Personal Injury Rules Clarified in Texas Construction Case

Aug 29, 2017

A $43.5 million verdict is overturned by the appeals court.

Texas law has clearly defined regulations outlining what recourse is available for a worker injured on a construction site.

As an article in the Houston Chronicle explains, the Texas Fourteenth Court of Appeals recently overturned a $43.5 million verdict because, based upon Texas law, the plaintiff’s injury did not meet the statutory requirements required for a personal injury suit against the subcontractor that caused the injury.

“Tyler Lee, who worked for Skanska USA Building, the general contractor for [an] office building project” had his leg crushed when a crane operated by “Berkel & Company, a subcontractor, collapsed.

Mr. Lee sued Berkel “for negligence, gross negligence and intentional injury… A jury awarded Lee $35 million in actual damages and $8.5 million in exemplary damages.”

Upon appeal, this verdict was overturned by the Court of Appeals “because the healthcare and income replacement benefits provided through no-fault Texas workers compensation is the sole remedy for non-fatal workplace accidents.”

Skanska provided workers compensation for its subcontractors as well as for its own employees.

Under Texas state law, filing for workers compensation is the only avenue of compensation for a jobsite injury unless the accident results in a death or the actions of the defendant were intentional.

In this case, although the injuries were significant they were no fatal. And there was compelling evidence that although the crane operator and his superintendent were, arguably, negligent they did not intentionally collapse the crane on Mr. Lee’s leg.

The Appeals court ruling is a victory for common sense. Mr. Lee was not precluded from obtaining compensation for his injury. But statutes enacted to protect contractors from having to pay excessive damages were enforced.

Source—

Texas Appeals Court Overturns $43.5M Verdict to Injured Construction Worker, Houston Chronicle, reprinted at enr.com, July 14, 2017.