Liablity of employers for job injuries

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.

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No Love for Workers Exposed to Silica on Valentine ™s Day

Workers™ advocates in the United States have been waiting since the George W. Bush administration for stricter standards on one of the world’s oldest known workplace dangers. Ancient Greek stone cutters knew about the risks they faced breathing in sand or rock dust. Today, almost two million Americans work in jobs that expose them to silica, which often results in silicosis, lung cancer or other serious respiratory illnesses.

Most of the information and prevention measures from this 1938 U.S. Department of Labor film on preventing silicosis are still relevant today.

Laws setting limits on how much silica workers may inhale are out of date, according to workplace safety experts. Workers advocates want the limits cut in half, but manufacturers and their lobbying organizations disagree. No surprise.

On Valentine’s Day 2011, OSHA sent a proposal for new silica exposure rules to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The OMB was supposed to take 90 days to review the proposal. And yet, there sits the proposal, still at the OMB, two years later as Valentine’s Day 2013 approaches.

We agree with the director of safety and health for the AFL-CIO. Peg Seminario said, There has been incredible delay, inexcusable delay, on protecting workers against silica exposures. Seminario says the AFL-CIO and other workers groups thought they saw potential for movement during the George W. Bush administration and then grew hopeful under the Obama administration but no action has yet occurred.

Sixty workers a year die from silicosis, according to the government’s own estimates of work-related deaths. And thousands of people are newly diagnosed with silicosis or silica-related lung cancer every year. These workers can file workers compensation claims, of course, unless they are independent contractors. But even a successful workers’ compensation claim is small consolation for a stone worker who contracts a serious, often fatal, disease like silicosis.

During difficult economic times, workers often keep quiet about unsafe working conditions for fear of losing their jobs. During times like these, the government’s role as watchdog and protector of workers’ health and safety is even more important. The personal injury team at Bailey & Galyen call on the current administration to move forward these proposed new rules at a quicker pace.

If you or someone you know works with stone and is suffering respiratory illness, the most important step is to get high-quality medical care. If you then need help with a claim against the employer, Bailey & Galyen can help. We also encourage you to contact us if you know of an employer that might be violating the government’s existing limits on silica exposure.