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Texas comp insurer doesn’t owe coverage for out-of-state worker’s accident


A Texas appellate court on Thursday ruled that an in-state insurer did not owe coverage for an out-of-state worker’s accident that happened in Louisiana.

David Hope, a Florida resident who worked for Saginaw, Texas-based Hofer Builders Inc., was injured in December 2014 at a Louisiana construction work site, according to Texas Mutual Insurance Co. v. Hofer Builders Inc., filed in Texas Court of Appeals, 3rd district, in Austin.

Hartford Underwriters Insurance Co. was the workers compensation insurance provider for the general contractor on the project. Texas Mutual Insurance Co. provided coverage for HBI. HBI’s policy included a standard form endorsement, indicating it provided coverage for only Texas employees. The policy provided that coverage would be available to Texas employees injured out-of-state if the injury would have been compensable in Texas and the employee has significant contacts with Texas or the employment is principally located in the state.

Mr. Hope filed a claim for workers compensation benefits in Louisiana. Texas Mutual brought a declaratory judgment action against HBI in Texas, seeking a declaration that it did not have a duty to defend, indemnify or reimburse HBI regarding Mr. Hope's claim for Louisiana workers compensation benefits.

A trial judge granted summary judgment for HBI, but the Court of Appeals for the 3rd District of Texas reversed. On remand, the trial judge again granted summary judgment for HBI. The Court of Appeal then ruled that Texas Mutual established as a matter of law that Mr. Hope’s employment was not principally located in Texas.

The evidence was undisputed that after Mr. Hope was hired in November 2014, he was never physically at HBI’s Texas office but worked exclusively at the Louisiana site until he was injured, the court said. HBI also did not have a place of business in Texas “at or from which” Mr. Hope regularly worked, the court said.

“For these reasons, we conclude that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of HBI and Hartford and denying Texas Mutual’s motion for summary judgment,” the court said.

WorkCompCentral is a sister publication of Business Insurance. More stories here.