The state of Texas allows employers to opt out of the workers’ compensation system. But the law that makes that allowance also includes provisions designed to encourage employers not to make that choice. Those provisions prevent a non-subscriber employer (that is, an employer who has chosen not to participate in the workers’ compensation system) from using a variety of defenses if they are sued by an injured worker.
The idea is that if an employer knows that they may be more vulnerable to lawsuits filed by injured employees, they will be more likely to choose to participate in workers’ comp. But of course, not every employer makes that decision. And while the law prevents non-subscriber employers from using some defenses, it certainly doesn’t ban every possible defense.
As a result, if you suffer an injury on the job and your employer is a non-subscriber, it is important to be aware of how the employer may choose to defend themselves if you sue them for compensation.
Frequently Used Non-Subscriber Employer Defenses
Among the common defenses non-subscriber employers turn to when they are sued after an employee is injured are:
- Signed waiver. We list this defense first to highlight an essential point. If you are hurt on the job, you absolutely must not sign any sort of waiver that would release your employer from responsibility. They may pressure you to do so (after all, they don’t want to have to compensate you for your injuries if it can be avoided), but they cannot require you to sign anything.
- Intoxication. Your employer would be delighted to be able to argue that you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident and are therefore responsible for your own injuries.
- Commonly known hazard. This is a bit of a tricky argument, but it amounts to this: the employer claims that the hazard that led to your injury was well known to you and other employees. The employer might make this argument if they had not posted any warnings about hazardous conditions. They are allowed to argue that they didn’t need to post a warning because everyone already knew about the potential risk.
- Routine job. According to the Texas Supreme Court, employers don’t have liability for an employee’s injuries if the employee was performing the “usual and customary” task that they “constantly and generally” perform as part of their job.
- Sole proximate cause. This argument requires the employer to demonstrate that the employee’s actions—and only the employee’s actions—were the cause of the accident.
- Pre-existing injury. Your employer may attempt to demonstrate that you were injured before the accident—and that, therefore, the accident did cause your injuries, and the company cannot be held liable.
- Deliberate harm. The employer might try to argue that you hurt yourself on purpose rather than suffering an accident for which the company would be liable.
You Need a Personal Injury Attorney to Counter These Defenses
Let us be clear: We are not suggesting you should let any of these possible defenses deter you from pursuing fair compensation after you have been injured at work. Rather, we are making the case that it is important to be aware of your employer’s possible tactics—and that you should hire a personal injury attorney who has the expertise and experience necessary to counter those tactics in court.
We Have the Expertise Needed in Non-Subscriber Employer Cases
A non-subscriber employer will pull out all the stops to avoid having to compensate you for injuries you suffer on the job. That is why it is so important to hire a personal injury attorney who knows the ins and outs of non-subscriber employer cases.
The lawyers of SJ Injury Attorneys know all of the defenses your employer might attempt to use—and we know how to counteract them. We are committed to ensuring that you are fairly compensated after you have been hurt at work. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation about your case.