of your case.
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