Although filing a workers’ compensation claim in the event of a loved one’s death on the job can recover some costs, it is typically not enough to cover the full extent of your family’s losses. Under some circumstances, however, it is possible to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the employer.
If the Employer Carries Texas Workers’ Compensation Insurance
According to the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act, workers’ compensation “exclusively” covers the cost of a workplace injury or death. This means employers who have workers’ comp insurance cannot be named in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
However, there is an exception to this law. If the cause of the employee’s death is an employer’s gross negligence or as a result of the employer’s intentional act or oversight, families can file a wrongful death claim against an employer. Even if the employer has provided workers’ comp benefits, this type of lawsuit can still be filed.
If another party—other than the employer—was responsible for the workplace death, a family can file a third-party claim. These type of claims are often filed against manufacturers of defective machinery, distributors of tools used at the workplace, subcontractors, and other negligent parties.
If the Employer Doesn’t Carry Texas Workers’ Comp Insurance
If a worker is killed on the job for an employer who doesn’t carry workers’ compensation insurance, the family is able to file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover monetary losses. It is important to understand that families can recover damages not typically awarded through the worker’s compensation system, including pain and suffering, as we as punitive damages. While some these employers may provide alternative accident relief and health benefits to employees, they are not considered a legal replacement for workers’ compensation.