Attorney Discusses the Loss of Future Earnings After a Wrongful Death
If your loved one dies as a result of the negligence of another, do you know what kind of compensation you’re entitled to? If your spouse has tragically died because of an unfortunate accident, are you worried about providing for the future of your family? The experienced Texas wrongful death lawyers at our Law Office understand your worry during this difficult time and will seek to provide just compensation for your loved one’s loss of future earnings.
What Does Loss of Future Earnings Mean?
Loss of future earnings is the money that the spouse, children, or another financial dependent would have received had the provider not died. It is only one of the damages that can be sought in a wrongful death case, which can be a difficult value to compute to ensure that you receive just compensation for your loved one’s lost income. Courts can often interpret the loss of future earnings in a wide variety of ways, so having competent legal help on your side is of the utmost importance.
Problematic Issues in Calculating Loss of Future Earnings
Let’s suppose that your loved one was 30-years old at the time of their passing, and was then making $50,000 per year. With an estimated 35 more years of possible working potential at the same rate of pay, the base value of future lost income would be $1.75 million. Due to many variables, calculating the loss of future earnings is seldom this straightforward. For example, would your loved one have never gotten a raise? Surely that should be factored in as well. What about inflation?
Defendants at fault will seek to reduce their payouts by trying to base the final value on the fluctuations of the market during the victim’s possible working future. The competent attorneys at our Law Office can help the opposite occur by seeking to raise the base value of the suit based on former cases and testimonies of witnesses. Essentially, our attorneys help to prove that your loved one would have most likely received a promotion or a raise as part of their future earning potential.
Certain cases can be even more troubling. What if your loved one had been working at a restaurant as a waiter in order to pay for the medical school that they were also attending, and suffered a fatal accident before becoming a doctor? Should loss of future earnings be based on their hourly wage as a waiter or their future wages earned as a potential doctor? The attorneys at our Law Office know the intricacies of presenting such a case while keeping an eye on making sure you receive fair compensation for your loved one’s future, rightful, earning potential.
Losing a Loved One Doesn’t Have to Mean Loss of Future Earnings
Proving a fair amount of potential earnings on the behalf of the bereaved is typically a complex issue best left to capable attorneys. Our Law Offices seeks to mitigate prolonged future pain as a result of possibly not receiving just compensation for your loved one’s loss of future earnings by seeking to show their most likely future earning potential.
With 20 years of experience in such cases, we are amply prepared to prove your case and show the courts why you and your family are entitled to just compensation. Lessen your worry about the future of your family by contacting our wrongful death attorney. We are here to help you in your time of need.
Wrongful Death Lawyer on Fatal Semi-Truck Accidents and the Aftermath
Have you suffered a loss recently in a tragically fatal semi-truck accident in Texas? It is a sad fact that no action can bring back your loved one or somehow make up for the tragic loss. However, following such an accident you do have several choices for how to proceed legally in order to achieve some compensation for your loss as well as some justice for those whose negligence caused the loss.
You might ask us, what are the legal options following such a tragedy, and whom will I need to contact to start the process to achieve just restitution and to bring those responsible to account for their actions? In any case of wrongful death involving motor vehicles and especially in cases involving semi-trucks, the practical and legal proceedings are complex and convoluted, far beyond the skill-set of an inexperienced attorney, much less someone who does not have a legal background or have extensive knowledge of the law who might try and represent themselves. The fact that it is a wrongful death case will make it complicated such that only an experienced attorney can hope to bring you through the situation. The fatal semi-truck accident wrongful death lawsuit is a complicated process made more so by each of its components. Our Law Office offers this article by way of information so that you have the tools to make your first step in the arduous process following the tragic loss of a loved one to a fatal semi-truck accident. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call us for a free consultation. Remember as well that time is of the essence. If you are uncertain what your legal options are, call us today.
Fatal Semi-Truck Accidents
A general and prevailing misconception regarding wrongful death litigation that involves semi-trucks is that the only real difference between a situation where someone is killed by an 18-wheeler and a situation where someone is killed by an automobile is the size of the accident and possibly the size of the settlement since 18-wheelers are commercial vehicles. Both of those elements have truth in them. The size of the physical accident is indeed larger, seeing as how the difference in mass between a big rig and an automobile is enormous, and indeed some semi-truck accidents affect more than just a few people on the highway. If, for example, the anti-lock breaks of a semi-truck failed and the truck was moving along a flat standard grade stretch of highway, the velocity of the truck would carry the vehicle a mile before it stopped. Imagine thousands of pounds of steel hurtling down the road for a full mile. The damage could be enormous. However, some accidents involving semi-trucks are of a similar scale to an automobile accident, if, for instance, an 18-wheeler changes lanes without looking and knocks another vehicle off the road. It can be just as fatal, though. The second part of the misconception is that aside from the physical size of the accident, the only real difference is in the settlement, which is sure to be at least a little larger since 18-wheelers are commercial. Once again, this can be the case, since the insurance policies that commercial trucking companies hold are very large. However, the real difference between a fatal accident involving a semi-truck and a fatal accident involving an automobile is the legal proceedings and the players on the defense. The trucking companies and the insurance companies are not going to mess around, they are not going to be altruistic, and they will try their hardest to prevent you from seeing a single cent of remuneration for the loss of your loved one.
In fatal semi-truck accidents what you really need is an experienced and competent lawyer who has dealt with the companies in question before and who knows the ins and outs of the legal process involved with litigating a semi-truck wrongful death claim. An attorney taking on this case is not just dealing with the negligent driver of the truck. They are dealing with a whole team of experienced and aggressive lawyers, adjusters, and company officers. The wrongful death lawyers at our Law Office have been litigating cases like this for twenty years and can foresee the variations and complications that are going to be a part of this case. We will fight for your rights, however, so that you and your family will receive the just compensation you deserve for your tragic loss. If at any point you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call us for a free consultation.
What Are the Options for Damages?
When we refer to damages, we are referring to the ultimately quantifiable list of financial and emotional losses. This becomes more complicated than you would think, but in the majority of fatal semi-truck accident claims, there are two possible sets of damages the victim’s family can claim. These are damages for wrongful death and survival damages. When we are talking about wrongful death damages, we are talking about the damages resulting from the suffering that the family and the loved ones have incurred following the death of a family member, and the additional losses that come if that person was a wage earner. When we talk about survival damages we are referring to the emotional and financial losses that come after losing a family member, the hospital bills, the wages lost, et cetera.
Wrongful Death Damages
The damages for wrongful death could include compensation for any medical expenses suffered by the victim while they were in the hospital and the funeral expenses resulting from the accident. These are fairly black and white. They will be clearly marked on bills and can be easily presented to a jury. Wrongful death damages also include the loss of the financial support of the deceased as proven by his or her prior support to the loved ones. In cases where the primary wage-earner was the victim of the accident, the losses are particularly acute, seeing as how not only was all of that income lost, but also some current member of the family will have to find a better job, possibly undertake expensive training, and so forth. The severe emotional trauma and the mental strain caused by the loss of a loved one, as well as the loss of an irreplaceable member of a family are two damages covered under wrongful death damages, are a more likely to be contested by the defense, who could claim that because these are intangible, they are not so easily quantifiable.
The survival damages include the compensation for any lingering medical bills from the victim’s time in the hospital following the tragedy, as well as the money actually lost by the victim from their lack of work, as well as the lack of work for the family members who might have taken time off to be with the victim, all of this being due to the fatal accident. Survival damages also include some damages for emotional turmoil following the accident, as well as any physical pain and suffering undergone by the family as a result of the accident.
We understand that talk of compensation and remuneration can be unsettling since no sum of money can give you back your deceased loved one or even begin to fully compensate you for the extremity of the loss you have suffered. At the same time, though, we also know that the period following a fatal semi-truck accident can be fraught with severe financial losses that come from the hospital bills, the funeral bills, the loss of wages, the loss of property, and the loss of future opportunity, as well as many other losses. The compensation is an important part of the process since it will help to provide financial security following the accident. It also has the additional and added purpose of holding certain parties accountable for their negligence. Here at our Law Office, we understand that this next step is important for the family and we know how to assist you so that you receive the most possible compensation you deserve for your loss. We will also fight to see that the responsible parties are held accountable for their actions.
Because so many of the damages include less tangible losses that come from emotional suffering and trauma and are therefore extremely subjective, it is vital that you retain the services of a wrongful death lawyer who has a great deal of experience and competence when it comes to accurately and adequately calculating the full range of total losses and damages resulting from the fatal semi-truck accident. The attorneys at our Law Office understand the process for building a complete and comprehensive fatal semi-truck accident wrongful death lawsuit that carefully separates and quantifies both wrongful death damages and survival damages. An issue that creates even more confusion in fatal eighteen-wheeler accidents is that there is often more than one liable party whose negligence could have contributed to the fatal accident. If you want to find all of the responsible parties and hold them justly accountable for their actions, then you need an experienced wrongful death attorney who knows all of the different strategies necessary to bringing a suit against multiple defendants and claiming damages from all of them. Just coming up with the list of damages is complicated enough as it is, but you will also need a competent and experienced lawyer who can either pursue the case in a court trial or force the insurance company to come to an equitable and just settlement.
At our Law Office, we have twenty years of experience in litigating cases like this and we understand the strategies necessary for building comprehensive and strong lawsuits to bring against all of the liable and responsible parties involved and then following through with a strong case for just compensation that the liable parties must pay our clients. Our fatal semi-truck accident lawyers understand what it takes to build and litigate a strong case that will see our clients to their goal of achieving just compensation for the terrible loss they have incurred as a result of the negligent actions that caused a fatal semi-truck accident.
Trucking Companies, Insurance Adjusters, and Defense Specialists
A major obstacle to achieving compensation and to bring the responsible parties to account for their actions exists in the total defense of the responsible parties. As we noted before, commercial big rig accidents are different from automobile accidents because of the legal complexities, the extent of damages, and the aggressive behavior of the agents of the trucking company and the insurance company. Below are some of the serious roadblocks to achieving justice in a fatal semi-truck accident, and therefore some of the reasons why it is vital to retain the services of an experienced wrongful death attorney who knows the in and outs of fatal semi-truck accidents.
The Insurance Company
The fairly tame commercials that one sees on television for auto insurance companies present them as fair, consumer-friendly, almost altruistic companies who want to be seen as almost family-like or paternal in their protection of the policy-holders. The truth that everyone knows to be the case is that insurance companies are for-profit businesses that gambling their assets against the chance that the policyholders and their vehicles will be injured in an auto accident. And then, when they are, or when their vehicles are damaged, the insurance company will work to show that it was the other party who was responsible, and the other party’s insurance company who should pay. In other words, insurance companies have a bottom line. They are not your friends. They are not your family. They are a business.
Compared to the insurance companies for commercial trucking companies, however, the standard auto insurance companies start to look pretty fair and altruistic. The trucking company that either owned the big rig involved in the accident or hired the owner-operator who drove the cargo purchased an enormous insurance policy to protect them in the event of an accident, but this by no means guarantees the family of the victim to an easy, hassle-free lump sum of compensation for their loss. The commercial trucking insurance company is dealing with policies that are 50 times larger than the standard policy for an automobile. The risk is so high that the insurance company hires a team of adjusters who are highly experienced and competent at short-changing the claimants in order to help the insurance company maintain or increase their profits.
You will probably be experiencing the results of a fatal semi-truck accident for the first time with this case, and have the added burden of loss, financial instability, and emotional trauma. The insurance adjusters, however, are at the top of their game and have been doing this for years and excelling at it if they are the senior adjusters for a commercial trucking insurance company, and they know how to play the situation to their advantage, even taking into account the vulnerability of a grieving family. The first thing they will do will be to meet you on the grounds that they ‘just want to help’, and they will talk about getting you the restitution you deserve. They will just want you to answer some questions, all routine type of stuff. Do not let this fool you. They will aggressively push you with question after question waiting for you to slip up and admit even the possibility of your loved one’s liability in the accident that took his or her life so that they can avoid compensating you for your loss. We have known insurance adjusters to visit the home of the grieving family, to visit the funeral or the morgue or the hospital, attempting to just get the loved ones to ‘sign a few papers’, in which they conceal the part where the family signs away their right to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against them. Sometimes they will offer a settlement right off in exchange for an agreement not to sue. These settlements are always going to be inadequate, so you must not sign anything until you have retained the services of your own attorney and consulted with them at length about the process for what to do next. So many grieving families feel like signing a settlement will bring about some sort of closure and so they will accept unjustly low offers just to put everything behind them. Don’t do this. You deserve better and the liable parties deserve to be held accountable. Once you retain the services of the attorneys at our Law Office, we will deal with the insurance adjusters for you and we can guarantee that with our twenty years of experience with this sort of case, we will not fall for some trick or jeopardize your case.
In the majority of cases, the trucking company and the team of defense specialists they have at hand knew about the accident and the wrongful death of your loved one before you did. The moment the truck driver calls the trucking company to report the accident, they will build a defense team of attorneys and specialists in fatal semi-truck accidents and send them to the scene of the accident to begin the process of building a case against your claim. They will interview locals, find witnesses, and try to search for any evidence that will show that your deceased loved one or another third party was the liable party in the accident and that the trucking company bears no responsibility. This is their only possible course of action and they aggressively pursue it. When it comes to uncovering witness statements, the driver of the semi-truck has no interest in admitting that it was his or her fault and not the deceased. Their job and livelihood and hope of future employment depend on their record and they probably won’t throw that away just to be honest. The defense specialists do not have your interest in heart. They are thinking about the company they work for and you or your best interests do not come into the equation.
In order to succeed against these lawyers, you must try and combat their experience and competence with other experience and competence. For 20 years the attorneys at Our Law Office have been dealing with fatal semi-truck accidents, the adjusters, and the defense specialists. We understand the complexities and we build our own investigative team as soon as our services are retained. We will immediately protect and sequester the vehicles that were involved so that we can keep them safe and preserve their integrity from any other party who might be interested in them, and we will set our specialists to work examining every inch of the vehicle. Others in the investigative team will be out in the field, interviewing any available witnesses, pouring over research into the trucking company records and the record of the driver, and collecting police reports and on-site measurements. We will ascertain what happened, who was liable, and will build a case on that towards helping you achieve restitution.
Why You Need a Lawyer
The availability of internet resources on law and certain legal situations might convince some non-legal experts to attempt to represent themselves in a situation where there has been a wrongful death resulting from a semi-truck accident. Remember that a successful case involves far more components than just a simple knowledge of the legal process and the law. You deserve to have an experienced attorney who knows all the complexities of the process and will be able to forestall any attempts made by the defense to have the case thrown out or to show that the victim was the liable party. You deserve a competent lawyer who knows how to account for damages and can build a strong case based on the evidence at hand as well as witness testimony. When non-legal people try to represent themselves they generally end up destroying their own cases simply because they don’t have the experience necessary and the defense lawyers eat them alive. People think that because a case looks obvious that an insurance company will automatically settle because they don’t want to look bad in court, but the truth is that insurance company lawyers are a lot better at what they do than an untrained non-lawyer who attempts to represent himself or herself, and the company will know that and work very hard to discredit that individual.
Let Us Help
The fatal semi-truck accident lawyers at our Law Office understand how to build a strong case for the protection of your right to just compensation for the loss you have experienced from the liable parties whose negligence caused the death of your loved one. After 20 years of successfully litigating cases like this, we have dealt with most of the major insurance companies in the United States and they understand our name and our reputation for success. If you have lost a loved one to a fatal semi-truck accident anywhere in the state of Texas, then don’t hesitate to contact us. We understand how to deal with trucking companies and insurance adjusters, and we know how to build a strong case that will defend your right to just compensation for your losses. Since our success rate is so high, the insurance companies will often choose to settle out of court at an amenable rate so as not to incur the extra expense of going to court against us and losing both the settlement and the court fees. Our goal is to do what is best for our clients and we will work tirelessly to see that you receive the closure and remuneration for your losses that you deserve. If you have any questions, then don’t hesitate to call us for a free consultation.
Don’t Let a Wrongful Death Go Unpunished – Call Us Today
If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent act of another, you may be able to recover for things like:
Funeral & Burial Expenses
Pain & Suffering (Mental, Physical & Emotional)
Loss of Companionship
Loss of Loved One’s Income
When someone is killed in an incident that is attributable to someone else’s liability or negligence, it is called a “wrongful death.” These types of cases are some of the most complex, highly-defended cases in Texas due to the seriousness of the accusation & the amount of potential compensation owed. The wrongful death lawyers at our Law Office have been fighting for fatality victims and their families for 23+ years. We have won hundreds of these kinds of cases. In fact, we just recently won a $2,000,000.00 award for one of our wrongful death clients. We have won thousands of cases over the years (something that many wrongful death lawyers can only dream of), including cases involving fatalities in car accidents, truck accidents, product liability (defective products), premises liability (property owner liability), workplace accidents, drunk driving accidents, as well as boat, motorcycle & ATV accidents.
What Do I Have To Prove?
To “prove” a case involving a fatality like this, you have to show that the defendant was negligent (careless or unreasonable) or grossly negligent (behavior so outrageous as to “shock the senses”). With the latter, you may be awarded punitive (exemplary) damages along with regular compensatory (actual, pecuniary) damages. Punitive damages are given to punish the wrongdoer (tortfeasor) and send a public warning. The four elements which must be proven to win your case include:
In other words, you need to show:
The defendant owed you a DUTY not to harm you.
He BREACHed (broke) that duty by acting negligently.
His negligent acts caused injury/death (causation).
You suffered harm or loss from that death (damages).
Certain cases involving fatalities, like some product liability cases, use a different theory called “strict liability,” where no fault need be shown for the defendant to be liable.
What Can I Recover?
If you can show the elements above, you may be able to recover damages under the Texas Wrongful Death Act. These kinds of damages are only awarded to cover losses (like those mentioned above) suffered directly by the victim’s family members, not the victim himself. To recover damages suffered directly by the victim, a legal representative of the victim’s estate can file a simultaneous suit under the Texas Survival Statute to recover for things the deceased suffered before passing away, like:
Lost Earning Capacity/Disability
Pain & Suffering
The decedent would have had to have been able to recover for these in a personal injury lawsuit, had he lived. our Law Office has been recovering these kinds of damages for clients for more than two decades, and we have a wealth of insight and experience in winning these cases. Many firms say they have experience. We can prove it. We have extensive resources to offer our clients, including:
In 2007 my daughter was killed by a drunk driver… Without the law firm, I would have been lost… They’ve helped me do what I feel was justifiable for me and my family to get closure with my daughter – and I thank them.
— V. Jordan
Significant Financial Backing
In-House Investigation Team
In-House Trial Prep Team
24-Hour Emergency Response Team
Attorneys Available 24/7/365
In-House Graphics Team
House Calls for Initial Consult
No Payment Owed Unless We Win
Our in-house teams allow us to keep your costs down and thoroughly collect and preserve all evidence necessary to win your case. We have the financial resources and available qualified experts necessary to pursue your case as long as possible in order to get you the compensation you need and deserve. The Texas statute of limitations says a wrongful death lawsuit must be brought within two years from the time of death. Evidence can be destroyed and memories fade, so call our wrongful death lawyers today. Let us handle the legal and financial matters so you can grieve, heal, and lay your loved one to rest.
If You are Looking for a Workers’ Comp Attorney, Call Our Law Offices
A seasoned and effective workers comp lawyer can be of a great deal of help to you should you suffer an injury resulting from a workplace accident. And these kinds of accidents come in many varieties. Some can be relatively minor, where you can return to work either immediately after a small amount of treatment or the next day.
Others can be catastrophic, and lead to months – if not years – of extensive rehabilitation and keep you out of work for a very, very long period of time. In some instances, this kind of injury can mean you will never be able to return to work. Should you experience a work-related injury, there may be a chance that you can get just restitution for the physical and emotional trauma you are going through.
Workplace accidents often occur without any warning, and with devastating consequences. They can be caused by malfunctioning or faulty equipment, negligence on the part of the company or a fellow worker, or some other entity, and can involve falls, vehicle accidents, body parts entrapped in machinery, falling debris, or many other different circumstances that can cause a great deal of personal harm. In Texas, the law states that, if an accident occurs, the employer could be held liable for your injuries and the expenses and other unfortunate consequences that result from the accident. But there are a lot of things that people may assume concerning these kinds of events. One of the most common being that the employer or the employer’s insurance company will choose to “do the right thing” and compensate that worker for any losses he or she may incur. The cold fact is, however, that oftentimes this could not be further from the truth. Most of the time quite the opposite takes place – the employer and insurer will try and deny workers’ injury claims, thus leaving them on their own to deal with the crushing financial burdens created by the accident.
When a company or insurance provider chooses to fight a claim, the result is usually a lawsuit filed by the worker to get fair restitution for the physical, mental and monetary costs associated with the accident. In these cases, the worker filing the claim – referred to as the “plaintiff” in legal parlance – has to carry the burden of proof. In other words, he or she has to prove that the negligence of the employer or another entity led to the accident. If that injured worker is you, it is imperative that you immediately get in touch with an experienced workers comp lawyer who can help you meet that burden of proof and prevail against those responsible for your injury.
You will notice a theme throughout this article – the critical importance of you seeking experienced legal representation. We will stress this point repeatedly; it really can’t be stressed enough. There is an incredible number of hurdles that you, the plaintiff, will have to surmount in order to successfully pursue personal injury litigation. These hurdles will make your case extremely complex. If you have a novice lawyer, or worse yet, you try to take on this litigation on your own, your chances of winning are basically nil.
It could prove to be the worst mistake you’ll ever make. If you leave that courtroom a loser, then you will be responsible for all of your medical expenses. That could lead to financial ruin. The workers’ comp lawyers with our Law Office have two decades of experience in handling personal injury cases involved with workers’ compensation claims. We are extremely adept at helping injury victims get the just restitution they deserve for their injuries and we can help you navigate through all the legal complexities you will face, and thoroughly explain all legal options you have.
Is My Employer a Workers Compensation Insurance Subscriber?
The answer to the above question may be the most important one surrounding your case. There are many states in this country that require companies to pay for, or “subscribe to,” workers compensation insurance. Texas, however, does not. A lot of companies in Texas choose to subscribe to workers’ comp insurance, even though it can be very expensive. The reason is the protection from lawsuits workers comp insurance provides. Companies that choose not to purchase worker’s comp insurance are known as “non-subscribers,” and they much more exposed to litigation than is a subscribing company. Whatever the case, it is vital to ascertain whether your employer is a subscriber or a non-subscriber. You must seek legal assistance in order for you to completely comprehend the rights you have, and to determine the best legal avenue to pursue. While your litigation will differ greatly depending on whether your employer is a subscriber or non-subscriber, both kinds of cases will be filled with complexities and intricacies that inexperienced lawyers and legal laymen will find extremely daunting, to say the least. We know how to pursue litigation no matter what side of the workers’ comp fence your company resides.
How Does an Employer Benefit from Workers Comp?
The benefits to an employer from being a subscriber to workers’ compensation insurance can be enormous. Basically, a subscriber is buying much more than just an insurance policy. It’s buying lawsuit protection. An injured worker cannot sue a subscribing company. Workers comp can provide some compensation to an injured employee to help cover a portion of medical expenses and lost pay, but the amount provided normally doesn’t come close to paying for all the medical bills an injured worker accrues and is woefully inadequate in covering lost wages. Just because you suffer a workplace injury, that does not automatically guarantee that you’ll get even that relative pittance. Workers comp payments come from the insurance provider, and many times that insurer will be determined to deny a claim and thus not have to pay anything to the injured worker. At the very least, that insurer will do whatever it can to pay the least amount of money it can possibly get away with. There are several instances in Texas every year where an injured worker’s injury claim is denied flat-out thanks to the efforts of an extremely aggressive insurance provider. But an experienced workers comp lawyer can work to ensure you do not have to suffer a similar injustice.
Even though a subscribing company is shielded from a lawsuit, there are other legal methods you can employ to get fair restitution for your injury. There may be an exception that applies to your case that may allow you to take legal action against your employer, or you may be able to take action against a responsible third party, such as the manufacturer of a defective piece of equipment that may have led to the accident that caused your injury.
Exceptions in Workers Comp Cases
There are two very important exceptions regarding the workers’ compensation system that may help workplace accident victims or their families seek fair restitution. First, if a workplace accident occurs on a workers comp subscriber’s job site, and it results in the death of a worker, and it can be proven that the employer’s gross negligence led to the death, then the victim’s family can file a wrongful death lawsuit against that employer.
For workers who suffer an injury, there may be a way to pursue legal action against another party. There could be multiple persons or entities to blame for the injury. A contractor, fellow employee, or an outside third party could have caused the accident. The workers’ comp lawyers at our Law Office know how to thoroughly explore all aspects of your case to identify and pursue legal action against those responsible third parties and find other means of obtaining compensation for injury victims.
What Happens if My Employer is a Workers Comp Non-Subscriber?
Personal injury litigation involving a claim filed by a worker against a non-subscriber works in a completely different manner than those regarding subscribing companies. When the Texas Legislature enacted workers comp law, it did so with the intention of trying to lighten the burdens of an incredibly overwhelmed state legal system. The thinking was, if the instances of worker’s injury lawsuits could be lessened, the entire legal system might be able to work much more efficiently. That’s why subscribers are shielded from lawsuits involving the workplace. Consequently, the law looks unfavorably toward companies that choose not to subscribe to workers’ comp insurance. You can say the law, in effect, “punishes” non-subscribers to leaving them wide open to personal injury litigation. It is far easier for injured workers to gain just restitution for medical expenses, lost pay, and pain and suffering from a non-subscribing company than it is a subscriber. The obvious difference is that an injured worker can sue a non-subscriber. And since there is no workers’ compensation claim to file in this kind of case, a victim will not be subjected to the onerous bureaucracy associated with the workers’ comp claims process.
While it may seem like a slam-dunk, that it would be very simple to win a personal injury lawsuit against a non-subscriber, in reality, it’s not. A plaintiff in this case does, indeed, have more rights. That in no way means the process is an easy one. These kinds of cases have a lot of complexity surrounding them. Experienced attorneys – by either working for the defense to minimize compensation awarded or for the plaintiff to increase compensation – can use these complexities to the benefit of their client. The attorneys at our Law Office are extremely familiar with non-subscriber personal injury litigation and can put that experience to use for you in making sure you are fairly compensated for the injury you have suffered due to the negligence of your employer.
Sometimes a claim can be resolved amicably out of court. Many times, however, that doesn’t happen and a lawsuit gets filed as a result. When a case goes to trial, the plaintiff bears the burden of proof. Your side must prove the accident that led to your injury was caused by the employer’s negligence, and that you have incurred lost wages and lost future earning potential, medical expenses, and both emotional and physical pain and suffering as a result. This is another key difference in cases involving subscribing and non-subscribing defendants. In any case, involving a subscriber, “gross negligence” has to be proven – basically, the plaintiff has to prove that an employer habitually and recklessly created a hazardous workplace environment and that an injury-causing accident was inevitable. In a case involving a non-subscriber, however, the plaintiff needs only to prove “standard negligence,” meaning that someone’s momentary lack of focus led to the accident. This may be much easier to prove, but it still comes with several pitfalls.
Problems Involving Non-Subscriber Work Injury Claims
A non-subscribing company has but one legal defense tool it can use to try and defeat a personal injury claim, and it is called “sole proximate cause.” As we explained previously, a non-subscriber’s legal defense options are limited in this manner as a way of being punished for not purchasing workers’ compensation insurance. It can be exceedingly difficult for a non-subscriber to win a personal injury case as a result, and thus this can be a huge advantage to the plaintiff. But again, that is in no way meant to infer that winning such a case will be easy. As you will see, the sole proximate cause defense can lead to a highly emotional case that can leave lasting effects on both sides.
Sole Proximate Cause
The “sole proximate cause” defense means that the employer will maintain that you, the plaintiff, were solely responsible for the accident that caused your injury. If you were injured as a result of the accident, you were 100 percent to blame for your injury. And if this case goes to trial, the employer will always try and use the sole proximate cause defense. As a result, prepare for personal attacks on your reputation, because your employer will basically do whatever it can to paint you as an irresponsible, incompetent employee.
Non-subscribers aren’t stupid enough to not have insurance. In fact, those policies can be quite expensive. Therefore, you can guarantee the insurance provider will aggressively work to protect that policy. Specialized operatives will be dispatched to try and defeat your claim. These highly-paid professionals aren’t like a typical insurance agent you may encounter after a little fender-bender. These are normally not very pleasant people to deal with. Their only purpose is to ensure you leave the courtroom with nothing so that their insurance company’s bottom line is protected.
Those agents are but one component of the insurance company’s defense team. The other component will be a team of well-trained and highly skilled defense lawyers who will work to prove you were the sole cause of the accident that injured you. The insurance company could not care less about what you’re going through, the bills that are piling up, and the pain you’re experiencing on a daily basis. All it cares about is making money, and you are in the way of that. In order for them to continue making a profit, insurance companies work to defeat claims like yours every week. The more claims they can defeat, the higher their profit margin. By employing the services of the experienced workers’ comp lawyers at our Law Office, you will have someone on your side working in your best interests to see that you get all of the compensation you deserve.
The Employer/Employee Relationship
There may be one other method a non-subscribing company will use in order to defeat a claim. Even though it could be as flimsy as the sole proximate cause defense, it still must be taken seriously. It can be difficult to combat. What a non-subscriber might do to avoid having to pay your claim is to try and prove that you, in fact, were never really an employee of the company, but a contractor. If they can prove that an employer/employee relationship never existed, they can successfully avoid paying your claim. In Texas, contractors are responsible for their own safety in the workplace. Thus, if the company can prove you were a contractor, they cannot be held responsible for the accident that resulted in your injury. Our law firm has dealt with this kind of tactic many times. Even if the company that hired you always saw you as a contractor, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be regarded that way in the eyes of the law. There are many ways to prove that the employer/employee relationship was in full effect at the time of your accident.
Again, though, the burden of proof lies with you, the plaintiff, in establishing that the employer/employee relationship did, in fact, exist. There are quite a few methods we use to establish that relationship. If any of the following took place, it is likely you will be considered an employee of the company in the eyes of the court.
The employer withheld Social Security or taxes from your paycheck.
You were paid either hourly or through some sort of salary: weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.
You signed a document that in any way limited your rights, such as a form stating you read and understood the company’s employee handbook, or a form stating that you agreed to submit to a company-mandated drug test.
Your employer inspected, managed, or otherwise oversaw your work on a regular basis.
Your employer established a definitive work schedule for you. For example, you had to be at work at a certain time, were only allowed breaks at certain times, and could not leave until a certain time signified the end of the workday.
Your employer, and not yourself, was responsible for providing the tools and equipment necessary for you to perform your job.
The workers comp lawyers at our Law Office know how to use documented evidence, such as pay stubs, other paperwork, or the testimony of co-workers, to successfully prove the existence of an employer/employee relationship. Doing so will vastly improve your chances of winning just restitution in a personal injury lawsuit involving a non-subscribing company.
Why You Can’t Count on OSHA to Help
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, is a federal agency that plays a vital role in trying to ensure the safety of workplace environments throughout the United States. You’ve probably seen their guidelines posted somewhere at your job, maybe in the break room or the main office. So seeing those guidelines may lead you to think that if you suffer some sort of work-related injury, you can count on OSHA to help you win any litigation that may take place. As important as that agency is, however, the unfortunate truth is it can’t really help you at all.
OSHA serves a vital role, but as vital as that role is in our country, the agency will be of no use to you in your case. OSHA investigators are stretched thin because of budgetary limitations, so there’s probably very little chance they will be able to be present at every workplace accident scene. Even if they do show up, however, their only role will be to put together a report on what happened, and make recommendations to your employer on how to prevent such an incident from occurring again. This is typically a very general report used by the federal government, and normally not very specific to your case. And OSHA is not particularly concerned with who is to blame for the accident; all they want to do is enforce federal safety requirements and try to ensure that accident doesn’t happen in the future.
OSHA’s main goal is deterrence, but even in this aspect, their hands are pretty well tied. OSHA can levy a fine against a company that violates safety regulations, but its fine schedule is seriously outdated. It hasn’t been updated since the 1960s. To put that into perspective, a gallon of gas didn’t even cost 50 cents back then. So OSHA fines normally don’t amount to much more than a slap on the wrist of the offender. The intentions of the agency are noble, but it doesn’t really have as much power as you may think. And as we already said, you can forget about OSHA being of any help in your personal injury case.
So You’ve Suffered a Workplace Accident Injury. What Happens Next?
The workers’ comp lawyers of our Law Office have won thousands of personal injury cases and helped injury victims just like you reap millions and millions of dollars in awards, getting the compensation they deserve for the physical and emotional trauma they’ve experienced, and the medical expenses and lost wages they’ve incurred. And we’d like the chance to do the same thing for you. As soon as you possibly can, call us for a confidential and free consultation regarding the specifics of your case. If you hire us, we will immediately launch a thorough investigation of all the aspects of your accident. Time is of the essence in doing so, because critical evidence can often disappear if it is not gathered quickly enough. And without that evidence, your chances of winning a lawsuit are greatly damaged.
One thing you should NEVER do when you’ve suffered an injury due to a workplace accident is to sign any sort of document that will eliminate your right to sue. You’d be surprised how many injury victims will fall victim to an aggressive insurance adjuster or defense lawyer and sign away their rights in exchange for a quick settlement. They soon realize the devastating mistake they’ve made, however, when they see what kind of pittance they’ve signed for. A pittance that won’t come anywhere close to providing them just compensation for the lost wages and medical bills they’ve incurred.
Do NOT let that happen to you. Call us as soon as you possibly can so that we can go over the details of your case, clearly spell out all of your legal options, and then get to work in order to ensure you get the just compensation for your injury that you deserve.
Texas attorney Explains Non-Subscriber Cases VS Workers’ Comp Subscriber Cases
When you have been injured on the job, you need help from a lawyer with workplace accident experience, so you might be able to claim the proper compensation to which you are likely entitled. Accidents at work tend to make some of the most complicated cases we see in court.
The exact way in which these issues are dealt with varies depending on a number of factors. Perhaps the biggest question is whether the employer is a non-subscriber vs workers’ comp employer. When the employer is a subscriber, then it may be that you as an employee can not sue your employer, although there could be other remedies available to you. There may also have been mitigating factors that severed the employee-employer relationship regardless of their subscriber status.
If you’ve been injured while at work, the first thing you should do is seek proper medical attention. This is your health at stake and may affect your recovery. Go see a medical professional. It is important for both your life and your lawsuit or claim. Do not worry too much about the cost. If you’re uninsured or underinsured, your medical treatment and examination may be covered by the compensation you can seek. In some cases, we are able to help you locate medical attention with the large network of medical professionals we’ve developed. They can take your financial and personal circumstances into consideration. Also, we might be able to help you see a medical doctor at no cost upfront to you. What’s more, we are able to show you how the time you take off from work to get proper medical care may be covered by the defendant or workers’ comp. Once your treatment is covered, we turn our eye to your employer and other parties that may be at fault.
If the company you work for has workers’ compensation coverage, you will need to notify your employer immediately after the incident. Legally, you have 30 days to notify them, but many companies will try to deny benefits for an injured worker so you are best protected by reporting your medical visit as soon as possible. Furthermore, you will need to fill out a form TWCC41, and you will need to submit it to the Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission within 12 months of the date of the injury accident or you could lose your benefits. You must also be sure to follow the guidelines set forth by the doctor – who has to be in your employer’s plan – and you must answer all written requests and fill out all necessary paperwork or you may lose your benefits.
What Makes Texas Work Injury Cases So Complex
Although workers’ comp often interferes with an injured party’s ability to get compensation, it’s not always as clear as it might seem to receive proper or fair compensation. An experienced attorney can find ways around the limits that may appear in your way. For instance, we have found that many companies will say they have workers comp insurance against accidents, when in fact they do not subscribe to it. In other cases we have handled, we discovered that, even if the employer is a subscriber, we could bring an action against liable third parties involved in the Texas workplace injury accident. Clearly, seeking legal action can be complex and may involve sifting through a large number of conflicting demands. To ensure you receive all the benefits to which you are entitled, you need the help of an attorney with experience in on the job accident litigation. Texas workplace injury attorney from our Law Office can be there to help protect your rights.
What is the State’s Workers’ Compensation and How Is It Limiting?
Legally, workers’ compensation in the Lone Star state is a kind of insurance, but it’s definitely not what you think of when you think of a normal insurance plan. In our state, our workers’ compensation program is part of a statewide reform of the tort rules that were designed mainly to protect employers against lawsuits filed by their workers who get injured on the job. Tort reform in Texas arose from heavy corporate lobbying. The workers’ compensation fund in Texas is run by the state government, but the actual insurance is provided by private insurers. In Texas, employers may choose not to buy into the program. They are called non-subscribers. The issue of non-subscriber vs workers’ comp must be properly addressed as soon as possible following a work injury accident since the legal routes available to an injured worker are so drastically different depending on the answer to that question.
Workers’ compensation insurance provides a relatively limited amount of benefits to injured employees. If your employer is a subscriber to Texas’ workers’ comp insurance and you suffer an injury while at work, then you must accept the compensation the state sets, no matter who is at fault. However, such compensation is often limited and usually does not cover the entire cost of an injury in the workplace. Also, you cannot file a lawsuit against the liable company operating in Texas – whether you work in an office, a store, or on a construction site. There may be ways around this. An experienced lawyer can help you find other responsible persons that can be sued. For example, if you are injured in a warehouse where you work, and your employer has workers’ comp, you can file a complaint against your employer. However, many warehouse accidents are the result of several parties, so you may be able to sue those other parties.
Another avenue of redressing your grievances may be that your employer was not solely responsible for your injury. You can then file a lawsuit against other parties who are responsible for your injury. For many workplace accidents, there is often more than one party, person, or entity to blame.
Multiple parties can be sued for the exact same injury. So, even though work injury law in Texas says that you cannot sue your employer, you may be able to sue others who are responsible. Let’s say that a piece of equipment has fallen and it breaks your legs. While an employer may be liable for failing to keep the workplace safe, your employer may be a subscriber company, thus immune to a lawsuit. Even if the collapse was caused in part by negligence on the company’s part, the employer can’t be sued. However, it might be that a contractor installing the equipment – be it a filing cabinet, scaffolding, a cubicle, or a store display – contributed to the collapse due to sloppy or incompetent installation. This contractor could likewise be liable for the on the job injury. Maybe the materials used to secure the item when it was installed were defective. If this is the case, the manufacturer of those materials may also be sued.
Suppose that you have been hurt by the collapse of the shelf at Costco where you work. The company that built the carrier is probably responsible. If you are injured due to a faulty shelf, you may be able to make a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the shelf. In principle, although you can’t go after your employer, you may have options for compensation. Let the Texas accident lawyers help locate and bring to justice all offenders as possible.
Your employer can say they subscribe to workers’ compensation insurance when in fact they do not. Some employers might even try to pay you all the benefits you’d get under worker’s comp to promote this lie. Our lawyers can investigate your employer to determine if they really are a non-subscriber vs workers’ comp employer. When a liable employer is a non-subscriber, we can help you file a Texas personal injury lawsuit.
The Workers’ Comp Process Is Complex
It is never easy or simple when navigating the workers’ comp insurance process in dealing with your on-the-job job injury. Companies will very often contest your claims, as will their insurer. Insurance companies are usually more interested in helping themselves than helping you because you are not the one paying their premiums. You are a liability in their financial ledger. The less that is paid to you, the more they still have.
Additionally, the burden of proof is on you. There exists a special workers’ compensation court established to hear some workers comp cases, and you have to prove your case. It’s often a complex, bureaucratic process fraught with many hazards. Your damages can be reduced by the court. The Texas work accident attorneys at our Law Offices have been winning workers’ compensation cases against insurance companies for the past twenty years, and that’s why we feel it’s critical for injured parties to have representation that’s experienced and working in your interests.
How Are Benefits Limited By Workers’ Comp?
If you are hurt at work and the employer has workers’ comp accident insurance, you usually get up to 70% of your income loss, but this compensation is limited to $600 per week at the most. For example, say you are an accountant who makes $70,000 a year. If you are injured on the job and the accident was caused by the employer, you get that $600 a week for the loss of income while you are healing. But, if you have a long-term disability and the doctor says you can never go back to work, you only get $600 a week for life, even if you used to take home $1,400 per week. You can also get a lump sum of at the end of your recovery, but such payments are usually very minimal.
In addition, claims against workers’ comp do not take into account the future earning potential. Let’s say you work in a Texas Walmart while attending law school and you are seriously injured in an accident on the loading dock. It’s so bad, in fact, that you are unable to work or continue on in school. You will get only 70 percent of your salary from Walmart for the rest of your life. Your compensation is based on the life of your salary from Walmart and not the much higher average earnings you would have likely earned if you finished law school.
If the company where you work is supposed to be a subscriber, you will want to know for sure so you can seek proper legal action to pursue fair compensation. Alternatively, if one or more third parties are partly responsible for your accident, you should be able to go after them and take them to court. Our Texas on the job work accident attorneys can help build a solid case to get you the proper compensation.
Under workers’ comp, you are entitled to complete reimbursement for all your medical costs, such as the costs of medical treatment, prescription and over the counter drugs, and all the other medical supplies you need to recover from your injury. Continuing treatment and medicines are also potentially reimbursable. If you incur travel expenses in seeking medical treatment or therapy, or for your supplies and prescriptions, those may likewise be reimbursed. Workers’ compensation does not, however, include coverage or reimbursement for any pain, suffering, or similar general damages, except for that of lost income and medical expenses.
The single, most important exception to the rule that a plaintiff may not sue a subscribed employer is that you can sue a subscribed employer if you are the family member of an employee who died in a fatal work accident, provided that the employer’s gross negligence was the cause of that accident. If your case meets these two criteria, you can file a Texas wrongful death lawsuit in regular court.
What if My Employer Is Not a Subscriber?
If the employer is not enrolled in Texas workers’ comp, you can bring a regular personal injury suit and claim damages for various injuries, such as:
Loss of income for the length of time in the hospital or out of work.
Any loss of earning capacity and long-term disability.
Your medical expenses.
Property damage incurred.
The physical pain, suffering, and emotional distress.
If your employer is a non-subscriber to workers’ compensation, they have only one legal defense known as sole proximate cause. This defense works to prove that you were solely responsible for your accident. Employers generally work towards building an argument against you that you’re the only person at fault. For example, if you have injuries in the workplace that resulted from you lifting something too heavy, your employer may argue that because you worked alone, the injury was your fault alone. Our lawyers are often able to prove the link between your innocent actions and any injuries by showing that your employer failed to provide the right safety equipment and training needed for someone to know how to lift and carry safely the heavy load. We also note that other forms may have been exhibited by other parties also involved in the workplace injury accident in Texas.
Connecting the incident to the employer in this way is often done by doing the hard legal work that’s often challenging for less experienced attorneys. This legal responsibility is not something that a less experienced attorney would likely understand as well as our lawyers. You need a lawyer who knows how to handle work-related accidents. We know how to prove to the jury that the injury was caused by negligence on the part of the employer, not you. We are dedicated to helping you seek compensation regardless of the non-subscriber vs workers’ comp status of your employer.
Contracting vs. Employment – It Matters
Many companies mistakenly believe that instead of hiring employees, they can hire contractors in order to shy away from liability for accidents. This belief is because of the fact that Texas law expressly states that employees are generally entitled to protection from accidents, but not contractors. On the other hand, Texas law does not provide clear guidelines to determine the status of a person, whether an employee or a contractor. This means that the lawyer for you should review previous decisions to discuss whether a worker is an employee or a contractor. This is called case law and the state is very clear on this point. When it comes to civil liability, the actual work with the employer is what matters most.
Many factors can create an employment relationship. The most direct is a contract where you are employed. Another simple example is that if an employee serves, in particular, the activity of the employer. For example, a person who is working in a Gap, wearing a Gap name tag, and is serving customers in a Gap, then the person is a Gap employee, despite the absence of an agreement saying so.
In most cases, the determination between a contractor and an employee is not so simple. In these situations, we have listed a number of conditions to determine your relationship with your current employer:
The worker works for a lot of clients: If a plumber is working on various projects for several clients, he is a plumbing contractor. If he works on many buildings for one client, he is an employee.
The worker must use their own tools: If the employee is responsible for their own tools and equipment, a worker is a contractor. If the employer has the tools and equipment with which the employee works, he’s an employee.
The worker is paid at the end of a project: If the worker is paid at the end of the project, the worker is a contractor. If the employee pays the wages per hour or per year, the worker is an employee.
The worker has his work managed at various stages of completion: If the employer must take account of a project at different stages of completion, the worker is an employee. If the employer takes into account solely the finished product, the worker is a contractor.
When the worker gets to decide how long to spend on each project: If the employee cannot determine the time it takes for a particular project, the worker is not a contractor.
When you take a worker from another agency, the rules for determining the relationship may be similar, but there are fundamental differences. The conditions are:
Worker’s employer has the right to hire or fire: If the employer who borrows can fire an employee at any time, the worker is an employee.
The employer has the right to choose a particular employee whose employer: If this is the case, it’s an employee relationship.
When the borrowed employee is responsible for supplying their own tools, the worker is a contractor. If the employer provides tools for the job, the worker is employed.
The borrower cannot replace an employee with another employee at any time: If this is the case, the worker is a contractor.
When the employer borrows the worker for some unspecified time: If an employee has borrowed the worker for the length of the project only, the project worker is a contractor.
The worker is taken because of a specific skill: If a computer repair company borrows and expert on fiber optics, the worker is a contractor. However, if an employer has the employee fill a position that anyone can fill, then the worker is an employee.
Where the employer is liable for the income tax and social security: If the borrower pays for services and income, that the worker is employed. If the employer does not have this responsibility, while the worker is a contractor.
Our Texas Work Accident Law Firm is Ready to Help You Seek Compensation
Our lawyers can help you find just compensation if you are injured at work. If the employer has state workers ‘comp insurance’ – or when the employer does not – we can help you obtain compensation.
We can also help you identify third parties who may be liable and therefore financially responsible. Even when these third parties are liable only on the basis of unclear legal theories, we can help. If the employer does not have accident insurance, we can help build a strong and complete case against non-subscribers, and we can fight against defense lawyers, who will work to shed liability. We also thoroughly investigate your employer to determine whether or not they are a non-subscriber vs workers’ comp employer. Before talking to the insurance company, accepting a commitment fee from the company, or trying to sue on your own, contact our Texas work injury attorneys to learn more about your legal options and the possible value of your case or claim.
Our Texas workplace accident law firm is often able to obtain compensation for injured workers that less experienced lawyers have refused to help. We recently dealt with a case in which a worker was injured at work, and he had signed a contract saying he was only a contractor working there. More than half a dozen different law firms said that it was not a good case. our Law Office, however, established a working relationship and eventually won a seven-figure settlement.
Our on-the-job accident lawyers bring to the table decades of experience. We have successfully handled hundreds of occupational injury cases in Texas and throughout the country. We have gone against nearly all major insurers. Defense attorneys know and respect our name. They know that we care about our clients’ rights and will fight relentlessly to protect their interests. They are often afraid to take our lawyers to court. We may be able to obtain a just compensation without the need to use the courtroom, but we are willing and ready to fight aggressively for your court when necessary. We do everything we can to ensure that you have a fair compensation for your injuries. To learn more about your possible legal options following a work accident injury in Texas, call us for a legal consultation at no cost to you.