Typically, when an employee is hurt on the job, he or she is limited to the benefits available under workers’ compensation law. In some situations, however, such as when multiple contractors and subcontractors are present on a job site, it may be possible for the injured employee to file a negligence action against a third party. This, in turn, may trigger a subrogation claim by the workers’ compensation insurance company that paid out benefits to the injured worker.
The resolution of these issues can be a complex undertaking involving, among other things, an inquiry into whether Texas or federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules were violated, contributing to the injury to the employee.
Facts of the Case
In a recent Texas appellate court case, the plaintiff was a 25-year-old man who suffered massive trauma, including a severe brain injury, damage to his spinal cord, and several fractures, while working at a construction site in El Paso. He filed a workers’ compensation claim and received about $1.8 million from the insurance carrier of the prime contractor at the job site. The worker then filed suit against the temporary staffing agency, through which he worked for an allegedly negligent subcontractor, and obtained a $6.1 million jury verdict. The prime contractor’s insurance carrier then sought reimbursement of the monies it had paid out in the workers’ compensation case.