Construction can be a dangerous industry, a fact evidenced by the high number of deaths and injuries reported annually to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). While nothing can take back an accident that has already happened, know that you have a right to seek compensation if you were injured while performing your job duties. Depending on the circumstances, an injured construction worker may be able to get compensated by filing a claim for workers' compensation or by suing the person who caused the injury. If you, your spouse, or one of your family members was seriously hurt while working on a construction site in Texas, you should speak with an experienced Houston personal injury attorney of QueenanLaw about getting compensated for your medical bills and other financial losses.
When Can You Sue Your Employer for a Workplace Injury in Texas?
It is not always possible for injured construction workers to sue their employers. Your ability to sue depends on three factors: whether or not your employer has purchased workers' compensation, the manner in which the accident occurred, and how long ago you sustained the injury.
Texas' personal injury laws attempt to evenly balance the rights of workers against the rights of employers. If your employer carries workers' compensation – which is optional, not mandatory, in the state of Texas – you will not be able to file a lawsuit under most circumstances. On the other hand, you will also not be required to prove that your employer was negligent in order to receive workers' comp benefits, which can include “medical benefits” (compensation for medical expenses) and “temporary income benefits” or TIB (temporary wage replacement benefits).
Proving negligence is a vital element of personal injury lawsuits involving all types of injuries and accidents. In short, negligence means failure to exercise adequate precautions to avoid a foreseeable and preventable accident – for instance, failing to supervise an employee, or failing to maintain safe working conditions at a construction site. The plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit carries the “burden of proof,” meaning the plaintiff is responsible for proving the defendant was actually negligent.
So why is this important for injured construction workers? While you generally cannot sue a Texas employer who carries workers' compensation, you may be able to sue a third party to recover additional compensation as a supplement to your workers' comp benefits – for example, the company that manufactured the defective power saw that injured you.
Moreover, there are several exceptions where litigation against employers may be possible. For instance, if a construction worker is killed because of an employer's negligence, or because an employer deliberately engaged in any sort of misconduct (e.g. intentionally violating safety regulations), the accident victim's spouse, children, or parents may file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas.
Regardless of whether you intend to file a lawsuit and/or a claim for workers' compensation, you must adhere to strict deadlines – otherwise, you will lose your opportunity to get compensated. You have 30 days to report a construction site injury to your employer, while the legal deadline for filing a lawsuit – known as the “statute of limitations” – is two years from the date the injury occurred. Even if you aren't certain whether you wish to pursue legal action, it's a good idea to talk to a Dallas construction accident attorney sooner rather than later. That way, there will be plenty of time to start planning a legal strategy if you have a case.
Contact a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Legal Consultation
Unlike most personal injury lawyers in Texas, Kevin Queenan is a former construction company owner and crane operator. Thanks to his many years of first-hand experience working in the construction industry, Kevin has a unique understanding of the conditions that allow preventable construction site accidents to occur. In addition to more than 20 years of legal experience handling accident claims and injury lawsuits, Kevin brings his extensive personal knowledge of the construction industry to every matter he handles on behalf of injured construction workers.
The Queenan Law Firm, P.C. handles personal injury matters in and around Houston, Dallas, Arlington, and Forth Worth, including Sugar Land, Pearland, Pasadena, Irving, Garland, Grapevine, and other local communities. If you or one of your family members was recently injured on a construction job, call Queenan Law right away at (817) 635-3333 to set up a free legal consultation. It is never too late or too early to call our law offices: we are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help you understand your rights as an injured employee in Texas. Your information will be kept confidential.