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Texas’ position as the only state that allows employers not to carry workers compensation coverage can create unusual legal wrangles for companies.
In January a nonsubscriber to Texas’ workers compensation insurance program was ordered to pay $930,000 in damages to a worker injured on the job by a forklift.
In Load Trail LLC v. Julian, the Texas Court of Appeals, Sixth District, in Texarkana affirmed a trial court’s ruling upholding an arbitrator’s decision that the employer negligently failed to provide a safe workplace.
Texas does not require most private employers to have workers compensation insurance coverage. Those that choose not to provide such coverage are referred to as nonsubscribers and can become liable for employee injuries.
“Nonsubscribers lose important legal protections, including immunity from most lawsuits by injured employees. They could also be forced to pay high damage awards if an injured employee can prove in court that the employer was negligent in any way,” the Texas Department of Insurance says on its website.
Joseph Julian was injured by a forklift in May 2017 while working for Load Trail, a Sumner, Texas-based trailer manufacturer. He sought medical treatment but was terminated two months later, with the company contending he had made an unauthorized hospital visit, filed a false injury report and took an unauthorized leave of work on the next workday following the accident.
Mr. Julian sued Lord Trail for more than $1 million in damages and his claims were ordered to mediation in accordance with Load Trail’s arbitration policy. An arbitrator held that the company negligently failed to provide a safe workplace and awarded Mr. Julian $930,000 in damages.