The general rule of law in Texas is that a company is liable for injuries to its employees that are caused by the company’s negligence. For example, if an oil-field worker is injured by an explosion and the explosion was caused by the negligence of the employer company or one of its other employees then the company will be liable to the injured employee. Employers can be negligent in many different ways such as failing to have adequate safety procedures, failing to provide a safe place to work, or not furnishing employees with proper tools and equipment. Employees are often injured by the carelessness of other employees at the same company. Companies will be liable for job injuries in these situations.
An exception to this general rule exists when the employer carries workers compensation insurance. Under the Texas Workers Compensation Act an injured employee who is covered by workers compensation insurance may not recover damages from his or her employer even when the injuries were totally the fault of the employer or a co-employee. In this situation, the injured employee’s sole remedy is to receive workers’ compensation benefits. This is one of the main reasons why employers carry workers compensation insurance. It immunizes them against lawsuits by employees who get hurt on the job. (There is an exception to this exception where the employee is killed and it was caused by the gross negligence of the employer.)
Unfortunately, workers compensation benefits are extremely limited and often do not come close to adequately compensating a seriously injured employee. It is very important to know that workers compensation insurance does not immunize third parties who may have contributed to the accident. For example, if an employee is injured by a defective product or equipment or by a careless person who does not work for same employer, then the injured employee can recover damages from the manufacturer of the defective equipment or the negligent third party, even though the injured employee is entitled to workers comp benefits. For this reason, serious workplace accidents should always be investigated for potential third party liability.