Cook v. White Construction Co., No. 03-10-00114-CV (Tex. Ct. App. 08/04/11).
Ruling: The Texas Court of Appeals held that a worker's suit against a contractor was barred under the exclusive remedy provision.
What it means: In Texas, a contractor that provides workers' compensation insurance to employees of a subcontractor is entitled to the exclusive remedy defense in a suit brought by an injured worker of the subcontractor.
Summary: A construction worker was injured when he fell from a ladder. He was an employee of a subcontractor on the project. The contract between the general contractor and the owner of the project stated that the general contractor was required to provide workers' compensation insurance to all employees performing duties on the project. The owner agreed to provide an owner-controlled insurance program under which all contractors and subcontractors were covered. All of the subcontractor's employees were covered by workers' compensation insurance at the time of the worker's injury. The worker sought and received workers' compensation benefits. Later, the worker sued the general contractor. The Texas Court of Appeals held that the general contractor was entitled to rely on the exclusive remedy defense, and the suit was barred.
The worker noted that because he worked for a subcontractor, the general contractor could invoke the exclusive remedy defense if it provided his workers' compensation insurance. The worker argued that the general contractor did not do so. The court determined that the general contractor was required to provide workers' compensation insurance to all of its subcontractors' employees even if the owner terminated its insurance program. The court said there was no circumstance in which the subcontractor would have to pay for its own workers' compensation insurance. The worker admitted that he was injured while he was covered by the insurance program. The court concluded that the general contractor provided workers' compensation insurance to the worker and was immune from his suit.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
September 29, 2011
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