Texas Workers’ Compensation: Accident Resulting in Death

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In Texas when an employer subscribes to the Texas Workers’ Compensation system, the Texas Labor Code states that the exclusive remedy (for the injury) is the recovery of the Workers’ Compensation benefits.  The only exception to this statute are claims against the employer for gross negligence resulting in death.

When an employee dies as the result of a workers’ compensation accident, their spouse, dependent children and possibly parents may be entitled death benefits as the result of being a beneficiary of the deceased worker.  If the accident resulting in the workers’ death resulted from the gross negligence of the employer, the surviving spouse or heirs the body have a cause of action against the employer.

You first must establish that the worker was in the “Course and Scope” of their employment when the accident occurred.  Next, for the workers’ compensation claim, the person seeking benefits must establish that they are a legal beneficiary of the deceased worker.  To have a separate “Cause of Action”, the surviving spouse or heir’s the body of the deceased must show that the death was caused by an intentional act or omission of the employer or by the employer’s gross negligence.

Gross negligence is an act or omission “which when viewed objectively from the standpoint of the actor at the time of its occurrence involves an extreme degree of risk, considering the probability and magnitude of the potential harm to others; and of which the actor has actual, subjective awareness of the risk involved, but nevertheless proceeds with conscious indifference to the rights, safety, or welfare of others.  What lifts ordinary negligence into gross negligence is the mental attitude of the defendant . . . The plaintiff must show that the defendant was consciously, i.e., knowingly, indifferent to his rights, welfare and safety.

If one of your family members has died as the result of a Texas Workers’ Compensation accident, make sure that you do not make any agreements with the insurance company or the employer before you consult with a licensed attorney.  If you have any questions about a Texas Workers’ Compensation claim, contact the Dallas office of the Morris Law Firm at (214)357-1782 or via email at info@themorrisfirm.net.