Understanding Construction Accident Law in Texas
The Laws of the State of Texas governing construction accident injuries are somewhat complex, contain areas of overlap, and contain certain technicalities. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury, due to the complex nature of this area of law, you should consider calling our Firm for help from an experienced law firm.
Construction accidents can present certain factors that make it very difficult to win without the help of an experienced attorney, partly because construction companies have become so good at manipulating the system. Many construction projects will have multiple contractors and subcontractors working in unison. While the obvious reason for this arrangement is due to the fact that different construction firms specialize in different tasks, the more devious aspect is that construction companies think they can absolve themselves from any liability by using contractors rather than employees.Work Site Injury
One of the biggest differences between construction accidents and work site accidents is the nature of the work is considered more dangerous in a construction environment.
Ultimately, this means that the employer owes a greater legal duty to the worker in order to ensure their safety. Unfortunately, in spite of the increased level of danger, many construction companies do not put as strong of an emphasis on safety as they should. Not focusing on safety in an office environment can be bad, but disregarding safety on a job site can quite easily result in major injuries or deaths.Construction Accident Lawsuits Can be Complex?
Texas construction accident laws are complex largely due to tort reform measures that were passed some time ago. These tort reform measures have effectively resulted in two sets of laws which dictate your rights as a worker. Construction accidents in the State of Texas fall into two distinct categories:
- Work site injuries that are covered by workers' compensation insurance
- Work site injuries that are not covered by workers' compensation insurance
Your rights will substantially differ depending on your employer's status. This status will also determine the type of attorney that you will need, any potential limits or caps on the compensation you can recover, the specific strategies your attorneys can use in representing you and establishing your employer's liability, who may be a recipient of any compensation, and several other important items.Immigration Status in Wrongful Death
Many construction workers in The State of Texas are from Mexico or other foreign countries. Often, they are working in America illegally. While this is a highly volatile political topic, as it relates to a wrongful death on a construction site a worker's immigration status should have no impact on their rights as a worker.
However, there are a unique set of obstacles that must be addressed. It is fairly common for a worker to live here in America while their family lives in Mexico. In the event of a death, arrangements must be made to transport the decedent's remains back to their country of origin. This matter becomes quite challenging for the family members in Mexico, since the company the decedent worked for usually provides little to no communication to the family. Our attorneys can work with the Mexican Consulate to make arrangements to transport the decedent back to their family for burial.
Additionally, construction accident wrongful death cases involving a non Americans are further complicated by the fact that many construction companies feel little pressure from family members that are so far away. You don't have to be particularly cynical to see how many of these construction companies make a practice of hiring illegal immigrants partly because they know that the workers are always in a constant state of fear over being deported which makes them less likely to complain when they are being treated unfairly. We find such a notion to be completely appalling and unacceptable. To put this into perspective, in one of our firm's recent construction accident wrongful death cases, the victim was an immigrant laborer and in spite of the fact that his death was quite public, it did not even make the news. Such indifference shown by employers is certainly cause for special consideration in these types of cases.What Exactly is Workers' Compensation?
In 1993, lawmakers enacted the Texas Workers' Compensation Act. This act established provisions that protect companies by enabling them to purchase workers' compensation insurance, which shields them from law suits on behalf of injured employees. If an employee is injured on a job site and the company is a subscriber to workers' compensation insurance, the employee's medical expenses and some portion of their salary are, theoretically, taken care of by the worker's comp insurance carrier. However, that's not always the case, as many companies bend the rules, leaving employees with less than their fair share. If you are not being fairly compensated after your injury and your employer subscribes to worker's compensation insurance, call Grossman Law Offices today to discover what you are legally entitled to.What is a Nonsubscriber?
When your employer chooses not to subscribe to workers' compensation insurance, the legal world refers to them as as a "nonsubscriber". Nonsubscriber construction accident cases are substantially different than workers' comp cases due to the "double edged sword" nature of the Texas Workers' Compensation Act. In essence, the TWCA provides some measure of immunity to companies who subscribe to workers' comp insurance, but also has built-in provisions to "punish" nonsubscribers by taking away many of their legal defenses and by not setting a cap on the amount that can be recovered.
Since nonsubscribers cannot rely on conventional defense strategies, a rarefied group of defense attorneys that do nothing but defend nonsubscribers have stepped up to defend employers. By nature, they are the most aggressive defense attorneys in the industry. Left with so few defense strategies at their disposal, their case general centers around building a case against YOU. They will do everything in their power to discredit you, and otherwise show that the accident is your fault through some technicality or another. Without the help of experienced construction accident attorneys on your side, you won't stand a chance against the defense counsel.Why Would a Construction Company not Want to Subscribe to Workers' Compensation Insurance?
With all of the legal protection that it grants them, you would think that every construction company would elect to subscribe to worker's comp. However, many construction companies and general contractors will try to save money by not purchasing this rather costly insurance. Ultimately, they are risking your livelihood to in favor of profit.
Certainly, there are some companies that can risk not having such coverage since the work environment is not particularly dangerous. However, construction jobs are inherently dangerous, and the large majority of construction companies that we have gone against, as it turns out, are just trying to save money by not subscribing to worker's comp insurance. When their employees get injured, the company then has to pay out of pocket to compensate the employees. As you can imagine, most companies would rather fire the employee or otherwise skirt their legal obligations.Construction Accident Wrongful Death
Due to the dangerous environment of the average work site, it is not uncommon for a construction accident to result in death. Common causes of construction site deaths are heavy machinery accidents, falling accidents, crushing accidents, and exposure to toxic chemicals, explosive chemicals, or electricity.
When a construction accident results in death, it is absolutely imperative for the family of the deceased to hire an attorney immediately. Work sites rarely stay still for long. It is not uncommon for a worker to be killed by a piece of machinery only to have that same machinery back in the service a few days later. In an environment that changes so rapidly, it is crucial for an attorney to be brought into the equation as soon as possible, so that the attorney can secure the site in order to preserve the evidence necessary to win a wrongful death case. For example, your attorney can file for a subpoena to keep the equipment out of service.
Additionally, while most companies will make an effort to adhere to the rules following an accident, there are many unscrupulous construction companies out there that have been known to engage in complex cover-ups to conceal their liability in a construction accident. Without an attorney to stop them in their tracks or uncover such a scheme through deposition testimony, it is very unlikely that the truth will over come out. To be more specific, investigators from OSHA and the local police department will generally ask questions designed to reconstruct the events immediately surrounding the accident, and not much else. Through our rigorous questioning techniques and investigative methods, our firm has uncovered SHOCKING aspects to wrongful death cases that the authorities never even knew to ask for.Misconceptions About OSHA
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is a federal regulatory organization the mandates all safety rules and investigates all construction accidents in the country. Immediately following a construction accident, an OSHA representative will be dispatched to the scene of the accident to conduct an investigation. Upon completion of the investigation, OSHA will file an official report with their findings. A common misconception that most people have regarding OSHA is that they will ultimately make a negligent company pay for an injured or deceased worker. In fact, OSHA does dispense fines to negligent companies, but the fines are horribly inadequate. The highest single fine that OSHA can impose for a death is only $7,000. Even if the employer is found to be responsible of numerous negligent acts, the fines rarely total a significant amount of money. Charles Jeffress, the former director of OSHA, has stated publicly, "...The current law is inadequate to deal with serious violators, repetitive violators, situations where people are put at risk day after day." Until laws are passed that grant OSHA some greater abilities to levy substantial fines, it is more cost effective for some companies to disregard safety and pay the puny fines.