Workers' Compensation

Texas: Widow’s Gross Negligence Action Against Employer Fails

In Texas, an employer that causes the death of an employee due to the employer’s gross negligence or intentional acts or omissions is subject to suit for exemplary damages brought by the surviving spouse or heirs of the deceased employee [see Tex. Labor Code Ann. § 408.001(a)-(b)]. A state appellate court held that although an employer failed to hold a specific training and safety meeting regarding a trench roller, the evidence did not raise a fact issue that ordering the employee to operate the machine involved an extreme degree of risk under Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 41.001(11), when viewed objectively from the employer's standpoint at the time of the occurrence. The court initially observed that the deceased had worked with the trench roller for some five years prior to the fatal accident. Moreover, the employer had provided handouts that discussed safety topics and had warned workers of the dangers of standing between the heavy equipment and a fixed object, such as a wall.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is a leading commentator and expert on the law of workers’ compensation.

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to lexis.com.

See Garay v. G.R. Birdwell Constr., 2014 Tex. App. LEXIS 12710 (Nov. 25, 2014) [2014 Tex. App. LEXIS 12710 (Nov. 25, 2014)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 100.01 [100.01]

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.

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