Drowning Accident Lawyer – Attorney Discusses Drowning Accidents
During our long hot summers, we Texans like to cool off in backyard swimming pools. There is, however, a negative side to this seemingly benign activity; if there is even a moment of lack of supervision or if a pool is not adequately maintained a serious injury or even a death may occur in the pool, particularly to our children.
In such an instance, the family of the injured or killed child may be able to seek financial compensation from the negligent party by filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. The attorneys here at our Law Office have written this brief article to help you understand the legal implications and to help you understand your legal rights.
Child Drowning Statistics in the United States
The United States Center for Disease Control recently compiled this list of statistics to address the severity and common occurrence of child drowning accidents in our country:
Children under the age of 14 accounts for more than one-fifth of all fatal drownings.
For every child that perishes in a swimming pool accident, there are another four children who require emergency medical care in the ER in order to treat their injuries.
In one year alone, for example, over one-third of all children who died from accidents perished by drowning.
Drowning is currently the second leading cause of death by unintentional injury to children aged from 1 to 4 years of age.
Most all of the drowning that involves children aged 1 to 4 years of age occurs in residential swimming pools.
Most all child drowning occurred when the child was being cared for by one or both parents, was out of sight for less than five minutes, and was last seen in the family house.
These numbers are truly staggering, especially in regard to the accident rate among children. Consequently, this is one major reason why parents … or those adults entrusted with the welfare of our children …. need to be so vigilant. Negligent supervision is the leading cause of swimming pool fatalities, whether that pool is a residential, apartment complex, or public facility swimming pool.
Negligent Supervision in Swimming Pool Accidents
It takes less than five minutes of inattention for a child to suffer an injury or fatality in a swimming pool. Even if a child escapes drowning, there is still an excellent chance that he or she will be seriously injured in this type of mishap. If oxygen does not reach the child’s brain, then a life-long medical condition may result, seriously impacting that child’s quality of life. To further compound the gravity of this problem, the accompanying medical bills may be astronomical. If a child does perish in the accident, of course, the emotional and mental turmoil suffered by the family can be painful and long-lasting as well. In either case, an aggrieved family may pursue both justice as well as financial compensation by filing either a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. We at our Law Office know that this is a tremendously difficult period of time for you; we can help you to see that justice is done and can also help you to ensure that this accident will not subject you to further financial stress.
These cases of negligent supervision most often occur when the parent, guardian, or another adult in responsibility (pool operator or lifeguard) fails to perform their duties to ensure the safety of any children entrusted to their care. If such negligence occurs the child may well wander into an area restricted from a child’s use or may simply go under the water in the pool. Pool accidents unfortunately may occur in a wide variety of ways; should this happen to a child of yours immediately contact our Law Office so that we may be of assistance.
Poor Pool Maintenance and Swimming Pool Accidents
Improper maintenance of the swimming pool and the equipment needed to run the pool is another common cause of Texas pool accidents. Bad pool gates, broken pool fences, broken diving boards, or defective pool drains can contribute to an accident that could result in injury or death. A manufacturer of a part involved in such as accident may possibly be liable; additionally, if a part were not properly maintained then the individual or company responsible for maintaining that part may be held liable. Properly assessing liability in these cases may be difficult as the parties responsible may not be actually involved at the accident site itself. The attorneys at our Law Office, however, have had extensive experience in cases involving swimming pool accidents and know how to accurately assess liability and then hold all responsible parties accountable.
Safety Tips for your Pool
The National Drowning Prevention Alliance has compiled a list of tips that should prove useful to ensure that your pool does not present any dangers to your children or to other children who may be visiting. On a different level, these tips might prove useful should a child of yours have an accident in someone else’s swimming pool; if that pool owner has not incorporated these pool safety tips then you will have merit in pursuing legal action against the negligent party responsible.
Never leave any child unattended while in or near a swimming pool.
No matter how well a child might be able to swim, no child should ever be considered “drown-proof.”
A responsible adult should be named a “water watcher” whenever children are in a swimming pool.
A fence five feet high should be erected between the pool and the house.
The pool gate should never be propped open, no matter how convenient.
Alarms should be installed on all doors and windows in a house facing the pool. These alarms should sound loud when opened.
The most efficient and convenient swimming pool covers are powered pool safety covers. Floating pool covers are not safety devices.
Always keep a phone near the pool. In the case of an emergency, it will be quick and easy to call for assistance. Plus, this means that you will never have to leave the pool area to answer a phone call.
The pool owner should know CPR.
A life-saving ring, a shepherd’s hook, and CPR instructions should be kept by the pool.
Never leave water in buckets or in wading pools.
The pool should always be the first place checked if a child is ever missing. Time is critically important in swimming pool deaths and injuries.
Always remove toys from the pool and from the swimming pool area.
Do not use chlorine dispensers that resemble toys.
Babysitters should always be warned about being particularly vigilant when caring for children near the pool.
Contact our Drowning Accident Lawyers – Drowning Accident lawsuit
The attorneys at our Law Offices can help you if your child was injured in a swimming pool accident. We can assist you by filing a personal injury lawsuit that will help ease the financial stress that you may be under. As you probably know, pool injuries may create long-lasting medical conditions that can be extremely expensive.
If your child has been killed in a swimming pool accident our attorneys can assist you in holding accountable the negligent parties responsible for this horrible accident. We will work with you to make sure that the guilty are punished and will work to ensure that a similar incident does not happen to another child in the future. While we know that no amount of money will ever replace a lost child, we will work for you to recover such damages as medical expenses, funeral costs, and compensation for pain and suffering.
It should be noted here that it is very important for the parents or guardians of children involved in a swimming pool accident to contact an attorney as soon as possible after the incident. In many cases where perhaps a faulty part is involved, the part in question may be repaired or may disappear if much time is allowed to pass after the accident. In other cases where there may be an issue of negligence involved, if time is allowed to pass then people sometimes may change their stories in an attempt to escape liability. In any of these cases, our attorneys will need to launch a thorough and complete investigation into the causes of the accident; evidence, as well as witness testimonies, are all necessary ingredients to winning a case and all are better collected as soon as possible after the incident. Finally, it should be noted that the statute of limitations in these types of cases is two years; it is always a wise idea to begin proceedings as soon as possible after the accident.
The attorneys at our Law Office have been successfully litigating personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits for over 20 years. We want to help you through the legal process now so that you may return to your life with as little financial stress as possible. We do understand what a difficult time this is for you emotionally.
Please contact us toll-free. We are pleased to offer a free consultation and we look forward to answering all your questions regarding your case.
Swimming Pool Drownings
Swimming Pool Accident Attorney Discusses Swimming Pool Drowning Accidents
The cool, refreshing shimmering waters in backyard swimming pools summon sweat-soaked Texans out of the roiling summer sun and into their refreshing liquid cocoons. Multitudes of homeowners and apartment dwellers enjoy these aquatic oases.
However, these havens of H2O renewal and relaxation can become harbingers of pain and suffering if improper supervision and pool maintenance occur. Apartment complex pools, city or community pools, and backyard pools are the sites of swimming pool drownings and accidents resulting in severe injury or even death. If you or a loved one has experienced injury or death in any of the places mentioned above, you may want to file a lawsuit to seek restitution through monetary compensation and to dispense justice on the liable parties. Our swimming pool drowning and accident attorneys, with over two decades of experience in personal injury and wrongful death litigation, can help you in the aftermath of a swimming pool accident or tragedy.
How Do Swimming Pool Accidents Take Place?
Swimming pool accidents happen primarily because of a lack of supervision. We all know horror stories of children drowning in an accident that happened in the twinkling of an eye. The speed at which drowning accidents occur is astounding — they afford little mercy or room for error, it seems. Just a brief lapse in monitoring minors can result in tragedy. The negligent party may have either been an adult supervising or a lifeguard.
Even when a child is rescued from a fatal drowning accident, lifelong debilitating medical conditions can remain, caused by a lack of oxygen to the child’s brain while they were submerged under the water. These type of injuries that change a child’s life also places severe financial stress and economic hardship upon the family to provide the needed medical care. Then, the horrific grief suffered by a family over the loss of their child in a fatal pool accident can be debilitating. In each situation, the grieving family can seek compensation for their loss. Obviously, no amount of money can compensate a family for the loss of their child, yet it can provide much-needed economic relief from costly medical expenses and other damages that are incurred.
Inadequate pool maintenance is another reason pool accidents happen so often. Keeping pools safe and functioning properly requires a lot of maintenance and upkeep. Murky water, pool equipment inadequately maintained and defective pool drains can all contribute to pool accidents. If the pool is not maintained correctly and an injury or fatal pool accident occurs, the injured victim or family member can file a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death lawsuit for compensation against the liable party charged with neglectful pool maintenance.
Lastly, some swimming pool accidents occur because of faulty or defective equipment, like a malfunctioning pool gate, a damaged diving board, or a faulty pool drain. Sometimes, the manufacturer of that part or device may be held liable for the injury or death. In other instances, the party responsible for the maintenance of the part so that it functions correctly can be held liable. Determining that specific liability can be challenging, and require an experienced drowning accident lawyer to untangle the causes of the accident so that each responsible party can be held accountable for their contribution to the accident.
The pool owner has a legal duty to share with guests any potential dangers or risks the use of the pool may create—this implicit duty as a pool owner is found under Texas law regarding premise liability.
Texas Premise Liability in Relation to Pool Accidents
Premise liability law concerns instances where someone sustains an injury or is killed while they are on someone else’s property. The majority of pool accidents occur when someone is visiting another individual’s home or property. In this scenario, that property owner has a specific legal duty toward their guests, depending on how the guest is designated:
A person who knowingly and willingly visits a property for the mutual benefit of both property owner and visitor is termed an invitee.
A person that knowingly and willingly visits a property for their own benefit is referred to as a licensee. For example, a friend visiting a friend’s house would be termed a licensee.
The term trespasser is given to a person that knowingly and willingly enters a property without permission of the property owner. A burglar would be considered a trespasser, for example.
For the great majority of pool accidents, the victim is considered a licensee. Consequently, the property owner has a legal duty to warn their visitors about any previously existing risky conditions and to not intentionally cause injury to their visitor; basically, the pool owner must be proactive in watching out for the safety of those individuals using their pool. In the event of a fatal drowning accident, the pool owner could be held civilly liable for a victim’s death. The plaintiff, in this scenario, would seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.
The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act
The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act is a federal law that was enacted to prevent entrapment injuries or entrapment deaths from taking place in swimming pools and spas at educational facilities, apartments, and public places. It became effective in late 2008 and requires these pools and spas to use approved anti-entrapment drain covers. Texas law applies to these pools and spas too, because the state’s requirements meet or exceed the federal requirements.
Filing a Drowning Accident Lawsuit
Our Law Office swimming pool drowning and accident attorneys can assist you in seeking compensation for the injury and expenses you’ve accrued, if your child experienced an injury in a pool drowning accident. Many serious medical conditions arise from pool injuries. These conditions can seriously impact your child and lead to mounting medical expenses you would be required to pay for their ongoing care and rehabilitation.
Our swimming pool drowning attorneys can help you hold the responsible parties accountable for their behavior if your child died from a swimming pool accident. Our attorneys will identify all responsible parties to punish them for their negligent actions and to make sure another drowning doesn’t occur again. Obviously, no amount of money can resuscitate your child, yet monetary compensation for damages through a wrongful death suit can reimburse you for all funeral costs, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Our swimming pool drowning lawyers have over twenty years of experience handling these wrongful death cases and have helped hundreds of families seek compensation and witness the responsible party receive punishment for their negligence.
It’s critically important that the parents or guardians contact an attorney immediately after a drowning accident. If faulty parts or inadequate maintenance contributed to the accident, the faulty part may strangely be fixed before an investigation can be undertaken, and you may not be able to prove the faulty part played a role in the accident. If negligent supervision was an issue, the liable party may lie about their actions or inaction. Witnesses important to your case can suddenly disappear, and the statute of limitations in Texas on wrongful death cases is only 24 months from the date of injury or death. It is not a wise choice to delay or postpone the process of seeking compensation and justice from a liable party.
Our swimming pool drowning attorneys are available to help you pursue compensation and justice for your child’s drowning injury or death. We will walk with you through this very emotionally difficult time in your life, and make sure all liable parties are held accountable for their negligent behavior or actions.
Contact our swimming pool drowning and accident lawyers for a free consultation (toll-free). We can answer your specific questions about your case and will share all potential legal options so you can make an informed decision about your future.
Lake & Reservoir Drowning and Boating Accidents
Many Texans celebrate the good times by taking a trip down to the lake. They certainly have plenty to choose from for fun in the sun and on the water.
Sadly, too many lake excursions end in tragedy. Lake drownings, boating accidents, and other accidents on the open water happen all too often. Accidents of this type may have many parties that hold responsibility for the wrongful death. If you have lost a beloved family member due to a lake drowning, you probably have a lot of questions right now. How did the accident happen? Who is at fault? The lake drowning attorneys of our Law Office are here to help you find the answers to these questions.
What are my Legal Options if my Family Member was the Victim of a Wrongful Death Lake Drowning?
Many different circumstances can contribute to a lake drowning accident. Careless play in the water, such as jokingly holding somebody under the water without intending harm, can lead to a lake drowning. Somebody could be driving a watercraft and hit a swimmer, causing them to drown. Safety gear could fail. In lake areas with lifeguards, a lifeguard may have been responsible for failing to notice a drowning swimmer. The employer of the lifeguard may also be considered to be at fault due to the legal doctrine of respondeat superior. The responsibility for a lake drowning may be held by any one of these parties, or by all of them, depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident.
If a child drowns while under adult supervision, it may be a result of negligence on the part of the adult. Negligent supervision accounts for many lake drowning accidents involving children. There may be an incorrect assumption of the swimming proficiency of the child on the part of the adult, or neglect to realize a body of water is more dangerous than it at first appears. If a child is the victim of a lake drowning mishap due to such circumstances, the adult charged with their care may be considered responsible and could face a wrongful death lawsuit.
When the lake drowning attorneys of our Law Office are called upon to investigate the circumstances of a lake drowning, they will begin collecting information and evidence about the incident immediately to determine which parties are responsible. The services of an experienced lake drowning lawyer are critical to identify the liable entities and make sure that you receive the financial restitution that you deserve after the loss of a beloved family member to a lake drowning accident. Conducting the investigation is critical in determining responsibility on the part of the liable parties.
What About Boating Accidents? What are the Specific Legal Ramifications Involved?
Boating accidents can also result in lake drowning incidents. Carelessly handling a boat or watercraft can cause harm not just to the people outside the boat, but to people inside the boat as well. If a careless person who has leased a boat causes a lake drowning accident due to not being acquainted with the finer points of watercraft operation, both that person and the person who actually owns said watercraft may be said to be responsible for a lake drowning caused by negligent handling of the boat, the person for the negligence of their use of the craft and the owner for the negligence inherent in allowing someone who lacks the appropriate skills required to operate it.
Sometimes boating accidents occur because the parties operating the vessel are intoxicated. Although drinking on boats is common enough, even one drunken person can cause considerable damage. If the inebriated person takes control of the craft at any point in time, the results have the potential to be disastrous for all involved. The person who is under the influence may be held responsible under the law, but Texas dram shop law may also be a factor in such a circumstance. If someone gets drunk at a bar on the lakeside and then goes on to operate a watercraft and causes an accident, the bar that served them the alcohol may be partially responsible. It is the responsibility of a bar to make sure that they do not serve their patrons too much alcohol. Proving this sort of responsibility on the part of the bar involved can be complex, and generally requires the assistance of an experienced lake drowning attorney. Our Law Office has 20 years of experience dealing with dram shop law and pursuing wrongful death claims. Our attorneys can provide you with the legal experience necessary to determine who was at fault in a lake drowning or boating accident.
What Kind of Damages Can be Pursued in the Case of a Wrongful Death due to a Lake Drowning or Boating Accident?
If your family member was killed in a lake drowning due to negligence of another party, you may be able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. There are two kinds of damages that can be claimed in a wrongful death lawsuit. These damages are known as wrongful death damages and survival damages.
Wrongful death damages may be pursued in order to assist the family of the deceased in recovering economically and emotionally from the tragedy that occurred. Wrongful death due to a lake drowning accident is a tremendously painful time in any family’s life. What makes it worse is that on top of losing an important loved one in a lake drowning or boating accident, now you are faced with funeral bills and the lack of the person’s income if they were a breadwinner in your family. So, what kinds of wrongful death damages may be claimed? These include the following:
Various funeral expenses
Mental and emotional trauma caused by the lake drowning
The pain involved in losing a uniquely loved person
Medical expenditures related to the accident
Survival damages are basically damages that the deceased could have claimed if they had survived the accident. Only one person, usually the victim’s spouse, may claim survival damages because, in essence, they are standing in for the deceased person. A few of the survival damages that may be claimed are as follows:
Medical expenditures, if the victim lived long enough to pay them before they died
Destruction of property
Wages that would have been lost if the victim had survived
Physical and emotional pain and suffering
Compensation for disfigurement
The legal issues involved are tremendously complicated, and should not be attempted to be argued by a layperson or an inexperienced lawyer. You will want to have an experienced lake drowning attorney on your side to successfully argue your case. In Texas, there are four factors required to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. These factors are:
The wrongful death was the result of another party’s actions or inactions
The negligence of the liable was directly responsible for the victim’s death
The deceased has family members who are entitled to seek wrongful death or survival damages
The family left behind has suffered a tremendous financial loss as a result of the accident
What Actions are Needed at this Time?
To construct a successful claim of wrongful death due to a lake drowning or boating accident, an investigation into the circumstances of the incident should begin as soon as possible. The time to hire an experienced lake drowning lawyer is now, so they can begin the process of gathering information and evidence that will help to strengthen your case. Our Law Office will initiate the investigation into the lake drowning accident as soon as we are hired.
Have You been Affected by a Lake Drowning or Boating Accident that Caused the Wrongful Death of a Loved One? Contact the Lake Drowning Attorneys of our Law Office Today.
As we have mentioned before, pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit may enable you to achieve financial restitution following a lake drowning or boating accident. In the case of injuries sustained, a personal injury lawsuit can allow you to recover wages lost due to the accident, medical expenditures, and other expenses that were incurred. A wrongful death lawsuit can allow you to recoup your family member’s future wages that were lost due to the wrongful death, the expenditures related to funeral services, and the other types of compensation that we have already reviewed. Being free from worrying about the expenses inherent in a lake drowning accident will allow you to begin the process of recovery.
Successful wrongful death lawsuits may also help other people in your shoes. The court costs and payouts involved heavily incentivize companies to change their practices so that the same types of accidents do not occur in the future. Our Law Office wants to help you recover financially from the great loss you have sustained, as well as hold the parties responsible for their imprudent irresponsibility.
Make a toll-free phone call to the lake drowning attorneys at our Law Office today to receive a free consultation. We can answer your questions and let you know what legal options are available to you.
Water Park Drowning Lawyer on Water Park Drowning Accidents in Texas
With the millions of visitors that throng to Texas water parks each year, it is a statistical inevitability that accidents are destined to occur. Fractured bones, neck and back injuries, water-borne diseases and even death are the type injuries and tragedies that can unfold in the twinkling of an eye at these popular water parks.
When these type water park mishaps or drowning take place, the injured victim or parent or guardian of an injured child, can pursue compensation through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible parties. Yet the process of determining just who is to blame for such water park accidents can be challenging because of the many legal complexities surrounding these water park accidents.
Water Park Accident Liability
Just who is to blame when a water park accident takes place? That is usually the first question or dilemma posed by an injured victim or parent of an inured child at a water park. Often, depending on the circumstances of the mishap, there can be more than one responsible party. For example, a negligent lifeguard may be unaware of a child struggling in the water, especially at heavily attended water parks in peak visiting hours. Yet, a lifeguard is supposedly trained to be hyper-vigilant in keeping a watchful eye open for any danger of a child drowning or suffering some injury. Serious personal injury can result from a supervising adult failing to act quickly enough. A child can suffer severe brain damage when a water park drowning takes place—this damage occurs because of a lack of oxygen to the brain. If a water park supervisor, whether an employee or lifeguard, fails to take responsible action when the accident takes place, then the employee and employer will both likely bear liability for the accident that ensues.
If there is insufficient pool maintenance, or maintenance of the water rides, amusement park equipment, or protective barriers such as fences and gates surrounding certain areas of the water park, the water park owner may bear premises liability for the accident. If an underage child can easily access the restricted areas, then the owner can be held liable for that child’s injury or death. If an improperly maintained water slide malfunctions, a person injured on that slide could hold the owner of the property or water park management company liable for the injury.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) maintains safety standards for water parks regarding water quality, staffing, and design. When the water in a pool or water park ride is not correctly treated with anti-bacterial chemicals, water-borne diseases can arise. Professional lifeguards should understand CPR and life-saving procedures, as well as crowd control, according to staffing requirements. And water parks should be built in such a way that minimizes injuries or accidents, such as those created by shallow pools, slippery surfaces, or overcrowded rides at water parks.
Finally, a part manufacturer can bear liability if a defective safety device or faulty drain cover was partially responsible for the water park accident. Yet, the process of determining if a product liability case exists can be challenging, because a faulty drain cover can be due to poor maintenance, as opposed to poor design or manufacturing. But if a piece of equipment did contribute to a water park drowning accident, both the manufacturer and party responsible for maintaining the equipment will undergo investigation. Also, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool Safety Act requires the installing of anti-entrapment drain covers and suctions covers in public pools. If the installed covers at water parks do not meet the requirements set forth by the Pool & Safety Act, the water park could be violating the law. Pools that do not have these types of covers may lead to water park entrapment mishaps.
Contact Water Park Drowning Attorneys If You’ve Been Injured in a Water Park
Severe personal injury or death can occur through water park accidents or water park injuries. When such mishaps take place because of the negligent behavior of another party or parties, the injured victim or grieving family is entitled to seek legal action towards the liable parties by filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. By filing a civil lawsuit, the plaintiff can receive compensation for their injury or loss, and see justice served so this type accident does not occur to someone else in the future.
Yet with so many complex aspects of the law that come into play with these water park accidents including product liability, premises liability, or negligent supervision, a grieving party will often need the legal assistance of a competent water park accident lawyer that has a wide range of legal expertise and a successful track record in litigating these cases. Our water park accident attorneys have been assisting thousands of injured victims throughout the U.S. over the last two decades. You deserve financial restitution for medical bills, lost wages, and if you’ve lost a loved one, funeral expenses, or loss of future earnings of your loved one.
The attorneys at our Law Office can help you through this difficult period and are committed to seeing the liable parties held accountable for their behavior, so there are no future drowning or accident victims at the same water parks. Call our water park accident attorneys for a free consultation and discussion of your legal options in the aftermath of a water park accident. We are here for you to help you recover from your accident or tragedy and move forward into the future.
The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act
What is the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act? Texas Drowning Lawyer Answers
In June of 2002, seven-year-old Virginia Graeme Baker died in a pool accident caused by a hot tub drain. Despite being an accomplished swimmer for such a young age, she became trapped through suction into a pool drain. Her mother and two other men attempted to free her. So much force was exerted in efforts to save her that the drain cover eventually broke off. Unfortunately, the efforts were not enough to save the young girl. Graeme, as her family called her, died due to entrapment by a faulty drain cover.
Not wanting other families to experience the same kind of grief she did, Graeme’s mother, Nancy Baker, daughter of the former Secretary of State James Baker III, went to work to get legislation passed that could prevent future tragic pool accidents caused by faulty drains. The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act was passed into law on Dec. 19, 2007, and became effective the following year. Essentially, the bill mandated that all public pools and spas had to use anti-entrapment, safety-compliant drain covers so that severely injurious or fatal pool accidents would not occur.
The findings section contained in the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act present a few sobering statistics in regards to childhood drowning accidents:
Congress finds the following (SEC. 1402: FINDINGS):
Of injury-related deaths, drowning is the second leading cause of death in children aged 1 to 14 in the United States.
In 2004, 761 children aged 14 and under died as a result of unintentional drowning.
Adult supervision at all aquatic venues is a critical safety factor in preventing children from drowning.
Research studies show that the installation and proper use of barriers or fencing, as well as additional layers of protection, could substantially reduce the number of childhood residential swimming pool drownings and near-drownings.
The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act goes on to state that ASME/ANSI A112.19.8-2007 compliant drain covers must be used in public pools and spas, which includes school pools, apartment pools, water park pools, hotel pools, or spas located at these places. If these places do not have such anti-entrapment drain covers installed and a child or adult suffers an injury or death as a result, the property owner or property manager may be in violation of federal law. Additionally, they may also be held liable for such an accident since proper steps were not taken to ensure the safety of their tenants or guests while using their pool.
Contact Our Texas Pool Accident Lawyers
If you or your child has suffered a severe injury due to entrapment in a pool drain cover, consider contacting our Texas pool accident law firm. You may be able to seek compensation for your injury or your child’s injury through a personal injury lawsuit in Texas. Such compensation can be put to use in paying off already-incurred medical bills, future medical bills, and other types of damages often incurred in the aftermath of sustaining an injury caused by another person’s or entity’s negligent behavior.
Should you have lost a loved one due to a faulty pool drain cover, consider contacting our Law Office to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. Although compensation is sought in such civil suits in order to help an aggrieved party through the financial losses they’ve experienced as a result of their personal loss, seeking justice is often a larger reason for a bereaved family member to seek this kind of legal action. When the drowning accident attorneys at our Law Office are enlisted to help with a wrongful death case, we will conduct a thorough investigation into the accident site in order to determine who the liable parties may have been and what role they may have played in contributing to the fatal pool accident. Our goal is to hold each party fully accountable for their negligent behavior so that such behavior does not have to result in further harm or loss to another individual or family.
With 20 years of experience in both personal injury and wrongful death law in Texas, our attorneys can help you through this difficult time so that you may be able to seek compensation and pursue justice. Consider contacting our law firm for a free legal consultation. You’ll be able to ask any questions you may still have and receive answers in regards to your possible legal options. Should you be able to proceed with bringing a personal injury or wrongful death claim against a negligent party or parties, we can help you through that process so that justice can be served.
Construction Accident Attorney
Our Construction Accident Lawyers are Here to Discuss Your Case for Free
Our Law Office has been litigating personal injury accident lawsuits for over twenty years. We have settled thousands of personal injury cases successfully. If you have been injured on a building site, you need a good construction accident lawyer to represent you.
Give our Law Office a call today and get the experience and success on your side to help you in your case. Our consultation is free and so is the call. Get in touch with us now toll-free.
Wherever you look in Texas it seems, there is some type of construction being done. Whether it is working on the roads or new houses going up in a new subdivision, there is no shortage of construction projects in Texas. And with that kind of building and repair taking place, there is always the potential for construction accidents. It’s not a question of if, but when they will happen.
So what takes place if it is you who gets injured on a job-related construction site? You should be aware that many factors are involved. For example, some of these things are whether or not a company carries workers’ compensation insurance, and if you are an employee or only a contract laborer. Inexperienced lawyers will have a hard time navigating the legal waters of construction site accidents, especially when considering the potential complexity of each situation. Even more so will you have difficulty if you try and work your own personal injury claim.
That is why you need to hire an experienced, construction accident lawyer to litigate your case. Our legal team has over twenty years of experience in resolving workman’s compensation insurance problems for those injured on work sites. We stand ready to help you understand the options you have before you when dealing with this sort of situation if you have been injured or lost a loved one in an accident on the job. In addition, we want you to be aware of the obstacles that await you if you decide to take this legal journey to right your wrong.
In the following article, we will discuss some of the issues involving building location work accidents and what you need to know if you have been injured while working on a construction site.
Subscribers to Workman’s Compensation
Workman’s compensation insurance is government-subsidized insurance that is set up to help companies to insure their workers in case of an accident. In theory, it is supposed to protect workers against companies that will not or cannot pay for the worker’s lost wages and injuries. However, arguments could be made that it does more harm than good, and although we will not enumerate all of the reasons workman’s comp is ultimately a hindrance to the injured worker, we will say, in general, that it does limit the injured worker’s rights to sue and the amount that may be collected for damages received.
There are basically two kinds of employers regarding potential lawsuits- subscribers to workman’s compensation insurance and non-subscribers to workman’s compensation insurance. The state of Texas does not require companies to carry worker’s compensation insurance.
If a company does subscribe to worker’s compensation, they are more protected against potential lawsuits than a non-subscriber is. In addition, there is no reimbursement for pain and suffering and there are limits set on monies recovered in most cases. Only in cases that gross negligence has been proven, can a company subscribing to workmans’ compensation insurance even be sued. And this is important to note, especially since gross negligence is very hard to prove in court. For these reasons, one would think that most companies would opt to purchase workman’s compensation for all of their employees. However, many companies simply do not subscribe. In Texas, around forty percent of all companies are non-subscribers to workman’s compensation insurance. Some choose to not subscribe because of the high cost, others choose not to sign up because they want to be self-insured or because they do not want excessive government intrusion.
Although for the most part when dealing with subscribers of workman’s compensation insurance you may not be able to sue them for your injuries, there are two exceptions to the rule. One is the employer’s gross negligence that led to the injury or death of a worker; the other is when another party’s gross negligence led to the injury or death of a worker.
An example of gross negligence of an employer is found in a case we tried at our Law Office. In this instance, a worker was asked to perform his work hanging high in the air from a crane without a properly working safety harness. The company was aware that the harness was not functioning properly, but thought it would be ok. However, the worker’s strap did not hold him and he fell to his death. The company then tried to cover its tracks by purchasing a properly working harness and fitting it on the dead man’s body. Later it was shown through testimony, research and forensics, that the company was grossly negligent and that they had to pay heavily for the damages caused to the person and to their family.
In other situations, the company may not be held liable, but another third party may. Other construction contractors or the manufacturer of equipment that malfunctioned are examples of this. The negligence may not be because of the irresponsible behavior of the company itself, but because of the actions of other parties. And sometimes, there can be a combination of all the above- the company, and the third party.
Whatever may be the cause, you need a seasoned construction accident lawyer to represent you and your interests when dealing with such situations. Because of the complexity and the difficulty in proving such cases, it is unwise to go it alone. Please give us a call today toll-free and let us go to work for you. The consultation is free.
Non-Subscribers to Workman’s Compensation
Non-subscribers of workman’s compensation insurance have a different set of variables involved in their lawsuits. When dealing with non-subscribers, you are much more likely to get a company that will not settle immediately for the fact that they are protecting their own money and resources. They are more likely to aggressively defend themselves against such accusations that may be levied against them. When a claim is filed against a non-subscriber, they have the chance to settle out of court, but if they do not, the injured party, or plaintiff, has the burden to prove that an injury did occur at the hands of the company. Fortunately, the level of proof is much lower than that of subscribers to workman’s compensation insurance.
Defining Sole Proximate Cause
The main obstacle to overcome regarding non-subscribers is the lone defense that they can legally employ sole proximate cause. Sole proximate cause is when a person is one-hundred percent responsible for their own injuries. In such cases, the company, or defense, will hire specialized attorneys who are skilled at shifting the blame to the injured worker. They will try and show that the cause of the accident was completely due to the actions of the injured individual and not because of the company. This of course can be a difficult proposition for the defense, since they have to prove one-hundred percent. This makes non-subscriber cases advantageous for the plaintiff. If you have been injured in a construction site accident, it is important to have the advice of a qualified construction accident attorney to help you decide if you have a viable case against a non-subscriber. Give our Law Office a call today toll-free and receive your free consultation.
Contract Labor Versus Company Employer
Although the sole proximate cause defense is the only legal defense afforded to a non-subscriber, it is not the only defense period. Often companies in an attempt to avoid lawsuits in the first place will hire contract labor. With contract labor, there is not the same legal liability involved in the case of an on-the-job accident. This allows the construction company to avoid its responsibility more easily.
By definition, contract labor is labor that is hired on a per-job basis and in which no tools are provided and no specific times to work are given. In addition, no supervisor is supposed to give direct orders on how to complete the task. These definitions along with several others make up the contract employee–company relationship. By contrast, the employer of a company is legally more protected and the company has much more legal liability in regards to him. The employer is usually provided his tools, told the time to work, and given instructional supervision of some sort.
However, companies will try and stretch the definition of a contract laborer to fit their needs. This is where the knowledge and know-how of a veteran construction accident attorney come in handy. Our Law Office can do the investigative research that will reveal the actual nature of the relationship between the company and the injured worker so we can help you develop a solid case.
Below is a list of definitions of which any will constitute an employer-employee relationship.
Withheld taxes on check
Important equipment or tools provided by the company
Set work hours
Direct inspection and oversight of work done
Taking a drug test or limiting your rights
Being employed for not only a single project but for an undetermined amount of time
You are not paid on a per-job basis but by the hour
If any one of these is applicable to your situation, you may actually be an employee of the company, even though they claim you are not. If this is the case, you may be entitled to sue and receive compensation for your injuries. Our Law Office can help you make that important determination. Give us a call today toll-free.
The Problem With O.S.H.A.
O.S.H.A. stands for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It is a government agency that sets the standards for the workplace and levies fines against companies that break those standards. But because the standards were put in place in the 1960s, they are outdated and sometimes inadequate in protecting workers. In addition, the fines given to companies breaking them are so small that they amount to nothing more than a slap on the wrist. These companies sometimes will go on paying O.S.H.A. fines instead of the cost of making their work environments safer.
Therefore, do not expect that you will not need an attorney just because big brother O.S.H.A. is there. In addition to being ineffective in dealing with non-compliant companies, O.S.H.A. will not get compensation for injured workers. They will not collect medical expenses, pain and suffering, or lost wages on your behalf. O.S.H.A. only deals with the company at large to help prevent future problems. They are only interested in keeping documentation that states that a company is in good stead with its procedures and standards.
For these reasons, it is extremely important to have a qualified construction accident attorney like our Law Office on your side. You need to have solid legal counsel to represent your real needs so you can get the reparation you legally are entitled to receive.
If you have been injured in a construction site accident the first thing to remember is not to sign anything without first consulting a qualified construction accident lawyer. They will make sure you do not end up signing away the potential settlement that you really deserve, not the first lowball offer that your company will make.
Second, you must remember the importance of immediate action. Evidence on any construction site begins to be lost immediately after the accident occurs. Numerous workers, machines, and weather all can change crucial evidence that may help prove your case. If you hesitate you may regret it later. Our Law Office is extremely skilled at the art of investigation and can take swift action on your behalf that can save important evidence from being lost. Every minute you wait will make it more difficult for you to potentially make a viable and robust case for yourself.
So do not hesitate to take advantage of our twenty-plus years of experience. We are here twenty-four hours a day, ready to answer your questions. We are qualified and we know we can help. Call us toll-free for your free consultation.
Gross Negligence Defined
The only way you can sue a company that is a workers’ compensation subscriber is by proving its gross negligence led to the death of your family member. Instances such as momentary lapse of focus or reason, or an isolated error, are considered standard negligence and are protected by workers’ comp. But if either an employer or one of its employees habitually displays recklessness or carelessness in the performance of their duty to protect others, that is considered gross negligence. Say a fellow worker accidentally knocks a cinder block off the roof of a building and crushes an employee standing below. This is an example of standard negligence. But if the construction company habitually allows a construction site to pose a hazard due to debris constantly lying around, and other objects have repeatedly been knocked from the building, then that is gross negligence. The worksite’s foreman should have been reasonably able to anticipate the possibility that a fatal accident could have been a consequence of that hazardous environment.
One of our clients was the family member of a construction worker who died when his boss ordered him to work on a crane without a properly functioning safety harness. Not only did the worker’s harness malfunction and cause him to fall to his death, but the owner of the company also had the sheer audacity to race to a nearby hardware store, buy a new harness, and attach it to the corpse before the death was even reported. But because we undertook an investigation and interviewed other workers who were at the scene, we were able to expose the owner’s callous attempt at a cover-up.
In order for your family’s wrongful death lawsuit to be successful, you need to have an experienced attorney on your side who can strategize a rock-solid case that can meet the high standards necessary to prove gross negligence.
Because a non-subscribing company did not purchase workers’ comp insurance, the only way to gain restitution is through a lawsuit. In this case, however, the plaintiff needs only prove the occurrence of standard negligence to win restitution, and standard negligence has a much lower standard of proof.
The State of Texas, in effect, punishes non-subscribers by making it easier for a plaintiff to win a wrongful death lawsuit. However, the litigation involved in such a case can be much more intricate and emphasizes, even more, your need to have an experienced attorney on your side. Not only must the plaintiffs in this kind of case prove their loved one’s death was due to the company’s standard negligence, but they must also prove the amount of compensation they are trying to obtain is fair and just.
The compensation associated with wrongful death damages include:
Medical and funeral expenses as a result of the construction fatality.
Financial support provided by the victim lost as a result of his or her death.
The mental and emotional trauma as a result of the family member’s death.
The consortium and love provided by the deceased that cannot be replaced.
Restitution for survival damages include:
Medical expenses arising as a result of the construction site accident.
Salary lost while the victim would have been hospitalized, or salary that would have been lost by the victim because of long-term disabling injuries caused by the accident.
The mental and emotional turmoil that the deceased would have experienced had he or she survived.
The physical pain and suffering experienced by the deceased.
Hurdles in Obtaining Wrongful Death Case Compensation
Non-subscribing companies have very few options in trying to avoid paying a construction wrongful death claim, because, as stated above, the State of Texas designed workers’ compensation laws to try and reduce the number of lawsuits, and thus strongly encourage companies to subscribe. But even a non-subscriber has a couple of tools it can try to utilize to defeat a wrongful death claim. These are described in detail below.
Sole Proximate Cause
The only true defense a non-subscriber can use to avoid paying a claim is the Sole Proximate Cause defense – that the deceased employee was 100 percent responsible for his or her own death. The only way an employer can successfully prove this defense is by making your family out to be a habitually incompetent employee who was negligent on a regular basis. If successful in proving Sole Proximate Cause, the employer will be able to keep from paying your family the compensation that you deserve.
While it’s true the company did not see fit to pay for workers’ comp insurance, you can guarantee that company will open its checkbook and pay big money to a defense lawyer who is adept at dragging deceased construction workers through the mud. It is imperative you have an experienced and effective attorney by your side to defeat those lowdown tactics and protect your loved one’s reputation.
The Employer/Employee Relationship
A few employers will try and skate the rules by claiming the deceased worker was never really a “true employee,” but a contractor. And in Texas, contractors are solely responsible for their own safety in the workplace. But merely making that claim does not mean that Texas law will view that worker as a contractor. Attorneys with our Law Office\s are very adept at proving that an employer/employee relationship existed by examining pay stubs and contracts and interviewing fellow workers in order to satisfy one of the several standards that prove an employer/employee relationship. These include:
The employer held back Social Security or taxes from the worker’s paycheck.
The employer was responsible for providing the equipment necessary for the worker to perform his or her job.
The worker was expected to follow a set schedule established by the employer.
Your family member either signed a document or performed a task, that limited his or her rights while working for that company. For example, he or she signed a document that stated he or she agreed to comply with an employee handbook or took a drug test.
The worker was not hired for an isolated, single job, but rather for an extended, undetermined amount of time.
Your loved one was paid via salary or hourly wage instead of job-by-job.
What Can You Do?
The first thing NOT to do is to ever, ever give up your right to sue by signing any sort of admission of your family member’s liability for the accident in exchange for a woefully inadequate settlement.
Next, you must act immediately to find a lawyer, or at least as soon as you can. It can be very difficult, and require a lot of proof, to protect the reputation of your deceased loved one.
Every minute you wait to hire an attorney is every minute that evidence disappears – witnesses’ memories become cloudy, and the physical characteristics of the accident scene itself begin to alter. The longer you wait to seek legal help, the more difficult time you’ll have unearthing the evidence that is crucial to prevailing in your case. A detailed investigation needs to immediately be launched; after all, the construction company, insurance provider, and defense lawyers will already be working for the other side. You need a tenacious and passionate attorney working on your side to match them stride for stride.
The wrongful death attorneys at our Law Office have helped the devastated families of construction fatality victims for two decades. We’ve won hundreds of wrongful death cases that resulted in millions of dollars in judgments for our clients. When hired, we will launch an immediate investigation into the circumstances surrounding your family member’s death and gather the evidence you will need to prove your case. And we will not hesitate to pursue legal action against any liable third parties if necessary in order to ensure all of those responsible for the death of your loved one are held accountable. Our attorneys have either negotiated settlements with, or won lawsuits against, every major insurance company in the United States, so their high-powered operatives are well aware of our courtroom acumen. As a result, there are many times and insurers will choose to make our clients a reasonable settlement offer rather than risk losing a much larger amount of money in a lawsuit. And if they choose not to engage in negotiations, we’ll be well prepared to face them in court and make them regret that decision. If you have lost a family member due to a fatal construction accident, call our Law Office as soon as you can (toll-free) for a free and confidential consultation with an experienced wrongful death attorney and find out how we can help you get the justice and fair restitution your family deserves.
Trench Collapse Attorney
Construction Injury Attorneys Of Our Law Office Discuss Trench Collapse Lawsuits
It is common knowledge that construction work is inherently dangerous, especially when workers and employers don’t proactively work together on job site safety issues. And one of the particularly dangerous types of accidents in construction is trench collapse.
The majority of trench collapse accidents are fatal, and if the victim happens to survive, he or she is often left with catastrophic, life-long injuries. The trench collapse attorneys from our Law Office compiled this article to highlight how trench collapse wrongful death accident lawsuits operate and how our competent attorneys can assist you in pursuing justice.
While this article explains these concepts in simple terms, trench collapse accidents are quite complex and usually result in highly technical lawsuits. A non-attorney would have a very difficult task if they attempted to file this lawsuit alone. Don’t fall for this trap. Call the legal experts at our Law Office to arrange a free consultation, and we will explain specifically what options you have available and what challenges you will likely face.
How Do Trench Collapse Accidents Happen?
Most trench collapse accidents result from construction site employers not following standard safety guidelines. OHSA, the Occupational Health & Safety Administration establishes clear guidelines that govern how trench walls should be reinforced, how far apart the support structures should be spaced, and how the trench should be dug. These regulations are set forth to make trenches much safer, but building a trench safely is a time-consuming and expensive task, and many construction companies are more focused on increasing profits than protecting the lives of construction workers. Trench collapse accidents also can result from faulty equipment used in reinforcing the trench. Despite the reasons why the accident occurred, odds are it was the result of someone’s negligence, and you are entitled to fair compensation.
Damages Commonly Found in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
We understand no amount of money can ever compensate you for the loss of your loved one. We also know when a loved one dies, in addition to the emotional upheaval, a family is often put under extreme financial stress and pressure. Our attorneys want to make sure you do not suffer under needless financial hardship and that you have the opportunity to seek justice for the loss of your family member. We will use all our knowledge and resources to help you receive the greatest possible settlement.
There are two different types of claims in comprehensive wrongful death lawsuits: wrongful death damages and survival damages. These claims must be filed separately and tailored for the specific plaintiff filing the claim. Plaintiffs seek wrongful death damages for their own suffering resulting from the victim’s death. Any eligible family member may file these claims and there is no limit to the number of wrongful death claims that can be filed. Wrongful death damages usually include the following:
Loss of financial support previously provided by the victim
Medical and funeral bills
Mental or emotional turmoil
Loss of companionship or consortium
On the other hand, survival damages, basically allow a family member to stand in proxy for the victim in a legal sense and seek compensation for the damages which the victim could have pursued if they survived the accident and were alive. Survival damages often include the following:
Lost potential income due to catastrophic injuries
Lost wages from time spent away from work
The victim’s physical pain and mental anguish
The Wrongful Death Attorneys From our Law Office is Ready to Help You
Wrongful death lawsuits are quite complex, and when they involve construction accidents, even more so. This is not the type of lawsuit you should attempt to file alone without legal representation. You need to enlist an experienced, competent attorney into the fray because workers’ comp insurance is very complex in these cases, and it can make the process much more involved. Overall, your case will be held to a higher standard of proof if the victim’s employer was a workers’ comp subscriber because you will have to convince a jury the defendant was grossly negligent in the death of your loved one.
Our Texas attorneys have won hundreds of construction accident cases. Call us today to discuss your case.
In addition, trench collapse accidents frequently involve multiple different defendants because of the use of defective equipment to build or reinforce a trench on the worksite. In this scenario, in addition to the wrongful death suit filed against your loved one’s employer, you will also be filing a product liability suit. This is a completely separate claim that must be filed employing entirely different legal techniques. For those without extensive legal experience, this process could easily become overwhelming.
For over two decades, the legal professionals at our Law Office have been helping families pursue justice in construction accidents that took the life of their loved one. We will conduct an extensive investigation at the accident scene to determine precisely what occurred and who was responsible. We’ll then build a comprehensive lawsuit and bring charges against all liable parties to hold them accountable for their negligent actions. We’ll do everything within our power to secure a fair settlement for you.
Our legal firm knows how to interact with insurance adjusters and converse with juries. We have handled hundreds of on-the-job accident cases and trench collapse mishaps. We are very familiar with Texas injury law and workers’ compensation insurance and its intricacies, so are not surprised by new developments. Insurance companies are familiar with our reputation and successful track record, and many times cooperate fully with our settlement demands so they don’t have to face our attorneys in court later. We can help you avoid the common pitfalls that many fall into and help you secure the justice you seek. If you’ve lost someone you love in a trench collapse accident or other work-related accident, don’t allow those responsible to go unpunished. Call the trench collapse attorneys at our Law Office toll-free for a free consultation. Our wrongful death lawyers can help you get the compensation you are entitled to and the justice you deserve so that you can move ahead with your life.
Lifting Accidents & Back Injuries
IF You Have a Workplace Back Injury Or Are Suffering From a Job Site Lifting Injury, The Work Accident Attorneys At Our Law Office Can Be Of Service.
Our wrongful death and personal injury attorneys have over twenty years of experience handling cases involving worksite back and lifting injuries. If you’ve been harmed while employed doing heavy lifting for your employer, it’s very possible you may have a cause for legal action in which you can receive justice and compensation for your employer’s negligence.
Should you be considering retaining a lawyer to help you in pursuing an insurance claim or if you are considering a legal action related to your on-the-job injury, then the skilled, experienced, and aggressive personal injury attorneys at our Law Office can aid you in receiving full and fair compensation for your lifting injury. Even in what many consider to be “simple” cases, retaining the services of a skilled attorney is often a good move since the first instinct of most insurance companies is to try to prove your claim lacks merit. With over twenty years of experience in handling personal injury claims concerning lifting injuries, our legal team can aid you with detailed information that can in the end help you receive full and fair compensation for your pain and suffering.
The Problem With Doing It Yourself
Many people mistakenly assume that because some work-related injuries seem simple and superficial, it follows then that receiving fair compensation should be a rather simple and straightforward matter. Most people believe that if you hurt yourself while in the performance of your work, then the employer’s insurance will recompense you with little fuss, yet what most Texans don’t know is that this is often rarely the case. There are numerous factors that happen behind closed doors (that many people would be somewhat shocked to know) when it comes to workplace lifting injuries. The biggest shock comes when dealing with Texas workmans’ compensation insurance.
Texas Workmans’ Compensation Insurance in Truth Protects Employers
The primary reason employers carry workers’ comp insurance is not to provide quality insurance for their employees, but to protect themselves from lawsuits brought against them by injured employees. Employees who have received back or other injuries while at work will in all likelihood be compensated for their lifting injuries and lost income through workmans’ compensation insurance, but the reality is that most compensation realized through the workers’ comp program is usually far from adequate, and usually not enough to cover the injured employee’s true losses. But just because your employer is enrolled in workman’s compensation, doesn’t mean that you can’t seek relief and truly fair compensation. The work accident attorneys at our Law Office can aid you in determining whether there is another party or other parties who may be responsible for your work-related lifting injury, and if another party or other parties are involved they may hold partial responsibility for your claim. For example, if you were injured lifting stock off of a manual pallet jack and the pallet jack is somehow faulty or poorly designed, then the manufacturer of the jack may carry partial liability for your injury and pain. In addition to your workers’ comp payout, whatever damages the manufacturer is responsible for will be added to your total compensation.
More Employers Than You Would Guess Lie About Carrying Workers’ Compensation
Because workers’ compensation insurance has such a good reputation and can truly protect employers from lawsuits, many employers who do not choose to subscribe to the program simply lie about carrying the insurance. Our Law Office has seen this ploy numerous times. Owing to our experience in working with workmans’ comp cases, we are very, very good at determining employers’ claims about belonging to this State of Texas program. In the possibility that your employer does not belong to workers’ comp, we can aid you in filing a personal injury lawsuit to ensure that you receive full and fair compensation for your lifting injuries.
Texas workers’ compensation law exempts contract employees from enjoying certain rights and privileges enjoyed by regular employees. Because of this fact, many employers believe they can shirk their employer obligations and duties by hiring what are known as “contract” workers. What this means is that if an employer deems you to be a contract worker, then certain necessary conditions required to form an employer-employee relationship for legitimate workmans’ comp insurance claims are dissolved. It follows in this scenario that a contract worker who suffers an on-the-job back injury is not covered by workman’s comp or any other employer insurance. By hiring contract employees, many employers mistakenly assume that they are then not responsible for any back injuries that happen to contract workers because they are not addressed in Texas workers’ compensation law.
These employers are deceived, however. Our Law Office has over twenty years of experience has taught us that when dealing with workers’ compensation law and cases, we are usually able to establish that a true employer-employee relationship existed, even if you were hired on as a contract employee, even if you sign a document stating that this is the case or if the employer hires you under that condition. Texas law is unclear regarding the status of a general employee, so there are a number of ways to show your relationship to be one of a regular employee. For example, if your employer withholds federal income tax and Social Security, or if you have to sign and abide by an employee handbook and take mandatory drug testing, Texas law will consider you a regular employee, no matter if you were hired as a contractor. There are many other ways to show that you may be a regular employee, and our extensive experience has taught us every aspect to prove that a traditional employer-employee relationship exists. We can cut through your employer’s terminology to hold your employer liable for your back injury or other harms. Many cases such as these are turned down by many law firms due to technicalities such as these, but by speaking to one of our work accident attorneys about your back injury, we likely may be able to show your status as a regular employee and hold your employer accountable, and/or find other third parties who may also be responsible for your lifting injuries.
Our Law Office Can Help With Cases Involving Lifting Injuries
If you’ve suffered a workplace back or lifting injury, then you may be entitled to full and fair compensation for your injury. It is wise to act as soon as possible and contact a work injury attorney at our Law Office. You can call us toll-free so that we can begin to build a solid case for you so you can begin to seek full and fair compensation for your lifting injury. We will perform a thorough and detailed investigation of the mishap scene and we will comb through your medical history to establish that your employer’s carelessness, recklessness, or other negligence is in fact the source of your injury. With over twenty years of experience in working these cases, we can demonstrate that your harm could have been caused by a lack of or poor training, a lack of satisfactory safety equipment, or the unavailability of a coworker to aid you in the performance of your job. These cases are never as easy as they seem on the surface.
Our Law Office has negotiated with or litigated against every major insurance corporation in the United States, and their defense attorneys and adjusters are more than familiar with our name and reputation. In many instances, they’ve offered our clients full and fair out-of-court settlements rather than fight us in a court of law. They know we are more than able to win court cases dealing with back or lifting injuries. We and our clients prefer this outcome because it saves all of us time and money and it allows our clients to begin to rebuild their lives. But should the case go to court, you should know that one of our work accident attorneys will dedicate his or her services to do everything to ensure that you receive full and fair compensation for your injuries.
Workers’ Compensation Attorney
A Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help You: Contact One Of our Law Office’s Texas Workers’ Comp Lawyers
On-the-job accidents are an everyday occurrence. Every day, hundreds of Texans are harmed or injured while performing their employment, and in many cases, these work-related mishaps cause severe injury, and in rare instances, these accidents may even be fatal.
Employment-related mishaps and injuries are not limited to dangerous industries like construction and industrial manufacturing. These injuries can be had while doing the seemingly safest of tasks like manning a counter at a convenience store or operating a cash register at a theatre. These injuries can occur and happen in any number of infinite ways.
Workers’ Compensation law in Texas is designed to protect employees who are somehow harmed and injured while at the workplace. The law is to protect workers who are injured due to an employer who is negligent, careless and/or reckless in providing a safe and secure working environment for its employees, and the law allows employees to be compensated for medical injuries and for lost wages while the employee recovers or rehabilitates from his or her injuries. The problem, however, is that a myth has arisen around the ease of collecting workers’ comp benefits. What most Texans don’t know is that most employers contest and attempt to deny or minimize workers’ compensation claims, and most Texans don’t also know that trying to receive lawful and rightful compensation can be a long and very difficult process. The burden of proof for demonstrating that the employer is negligent and liable for your work-related injuries falls squarely on the shoulders of the harmed employee. You will take on insurance company legal defense teams as you try to prove your claim and this can be a very arduous undertaking. It follows that you will need the help of a skilled, aggressive, and experienced Workers’ compensation attorney to aid you in receiving the rightful and fair compensation to which you are entitled. The attorneys at our Law Office can inform you of your legal alternatives and courses of action to help you attain your rightful claim.
What Kind of Workplace Mishap Claim do you Have?
Texas law does not demand that employers carry or purchase workers’ compensation, and employers are given a choice on whether to opt-out of the program. Texas employers can provide workman’s compensation, or they can purchase general liability or supplemental insurance from a private insurance corporation. This means that compensation for a work-related injury will be determined by whether the employer subscribes to workers’ comp (these are known, therefore, as subscribers), or whether employers purchase insurance from privately-held corporations outside of the workers’ comp program (these are called non-subscribers).
When an employer purchases workman’s compensation, he or she buys more than simple insurance, the reality is also that they are buying insurance against being sued by harmed or injured employees. Texas law protects subscribing employers from lawsuits because Texas workers’ compensation law, except in very specific circumstances, prevents employees from suing their employers should they have been injured in an on-the-job accident or mishap. Workers’ compensation is designed to compensate injured employees for medical expenses and lost wages while the injured employee is recovering or rehabilitating from the harm. Nevertheless, workmans’ compensation insurance carriers should be viewed and understood as you would view any other business: the carriers exist to make money and increase profits, and many times they will do so at the expense of paying accident victims fair compensation. To save money or increase profitability, these insurance carriers will do what they can to deny or minimize injured worker’s claims and compensation. Each year hundreds of Texans are denied their fair and rightful compensation for their injuries and losses. Though workers’ compensation protects employers from lawsuits, in many cases filing a legal action is the only way injured workers have to receive their rightful and just compensation. If you’ve been injured in a worksite accident, a skilled and experienced workers’ compensation attorney from our Law Office can let you know if your situation allows you to take legal action against a negligent employer to secure your full and fair compensation
An experienced attorney will use one of two exceptions to worker compensation law that permit legal actions to be filed for a worksite accident, mishap, or death, even though the employer subscribes to workers’ compensation. If gross negligence on the part of the employer results in an employee’s death, his family can file a wrongful death claim for the work-related accident.
Furthermore, it is entirely possible that the work-related mishap or fatality is a result of actions and negligence by third parties. In many cases, third parties such as shippers, trucking companies, contractors, vendors, parts manufacturers, suppliers, etc., may have partial or complete liability for an on-the-job accident. In order to successfully identify all the responsible parties for your pain and suffering will require the knowledge of an extremely experienced attorney. Our Law Office workers’ compensation attorneys have over twenty years of experience investigating and wining workplace personal injury and wrongful death claims and they’ve mastered the art of identifying all responsible parties and holding them accountable for their carelessness, recklessness, and negligence.
Non-subscribing employers, also known as non-subscribers, are those employers who do not purchase state-sanctioned workers’ compensation insurance. The procedures and process for filing claims and seeking compensation from non-subscribers are fundamentally different than when dealing with subscriber employers, and it can be a very torturous ordeal.
The primary difference between the two types of employers is that an employee who has suffered a workplace injury while employed by a non-subscriber is that he or she can easily file a legal action against their employer for their pain and suffering. The arena for action, so to speak, for these cases usually moves to the courtroom instead of in a workers’ comp administrative bureaucracy. Because these claims are settled in a court of law, this arena tends to favor an injured employee who can retain an aggressive and experienced attorney. Be that as it may, a workmans’ comp lawsuit is almost never an easy battle. An injured employee who works for a non-subscriber has more legal rights, but that doesn’t mean he or she has the experience and understanding to prosecute their own cases. The law involved is too complex for a non-lawyer to comprehend, so it is necessary for an experienced and trial-tested workers’ compensation attorney to take your case and give you a much-increased chance of recovering the full and fair compensation you need to recover from your injuries and for your pain and suffering.
To start, you have to first file a claim with your employer. If you and your employer do not reach an agreement regarding a plan of action in regard to your claim and compensation, then you must file a lawsuit to seek the compensation you need for your injuries and losses. The problem is that once your case goes to trial, you bear the burden of proof for showing your harms and suffering are due to your employer’s carelessness or negligence in providing a safe work environment. Further, it is your responsibility to “prove” how much monetary compensation you deserve in terms of lost and future lost wages, medical expenses, emotional distress, and pain and suffering.
Texas law allows for a lower threshold to demonstrate the burden of proof and employer liability in non-subscriber claims so as to punish employers for not signing on to Texas workers’ comp. This fact generally works in favor of injured and harmed employees.
Frequent Problems in Nonsubscriber Work Injury Cases
There is only one defense for employers to evade responsibility for a workers’ comp claim and that is the “sole proximate cause” defense. What this defense argues is that the injured or harmed employee is wholly and completely responsible for his or her own pain and suffering due to his or her own carelessness, recklessness and/or negligence. The Texas Workers’ Compensation Act of 1993 had the intent of protecting businesses and give them protection against expensive injured workers’ lawsuits. Texas workmans’ comp law is in part created to punish non-subscribers in order to persuade these employers to buy state-sanctioned insurance in the hope of reducing the amount of work-related injury lawsuits that were clogging up the Texas judicial system’s resources and further protect injured employees while offering more Texas employees coverage. The only defense left to non-subscribers is the sole proximate cause defense.
Since this is the only allowable defense for non-subscriber employers, they use this defense in almost every case. In order for an employer to prove sole proximate cause, they will take whatever underhanded measures they can to show to the judge and jury that you were the cause of your own harms and injuries.
Though non-subscriber employers took the risk to opt-out of workmans’ compensation insurance to save money and assets, you can almost guarantee that they will spend their profits and use their assets to hire aggressive and skilled defense teams to protect their businesses and corporate interests. Their defense teams will devote all of their energies to proving your carelessness in the workplace so they can deny or minimize the compensation that is rightfully yours for your harms and injuries.
Employers and their insurance carriers will attempt to bully you into accepting a minimal and far less than adequate settlement that will not cover your medical expenses and lost wages resulting from your accident. They know how to deceive and influence work accident victims by convincing them that the insurers in fact truly have the victim’s situation and interest at heart and that the proposed settlement is not only fair, but the best one the victim could possibly get. The reality is however, they are only concerned with saving money for the employers and their insurance carriers, with the intent of protecting their own assets at the price of your own well-being.
Texas law admits of only one other option for employers to get out of paying workplace injury claims, and that is to deny the existence of an employer-employee relationship with those injured in the workplace. If the injured worker is in truth not a “real” employee, then the employer in question cannot be expected to pay employer benefits to those who are not on the regular company payroll. Many employers will conceal and complicate the nature of the relationship with certain workers who are not regular employees. For example, many employers contract out work to vendors, builders, truckers, security personnel, etc. and classify these workers as contractors. State law does not compel non-subscriber employees to provide the same safety standards to contract employees. It follows that by denying this as an employer-employee relationship, employers avoid responsibility for the harms and injuries contract workers receive in the workplace.
What is a Contract Employee?
It is much more difficult to claim that no employer-employee relationship exists with contract workers than trying to prove a sole proximate cause claim since these claims are rather easily dismissed. Before any work agreement is signed, employers will attempt to show you that you are not an employee, and in the event of a workplace injury, employers will immediately begin to try to convince you that you were never part of their workforce. They use language to confuse the relationship; they hire you as a “contractor,” to show you that you do not have certain rights and protections, yet they have you do all the work of regular employees. If you are somehow harmed or injured in their workplace, they will then be able to argue that they are not liable for your injuries and thus they can avoid paying you compensation. Employers may think that certain employees are contractors, but Texas law may classify you in truth as an employee, with the result that they are in fact liable for injuries and harms you’ve suffered in the workplace. They may in fact be liable for your medical expenses and lost and lost future wages.
So that an injured worker can receive compensation for his or her injuries, the harmed employee in this situation also carries the burden of proof to establish an employer-employee relationship. A skilled, aggressive, and experienced workers’ compensation attorney has access to over twenty years experience to help you prove that an employer-employee relationship existed with your non-subscriber employer and our Law Office workers’ comp lawyers can help you receive full and fair compensation that is your right.
Texas law holds you to be an employee if one or a few of the following conditions are met:
The employer in question withholds taxes and Social Security from your paycheck.
The employer in question provides all the necessary equipment for your work.
The employer in question expects you to abide by a specific work schedule and work for defined periods of time.
The employer in question managed, guided and inspected your work during your work shift.
The employer in question has you give up some of your traditional employee rights by signing a document or contract you to mandatory drug testing or signing a confirmation that you’ve received and read an employee handbook.
The employer in question has hired you for an indefinite period of time and not just for a single job.
The employer in question pays you an hourly wage or salary and not on a case-by-case basis.
Our Law Office workers’ compensation attorneys will depose and interview your coworkers and examine any material evidence that can establish the existence of an employer-employee relationship–whether our attorneys have to comb through employment contracts, pay stubs, time cards, and other forms of solid evidence.
OSHA Cannot Help You
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, known as OSHA is a federal government agency charged with setting minimum safety standards for all employers in the United States. OSHA’s mandate is valuable; it is to ensure the health and safety of employees in the workplace by updating standards and punishing employers for violating federal health and safety regulations. OSHA’s mandate however, is very limited in scope and it can provide no assistance to you in the event of a workplace accident or injury. OSHA suffers from limited resources and budget constraints, so its investigative ability is hampered and diminished, and its enforcement regime is long outdated. OSHA generally does not arrive at workplace accident sites until long after the incident or injury has happened, and its federally determined fines for employers have not been increased in decades. These facts do not give employers incentive to improve the safety of working conditions.
OSHA’s only influence is in helping employers avoid future accidents and injuries by providing regulations and guidelines after the fact. After an accident or injury has occurred, OSHA investigators will write a report with recommendations to improve workplace safety, and then follow up on the employer’s actions to follow OSHA’s recommendations. OSHA’s report will contain no specific evidence of aid to you and OSHA does not rule on accident liability as such. OSHA’s sole focus is to improve the safety and health of workplace conditions.
Simply stated, OSHA’s mandate is not to help you prove your case and secure you your rightful and fair compensation. Only a workers’ compensation lawyer can help you seek and receive the necessary compensation you need to recover and rebuild your life.
What Can I Do?
It is critical that you do not sign away your right to take legal action in exchange for the minimal compensation you will be offered. As we just mentioned, most employers and their insurance carriers will try to convince or manipulate you into taking an insignificant settlement offer. You should not even discuss your accident with your employer or his insurance carrier without the presence of your attorney.
It is of the utmost importance that you move quickly to find a reputable attorney so that he or she can begin to gather and examine all available evidence. The usefulness and integrity of evidence begin to decay quickly immediately after an accident happens: witnesses lose memory, surveillance video gets erased or reused, pay stubs and accident logs get thrown away or lost, broken machinery or blood gets fixed or cleaned up; the list is endless. If you wait too long to retain the services of an attorney, you could be doing incalculable harm to your case and claim, and you may lose the ability to receive your full and fair compensation.
The workers’ comp attorneys at our Law Office have been aiding injured Texans receive the compensation that is their right for over twenty years. We have a reputation for protecting our client’s rights and helping them to receive their rightful compensation for their injuries and losses.
In order to determine whether your employer is a subscriber or non-subscriber, and/or if Texas law considers you an employee and what your potential worker’s rights are, call us toll-free for a free consultation and to discuss your potential legal alternatives and to let you know if we can help you to begin to rebuild your life.
Fatal Work Accident Attorney
If You Need Information From A Texas Wrongful Death Lawyer: Our Fatal Work Accident Attorneys Can Help You With Workplace Wrongful Death Lawsuits
One of the most tragic and overwhelming experiences a family can endure is losing a loved one in a workplace accident. Family members of a deadly work-related mishap may wish to seek justice by initiating a wrongful death legal action, but in their grief, they may not know where to turn.
Because a fatality is involved, wrongful death lawsuits are very difficult and complicated, and work injury jurisprudence only makes these cases additionally technical. Wrongful death claims are a type of legal action that you do not want to engage in on your own; you will need the aid and expertise of an experienced and skillful attorney. Our fatal work accident attorneys can inform you regarding how these lawsuits are prosecuted, what difficulties you will face, and how the fatal work accident attorneys at our Law Office can help you seek and attain the justice and compensation that is rightfully yours.
Familiar Types of Lethal Job Site Accidents
Most deadly worksite accidents occur in dangerous occupations like heavy construction, heavy industry, working oil rigs, and the like, but no workplace is immune from a fatal accident. Job site fatalities can happen nearly any place and at any time, and they can be caused by drivers, by careless, reckless and/or negligent coworkers, by an unsafe work area, or by merely tripping on a stair. In nearly every on-the-job mishap or incident, and whether someone is killed or not, the injured worker or his or her loved ones can seek compensation through various means, and this is almost always an arduous process. With each accident, there are a number of factors that affect the way the case must be dealt with, and many questions must be answered before you can choose from alternative plans of action. For example, did the owner of the workplace carry workers’ compensation or not? Was the employer grossly negligent in providing a safe and secure job site? Was your family member a regular employee or a contractor? Are there any responsible third parties? Your legal options will change as each of these, and many more, questions are answered, and your legal choices must be made to address each and every issue. As we mentioned above, filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim can be exceedingly complex and time-consuming, even well before litigation becomes an option.
Why Are Workplace Accidents So Complicated?
Deadly workplace accident lawsuits in Texas are made much more difficult due to the fact that the state allows workers’ compensation insurance. Workmans’ comp is not a standard insurance policy in that it is supported by and highly regulated by the state. Yes, workers’ comp insurance usually does provide settlements to injured workers and their loved ones, but these settlements are rather small and they are usually not even close to being sufficient compensation for one’s injuries or for the deceased’s bereaved family. But what most Texans do not know about workers’ comp, is that it was signed into law in order to protect businesses and corporations from lawsuits. After decades of pro-business interest lobbying, lawmakers put significant barriers in place in order to prevent injured employees or their families from easily pursuing litigation against careless, reckless, or otherwise negligent employers. In order to take legal action against a negligent employer for a personal injury or wrongful death suit, very specific conditions have to be met. Most non-lawyers are unaware that these types of cases are very exclusive. It is just a fact that if workmans’ comp insurance is not taken into consideration in your instance, you simply will not be successful. Fortunately, our very experienced and aggressive fatal work accident attorneys are extremely skilled in handling workman’s compensation issues and can ensure that your family receives both justice and full and fair compensation.
Gross Negligence MUST be Proven in A Fatal Workplace Accident
There are two basic standards of negligence to consider when considering a deadly worksite accident legal action, and they are gross negligence and standard negligence. If the employer in question does not subscribe to workers’ comp insurance, then the standard you will need to meet is standard negligence in order to receive compensation for your loss and suffering. But, should your loved one have been killed in a worksite where the employer carries workmans’ compensation insurance (these employers are called subscribers), in order for the employer to be found responsible for your family member’s death, you must be able to show gross negligence. The standard of proof to establish gross negligence is considerably higher than to show standard negligence, and in order to prove gross negligence, you must have an absolutely concrete case. Most non-lawyers and many attorneys without considerable experience many times will make tiny mistakes when pursuing these claims, mistakes that will let a negligent employer escape responsibility for their careless part in the accident. But what is important that you should know is that it is not a concern if the employer was negligent or not. In fact, the employer in question can admit to being negligent, and he or she may even admit that the employer’s negligence led to the death of your family member, but it will not matter if you cannot establish gross negligence. Most non and inexperienced lawyers do not know this, and they believe that just because an employer admits to being negligent, the case is already won. Never believe this.
The difference between the two standards of negligence has to do with the egregiousness of the negligence. Normally, standard negligence is basically a simple mistake or a fleeting slip in paying attention that causes the mishap and injury. For example, a roofer sets a ladder upon unstable ground and causes another roofer to fall off of the ladder. In this case, generally, the employer can be held responsible by a legal principle known as respondeat superior. Respondeat superior means that an employer can be held responsible for the actions of his or her employees, and in this example, the employer likely would be found guilty of standard negligence. An employee made a simple mistake due to an error in judgment and as a result, caused a job-site injury, but this is not gross negligence.
Let’s take a different example. Now we will assume that the employee in question has a history of ladder accidents due to careless or reckless behavior and several employees have been hurt by his actions, and he has demonstrated that he simply does not care about safe ladder placement. It becomes safe to assume that this worker should not be allowed to place ladders for other roofers to use, since you can also assume more accidents will happen. Now if another worker is injured or killed due to a ladder accident where this employee had a hand in placement, then it is likely that this employer can be found guilty of gross negligence since the accident was foreseeable (since this employee has a history of ladder placement accidents) and preventable (the employer could simply prohibit this employee from placing the company’s ladders). Since the employer did not take active measures to improve job-site safety by banning this employee from placing ladders, the employer then becomes liable for gross negligence.
We can take another example and consider electrocution when laying power lines. If the electrocution was caused by some sort of bizarre incident that no one could even foresee, and if all the workers were following necessary safety and security protocols, then the electric company would more than likely not be found guilty of gross negligence, and the incident would be nothing more than a tragic mishap. But however, if workers and foremen repeatedly warned their employer about unsafe protocols and procedures, and if experts in laying power lines had warned that certain procedures and practices were unsound, then you can almost be assured the electric company would be responsible for gross negligence.
Contact our Fatal Work Accident Attorneys to Discuss Your Situation
The undertaking of proving gross negligence is usually very difficult. And very often, the success of wrongful death lawsuits comes down to a painstakingly thorough and detailed examination of the accident site, through the in-depth interviews with witnesses and by testimony from experts in the applicable topic. Non and inexperienced lawyers just do not know, nor do they have the resources to build the necessary concrete case and then present the facts and evidence in such a way that is admissible to a court of law. Even though this is difficult enough, you must also consider that the negligent employer’s legal defense team will be doing everything in its power to defend the negligent employer while at the same time proving that your loved one is the guilty and negligent party.
Our Law Office attorneys are dedicated to ensuring that you and your family receive the justice and full and fair compensation that you deserve for your loss and pain and suffering. We will do whatever we can to help you prove your case, whether you need us to negotiate a just settlement, litigate in court, or simply answer your questions. We have over twenty years of experience in the courtroom, in conducting detailed and thorough investigations and resolving personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. We have won hundreds of court actions against every major insurance carrier in the United States. Insurance carrier defense teams know of our success and reputation, and they usually are very cooperative with our legal teams so they do not have to meet us in a court of law. Put simply, we have the skill, experience, and know-how to level the playing field between you and powerful corporate and insurance legal defense teams; and we can help you receive the justice and rightful compensation for your loved one’s death and your resulting loss. If you’ve lost a family member in a workplace mishap, call us toll-free for a free legal consultation to discuss your settlement and legal alternatives, and to help you attain the justice that is your right.
Workers Comp Lawyer
If You are Looking for a Workers’ Comp Attorney, Call our Law Office
A seasoned and effective workers’ comp lawyer can be of a great deal of help to you should you suffer an injury resulting from a workplace accident. And these kinds of accidents come in many varieties; some can be relatively minor, where you can return to work either immediately after a small amount of treatment or the next day.
Others can be catastrophic, and lead to months – if not years – of extensive rehabilitation and keep you out of work for a very, very long period of time. In some instances, this kind of injury can mean you will never be able to return to work. Should you experience a work-related injury, there may be a chance that you can get just restitution for the physical and emotional trauma you are going through.
Workplace accidents often occur without any warning, and with devastating consequences. They can be caused by malfunctioning or faulty equipment, negligence on the part of the company or a fellow worker, or some other entity, and can involve falls, vehicle accidents, body parts entrapped in machinery, falling debris, or many other different circumstances that can cause a great deal of personal harm. In Texas, the law states that, if an accident occurs, the employer could be held liable for your injuries and the expenses and other unfortunate consequences that result from the accident. But there are a lot of things that people may assume concerning these kinds of events; one of the most common being that the employer or the employer’s insurance company will choose to “do the right thing” and compensate that worker for any losses he or she may incur. The cold fact is, however, that oftentimes this could not be further from the truth. Most of the time quite the opposite takes place – the employer and insurer will try and deny workers’ injury claims, thus leaving them on their own to deal with the crushing financial burdens created by the accident.
When a company or insurance provider chooses to fight a claim, the result is usually a lawsuit filed by the worker in order to get fair restitution for the physical, mental and monetary costs associated with the accident. In these cases, the worker filing the claim – referred to as the “plaintiff” in legal parlance – has to carry the burden of proof. In other words, he or she has to prove that the negligence of the employer or another entity led to the accident. If that injured worker is you, it is imperative that you immediately get in touch with an experienced workers comp lawyer who can help you meet that burden of proof and prevail against those responsible for your injury.
You will notice a theme throughout this article – the critical importance of you seeking experienced legal representation. We will stress this point repeatedly; it really can’t be stressed enough. There is an incredible number of hurdles that you, the plaintiff, will have to surmount in order to successfully pursue personal injury litigation. These hurdles will make your case extremely complex. If you have a novice lawyer, or worse yet, you try to take on this litigation on your own, your chances of winning are basically nil.
It could prove to be the worst mistake you’ll ever make; if you leave that courtroom a loser, then you will be responsible for all of your medical expenses. That could lead to financial ruin. The workers’ comp lawyers with our Law Office have two decades of experience in handling personal injury cases involved with workers’ compensation claims. We are extremely adept at helping injury victims get the just restitution they deserve for their injuries and we can help you navigate through all the legal complexities you will face, and thoroughly explain all legal options you have.
Is My Employer a Workers Compensation Insurance Subscriber?
The answer to the above question may be the most important one surrounding your case. There are many states in this country that require companies to pay for, or “subscribe to,” workers’ compensation insurance. Texas, however, does not. A lot of companies in Texas choose to subscribe to workers comp insurance, even though it can be very expensive. The reason is the protection from lawsuits workers comp insurance provides, as will be explained in detail later. Companies that choose not to purchase workers comp insurance are known as “non-subscribers,” and they are much more exposed to litigation than is a subscribing company, as you will see later in this article. Whatever the case, it is vital to ascertain whether your employer is a subscriber or a non-subscriber. You must seek legal assistance in order for you to completely comprehend the rights you have, and to determine the best legal avenue to pursue. While your litigation will differ greatly depending on whether your employer is a subscriber or non-subscriber, both kinds of cases will be filled with complexities and intricacies that inexperienced lawyers and legal laymen will find extremely daunting, to say the least. We know how to pursue litigation no matter what side of the workers’ comp fence your company resides.
How Does an Employer Benefit from Workers Comp?
The benefits to an employer from being a subscriber to workers’ compensation insurance can be enormous, as was touched on earlier. Basically, a subscriber is buying much more than just an insurance policy; it’s buying lawsuit protection. An injured worker cannot sue a subscribing company. Workers comp can provide some compensation to an injured employee to help cover a portion of medical expenses and lost pay, but the amount provided normally doesn’t come close to paying for all the medical bills an injured worker accrues and is woefully inadequate in covering lost wages. And just because you suffer a workplace injury, that does not automatically guarantee that you’ll get even that relative pittance. Workers comp payments come from the insurance provider, and many times that insurer will be determined to deny a claim and thus not have to pay anything to the injured worker. At the very least, that insurer will do whatever it can to pay the least amount of money it can possibly get away with. There are several instances in Texas every year where an injured worker’s injury claim is denied flat-out thanks to the efforts of an extremely aggressive insurance provider. But an experienced workers comp lawyer can work to ensure you do not have to suffer a similar injustice.
Even though a subscribing company is shielded from a lawsuit, there are other legal methods you can employ to get fair restitution for your injury. There may be an exception that applies to your case that may allow you to take legal action against your employer, or you may be able to take action against a responsible third party, such as the manufacturer of a defective piece of equipment that may have led to the accident that caused your injury.
Exceptions in Workers Comp Cases
There are two very important exceptions regarding the workers’ compensation system that may help workplace accident victims or their families seek fair restitution. First, if a workplace accident occurs on a workers comp subscriber’s job site, and it results in the death of a worker, and it can be proven that the employer’s gross negligence led to the death, then the victim’s family can file a wrongful death lawsuit against that employer.
And for workers who suffer an injury, there may be a way to pursue legal action against another party. There could be multiple persons or entities to blame for the injury; a contractor, fellow employee, or an outside third party could have caused the accident. The workers’ comp lawyers at our Law Office know how to thoroughly explore all aspects of your case to identify and pursue legal action against those responsible third parties and find other means of obtaining compensation for injury victims.
What Happens if My Employer is a Workers Comp Non-Subscriber?
Personal injury litigation involving a claim filed by a worker against a non-subscriber workplace in a completely different manner than those regarding subscribing companies. When the Texas Legislature enacted workers comp law, it did so with the intention of trying to lighten the burdens of an incredibly overwhelmed state legal system. The thinking was, if the instances of worker’s injury lawsuits could be lessened, the entire legal system might be able to work much more efficiently. That’s why subscribers are shielded from lawsuits involving the workplace. Consequently, the law looks unfavorably toward companies that choose not to subscribe to workers comp insurance. You can say the law, in effect, “punishes” non-subscribers to leaving them wide open to personal injury litigation. It is far easier for injured workers to gain just restitution for medical expenses, lost pay, and pain and suffering from a non-subscribing company than it is a subscriber. The obvious difference is that an injured worker can sue a non-subscriber. And since there is no workers compensation claim to file in this kind of case, a victim will not be subjected to the onerous bureaucracy associated with the workers’ comp claims process.
But while it may seem like a slam-dunk, that it would be very simple to win a personal injury lawsuit against a non-subscriber, in reality, it’s not. A plaintiff, in this case, does, indeed, have more rights. But that in no way means the process is an easy one. These kinds of cases have a lot of complexity surrounding them; and experienced attorneys – by either working for the defense to minimize compensation awarded or for the plaintiff to increase compensation – can use these complexities to the benefit of their client. The attorneys at our Law Office are extremely familiar with non-subscriber personal injury litigation and can put that experience to use for you in making sure you are fairly compensated for the injury you have suffered due to the negligence of your employer.
Sometimes a claim can be resolved amicably out of court. Many times, however, that doesn’t happen and a lawsuit gets filed as a result. As stated before, when a case goes to trial, the plaintiff bears the burden of proof. Your side must prove the accident that led to your injury was caused by the employer’s negligence, and that you have incurred lost wages and lost future earning potential, medical expenses, and both emotional and physical pain and suffering as a result. This is another key difference in cases involving subscribing and non-subscribing defendants. In any case, involving a subscriber, “gross negligence” has to be proven – basically, the plaintiff has to prove that an employer habitually and recklessly created a hazardous workplace environment and that an injury-causing accident was inevitable. In a case involving a non-subscriber, however, the plaintiff needs only to prove “standard negligence,” meaning that someone’s momentary lack of focus led to the accident. This may be much easier to prove, but it still comes with several pitfalls.
Problems Involving Non-Subscriber Work Injury Claims
A non-subscribing company has but one legal defense tool it can use to try and defeat a personal injury claim, and it is called “sole proximate cause.” As we explained previously, a non-subscriber’s legal defense options are limited in this manner as a way of being punished for not purchasing workers’ compensation insurance. It can be exceedingly difficult for a non-subscriber to win a personal injury case as a result, and thus this can be a huge advantage to the plaintiff. But again, that is in no way meant to infer that winning such a case will be easy. As you will see, the sole proximate cause defense can lead to a highly emotional case that can leave lasting effects on both sides.
Sole Proximate Cause
The “sole proximate cause” defense means that the employer will maintain that you, the plaintiff, were solely responsible for the accident that caused your injury. If you were injured as a result of the accident, you were 100 percent to blame for your injury. And if this case goes to trial, the employer will always try and use the sole proximate cause defense. As a result, prepare for personal attacks on your reputation, because your employer will basically do whatever it can to paint you as an irresponsible, incompetent employee.
Non-subscribers aren’t stupid enough to not have insurance; in fact, those policies can be quite expensive. Therefore, you can guarantee the insurance provider will aggressively work to protect that policy. Specialized operatives will be dispatched to try and defeat your claim. These highly paid professionals aren’t like a typical insurance agent you may encounter after a little fender-bender. These are normally not very pleasant people to deal with; their only purpose is to ensure you leave the courtroom with nothing so that their insurance company’s bottom line is protected.
Those agents are but one component of the insurance company’s defense team. The other component will be a team of well-trained and highly skilled defense lawyers who will work to prove you were the sole cause of the accident that injured you. The insurance company could not care less about what you’re going through, the bills that are piling up, and the pain you’re experiencing on a daily basis. All it cares about is making money, and you are in the way of that. In order for them to continue making a profit, insurance companies work to defeat claims like yours every week; the more claims they can defeat, the higher their profit margin. By employing the services of the experienced workers’ comp lawyers at our Law Office, you will have someone on your side working in your best interests to see that you get all of the compensation you deserve.
The Employer/Employee Relationship
There may be one other method a non-subscribing company will use in order to defeat a claim. Even though it could be as flimsy as the sole proximate cause defense, it still must be taken seriously. And, it can be difficult to combat. What a non-subscriber might do to avoid having to pay your claim is to try and prove that you, in fact, were never really an employee of the company, but a contractor. If they can prove that an employer/employee relationship never existed, they can successfully avoid paying your claim. In Texas, contractors are responsible for their own safety in the workplace. Thus, if the company can prove you were a contractor, they cannot be held responsible for the accident that resulted in your injury. Our law firm has dealt with this kind of tactic many times; even if the company that hired you always saw you as a contractor, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be regarded that way in the eyes of the law. There are many ways to prove that the employer/employee relationship was in full effect at the time of your accident.
Again, though, the burden of proof lies with you, the plaintiff, in establishing that the employer/employee relationship did, in fact, exist. There are quite a few methods we use to establish that relationship. If any of the following took place, it is likely you will be considered an employee of the company in the eyes of the court.
The employer withheld Social Security or taxes from your paycheck.
You were paid either hourly or through some sort of salary: weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.
You signed a document that in any way limited your rights, such as a form stating you read and understood the company’s employee handbook, or a form stating that you agreed to submit to a company-mandated drug test.
Your employer inspected, managed, or otherwise oversaw your work on a regular basis.
Your employer established a definitive work schedule for you. For example, you had to be at work at a certain time, were only allowed breaks at certain times, and could not leave until a certain time signified the end of the workday.
Your employer, and not yourself, was responsible for providing the tools and equipment necessary for you to perform your job.
The workers’ comp lawyers at our Law Office know how to use documented evidence, such as pay stubs, other paperwork, or the testimony of co-workers, to successfully prove the existence of an employer/employee relationship. Doing so will vastly improve your chances of winning just restitution in a personal injury lawsuit involving a non-subscribing company.
Why You Can’t Count on OSHA to Help
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, is a federal agency that plays a vital role in trying to ensure the safety of workplace environments throughout the United States. You’ve probably seen their guidelines posted somewhere at your job, maybe in the break room or the main office. So seeing those guidelines may lead you to think that if you suffer some sort of work-related injury, you can count on OSHA to help you win any litigation that may take place. As important as that agency is, however, the unfortunate truth is it can’t really help you at all.
OSHA serves a vital role, but as vital as that role is in our country, the agency will be of no use to you in your case. OSHA investigators are stretched thin because of budgetary limitations, so there’s probably very little chance they will be able to be present at every workplace accident scene. Even if they do show up, however, their only role will be to put together a report on what happened and make recommendations to your employer on how to prevent such an incident from occurring again. This is typically a very general report used by the federal government, and normally not very specific to your case. And OSHA is not particularly concerned with who is to blame for the accident; all they want to do is enforce federal safety requirements and try to ensure that the accident doesn’t happen in the future.
OSHA’s main goal is deterrence, but even in this aspect, their hands are pretty well tied. OSHA can levy a fine against a company that violates safety regulations, but their fine schedule is seriously outdated. It hasn’t been updated since the 1960s. To put that into perspective, a gallon of gas didn’t even cost 50 cents back then. So OSHA fines normally don’t amount to much more than a slap on the wrist of the offender. The intentions of the agency are noble, but it doesn’t really have as much power as you may think. And as we already said, you can forget about OSHA being of any help in your personal injury case.
So You’ve Suffered a Workplace Accident Injury. What Happens Next?
The workers’ comp lawyers of our Law Office have won thousands of personal injury cases and helped injury victims just like you reap millions and millions of dollars in awards, getting the compensation they deserve for the physical and emotional trauma they’ve experienced, and the medical expenses and lost wages they’ve incurred. And we’d like the chance to do the same thing for you. As soon as you possibly can, call us toll-free for a confidential and free consultation regarding the specifics of your case. If you hire us, we will immediately launch a thorough investigation of all the aspects of your accident. Time is of the essence in doing so, because critical evidence can often disappear if it is not gathered quickly enough. And without that evidence, your chances of winning a lawsuit are greatly damaged.
One thing you should NEVER do when you’ve suffered an injury due to a workplace accident is to sign any sort of document that will eliminate your right to sue. You’d be surprised how many injury victims will fall victim to an aggressive insurance adjuster or defense lawyer and sign away their rights in exchange for a quick settlement. They soon realize the devastating mistake they’ve made, however, when they see what kind of pittance they’ve signed for; a pittance that won’t come anywhere close to providing them just compensation for the lost wages and medical bills they’ve incurred.
Do NOT let that happen to you. Call us as soon as you possibly can so that we can go over the details of your case, clearly spell out all of your legal options, and then get to work in order to ensure you get the just compensation for your injury that you deserve.