Texas does not require employers to retain workers’ compensation insurance. Employers who opt not to purchase such policies are referred to as “non-subscriber employers.” If an employee suffers a personal injury or illness while working for a non-subscriber employer, the employer may be liable and exposed to legal action. The Texas Labor Code permits employees to sue their employers for damages in a “non-subscriber” situation, thus serving the interests of employees who are not protected by workers’ compensation. An employer may be held accountable for damages from an employee’s injury even if the injured employee is partially at fault. If the employer is found to be even slightly negligent, he or she could be found to be liable, opting not to carry workers’ compensation insurance. If an employee’s injury is the fault of a negligent co-worker, the employer may nevertheless be responsible for damage as a “non-subscriber.” In such co-worker cases, the injured party may be able to sue both the employer and the co-worker. Recoverable damages include past and future lost wages, medical expenses, past and future impairment, mental anguish, and physical and emotional losses. In the event of a fatality, the Texas Labor Code permits an employee’s family to bring legal action against non-subscriber employers in a so-called wrongful death case.
If an employee suffers a personal injury while working for a non-subscriber employer, and the injury was caused by a negligent third party—someone other than the employer—the employee is entitled to claim damages from the third party. For example, if an employee who is on the road in a company vehicle is struck by a negligent driver, Texas law permits him/her to file a claim and potentially bring a lawsuit against the negligent driver. If an employee is injured on the job while using a tool or machine in the workplace, and the equipment is found defective or malfunctioning, a lawsuit may be filed against the product manufacturer or vender. An employee who delivers a package to a third-party destination, and is injured on the property of the package recipient due to a foreseeable defect, may be allowed to bring legal action against the premise owner. Third party liability cases are an important mechanism by which injured parties without workers’ compensation are empowered by law to seek compensations for injuries and losses.