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Gross Negligence Defined
The only way you can sue a company that is a workers’ compensation subscriber is by proving its gross negligence led to the death of your family member. Instances such as momentary lapse of focus or reason, or an isolated error, are considered standard negligence and are protected by workers’ comp. But if either an employer or one of its employees habitually displays recklessness or carelessness in the performance of their duty to protect others, that is considered gross negligence. Say a fellow worker accidentally knocks a cinder block off the roof of a building and crushes an employee standing below. This is an example of standard negligence. But if the construction company habitually allows a construction site to pose a hazard due to debris constantly lying around, and other objects have repeatedly been knocked from the building, then that is gross negligence. The worksite’s foreman should have been reasonably able to anticipate the possibility that a fatal accident could have been a consequence of that hazardous environment.More on this webpage
One of our clients was the family member of a construction worker who died when his boss ordered him to work on a crane without a properly functioning safety harness. Not only did the worker’s harness malfunction and cause him to fall to his death, but the owner of the company also had the sheer audacity to race to a nearby hardware store, buy a new harness, and attach it to the corpse before the death was even reported. But because we undertook an investigation and interviewed other workers who were at the scene, we were able to expose the owner’s callous attempt at a cover-up.
In order for your family’s wrongful death lawsuit to be successful, you need to have an experienced attorney on your side who can strategize a rock-solid case that can meet the high standards necessary to prove gross negligence.
Because a non-subscribing company did not purchase workers’ comp insurance, the only way to gain restitution is through a lawsuit. In this case, however, the plaintiff needs only prove the occurrence of standard negligence to win restitution, and standard negligence has a much lower standard of proof.
The State of Texas, in effect, punishes non-subscribers by making it easier for a plaintiff to win a wrongful death lawsuit. However, the litigation involved in such a case can be much more intricate and emphasizes, even more, your need to have an experienced attorney on your side. Not only must the plaintiffs in this kind of case prove their loved one’s death was due to the company’s standard negligence, but they must also prove the amount of compensation they are trying to obtain is fair and just.