Employers should take every step possible to help keep their workers going. This means, in part, providing a safe workspace, proper training, and efficient safety gear and practices to prevent time-loss injuries and catastrophic injuries on the job. When employers fail to do so, their workers can face serious injuries that keep them out of work and make it impossible to support their families.
If you were injured on the job in the Dallas area, our attorneys may be able to help you get compensation for lost wages, medical bills, and other expenses related to the injury. The Dallas on-the-job injury lawyers at The Queenan Law Firm represent injured workers and their families and fight to get them compensation from negligent employers and other parties responsible for their injuries. For a free legal consultation on your case, call The Queenan Law Firm today at (817) 476-1797.
Industries with the Most Frequent Workplace Accidents
As one of the largest and most heavily populated states in the U.S., Texas has also developed a bustling economy. In fact, Texas would boast the world’s twelfth largest economy by GDP if it were its own country. With over 78,000 employees working for hundreds of international companies, including BP, DOW Chemical, ExxonMobil, Shell Oil Company, CITGO, and ConocoPhillips.
Our Dallas workplace injury attorneys represent injured workers from across all of Texas’ biggest and most rapidly expanding industries and occupations, including:
- Accountants and Auditors
- Agriculture and Farming
- Aeronautics and Aviation
- Architecture and Engineering
- Cleaners and Janitors
- Computer Technology
- Cooks and Chefs
- Doctors, Nurses, and Healthcare Technicians
- Electric Power
- Food Preparation
- Medical Research
- Natural Gas
- Nuclear Energy
- Office and Administrative Support
- Oil Production
- Petroleum Refining
- Retail Sales
- Security Guards
- Waiters and Waitresses
Workers’ Compensation vs. An Injury Lawsuit in Dallas Work Injuries
Depending on the situation, there are two ways an injured employee in Dallas can seek compensation for a work-related accident:
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim with the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation (TDI-DWC).
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit against the party responsible for the accident.
Texas does not require employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. However, if your employer does not provide workers’ compensation for injured employees, you may be able to file a lawsuit. In order to be compensated, you will need to prove that your employer’s negligence was responsible for causing an otherwise preventable accident, leading to your job injury.
Negligence means failure to exercise the normal level of care that would be expected, considering the circumstances, in order to avoid a foreseeable accident. For example, negligent property maintenance at a restaurant, such as failing to repair a cracked floor tile, could cause a waiter to have a slip and fall accident.
If your employer provides workers’ compensation, you typically cannot file a lawsuit. However, there are a few circumstances where litigation is a possibility. For instance, if your injuries were caused by a third party other than your employer, you could potentially bring an action against that person or company. For example, if you were injured by a defective power tool, you could have a case against the power tool’s manufacturer or other parties.
Employer Liability for Injured Workers
One of the hallmarks of a long, lucrative career is the ability to rely on your employer to provide a safe working environment. The national standards handed down by government entities like OSHA – the Occupational Safety and Health Administration – help protect workers. The regulations and safety standards OSHA uses throughout the country are aimed at keeping workers safe at work. If your employer violated these rules and regulations, that failure could help you prove your workplace injury case.
A Dallas workplace injury lawsuit requires proving the employer’s negligence in court by proving each of the following four elements:
- The employer owed you a duty, as an employee.
- The employer breached that duty.
- That breach caused your injury.
- You suffered an injury the court can redress.
In cases where you are suing for the death of a loved one in an on-the-job accident, the fourth element is replaced by proving the financial and emotional harms their death caused you.
Proving these first two elements, duty and breach, comes down to demonstrating the standards that an employer in your employer’s situation can be expected to follow, and how the employer failed to live up to those standards. When there are federal or state regulations that govern the specific issue, you can use those standards to demonstrate the duty and breach.
If the safety regulations from bodies like OSHA or the Texas Division of Workers’ Compensation have the force of law, your employer could be held liable for violating these rules. The same is true for local or state laws, ordinances, and building codes. Since these rules are there to protect workers and create safe workplaces, your employer’s violation of a rule could create a per se negligence situation. In that case, the employer’s safety violation will automatically prove the duty and breach elements of the lawsuit. This makes your case easier to prove in court.
Proving Negligence in a Workplace Accident Injury Claim in Dallas, TX
In order to recover compensation in a lawsuit against your employer, you must prove that the employer was negligent in creating a safe workplace. This means that the actions, inactions, or decisions of the owners, upper management, or your supervisors created unsafe conditions. Things like failing to provide safety equipment, failing to inspect or repair facilities, failing to install smoke detectors, or failing to properly train workers could all be the employer’s fault. What these lawsuits might not cover is the failures of other workers.
If your employer does participate in workers’ compensation, you might be able to recover the bare necessities of compensation from workers’ compensation insurance. This should pay for medical expenses and lost wages while you are unable to work. This might only cover medical expenses for a physician your employer chooses, might pay you a reduced wage, and will not pay for pain and suffering. However, this will let you recover for injuries caused by the negligent conduct of a coworker or your employer. Further, you are not required to prove negligence under workers’ comp – any work-related injuries should be covered with or without a showing of fault.
If your employer does not participate in workers’ compensation, you might have no recourse but to sue in court. This means that you could potentially recover full compensation for medical expenses with a doctor of your choice, lost wages for their full amount, and damages for pain and suffering. However, you may not be able to recover for injury caused by a fellow co-worker, only for negligence caused by your employer. Because of an ancient legal doctrine called the “fellow-servant doctrine,” you might be barred from recovering compensation from your employer for the failures of a co-worker. This limits your damages to the portion your employer caused directly, such as failure to train the co-worker or equip you with proper safety gear.
How Much is a Work Injury Lawsuit Worth?
If you were injured at work, filing a lawsuit for your injury often opens up additional areas of damages that you cannot claim in a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ comp. cases typically allow victims to claim the cost of healthcare related to the injury, but they may be forced to use a doctor their employer chose for them. You may also claim lost wages through a workers’ comp. claim, but the damages might be reduced to only 2/3 of the wages you lost from the injury. You also cannot typically claim compensation for pain and suffering in a workers’ comp. claim.
When you file your case in court instead, you can claim the full value for each of these areas of damages. This means that you can get healthcare on your own with your doctor of choice and, if those damages are reasonable and were related to treating the injuries, you can claim compensation for them in court. You can typically also claim damages for 100% of the wages you lost and wages you will continue to lose going forward, and your employer or another responsible party should be forced to cover these damages.
Lastly, damages for pain and suffering can be claimed in most injury cases. These damages are separate from the damages for medical bills and other economic damages and instead reimburse you directly for the negative experiences of physical pain and discomfort as well as mental and emotional distress that the injury caused you. This can include damages for the physical sensations as well as the effects of the injury on your life, such as the distress at an inability to care for yourself, the pain of not being able to participate in physical activities you enjoyed, and other issues the injury caused.
Other damages might also be included in some injury cases. For instance, injured workers might have a spouse at home who faces harm from the injury as well because they must get a job or they no longer have help with household chores and other tasks. A spouse of an injured worker might be able to claim damages for this and other harms in a “loss of consortium” claim alongside the injury victim’s lawsuit.
Filing an Injury Lawsuit for a Workplace Injury in Dallas
Victims of on-the-job injuries are often required to use workers’ compensation programs to get financial compensation for their injuries. However, workers in Texas are permitted to opt out of workers’ compensation in the first few days of taking a new job. If you opted out, you may be entitled to sue your employer in the event of an on-the-job injury instead of relying on workers’ compensation. If you did not opt out, you may still be able to sue, but you may be limited to suing only in certain types of cases.
Victims of intentional workplace injuries are almost always entitled to sue the people who intentionally injured them for assault and battery. Similarly, independent contractors and employers themselves are not covered by workers’ comp. and may be entitled to sue the responsible parties for on-the-job injuries. Lastly, if your injuries were caused by a third party or certain types of equipment, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit against the parties that failed to keep the equipment safe or someone other than your employer who caused your injuries.
If you opted out of workers’ comp. in Texas, you can typically sue your employer for their part in causing on-the-job injuries. However, you will need to prove what exactly they did wrong that caused your injury before a judge can order compensation in your case. This typically means pointing to problems with safety training, on-site safety, safety gear, and other issues in the workplace. Many times, safety standards handed down by OSHA or similar state-level agencies can help prove what duty your employer owed you and what they did wrong to allow your injuries to happen.
When you sue for injuries, you will file your case in court. From there, your lawyer will put forth the case to the judge and attempt to negotiate a fair settlement with the at-fault parties. If they refuse to pay damages, the case can be fought at trial where a judge and jury can decide who was at fault and how much you deserve in damages.
Our Dallas Work Injury Lawyers Can Help
Taking your workplace injury case to a personal injury attorney can help you understand what your case might be worth. Moreover, an attorney can help you determine whether your employer supplies qualifying workers’ compensation coverage that could pay for your injuries. Without qualifying coverage, your work injury attorney in Dallas can file your case and fight to get you the compensation you need for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Act quickly though, because your case might be limited by strict legal deadlines.
Texas’ injury compensation laws can be complex, but you do not have to go through the process without help on your side. Count on the experienced Dallas work injury lawyers of The Queenan Law Firm for dedicated, around-the-clock legal support and representation. Call our law offices right away at (817) 476-1797 to schedule a free and confidential legal consultation.