CALA Slingshots: Workers' Compensation
Surest Way to Poison the Well

In recent years the Texas workers' compensation insurance system has increased benefits to workers and decreased the cost to employers by reducing the personal injury lawyers' incentives to be involved.

This has been an effective win/win solution for treating on-the-job injuries.

Yet, despite this success, the state's workers' compensation system will soon again face a trial.

A factory worker has taken his claim to the Texas Supreme Court, hoping the court will allow his work-injury case to be moved to the state court where noneconomic and punitive damages may be recovered.

The problem is, that is not allowed under our no-fault workers' compensation system.

In Texas, a business that joins the workers' compensation system is immune from employee lawsuits - except in the case of death where gross negligence can be proven. This is good for both employers and employees.

Employees get their lost wages and medical bills paid with no questions asked. Employers and employees keep such cases out of the courts where cases would be difficult to prosecute and defend.

This means an employee can come to work half asleep and carelessly stick his hand in a machine, be injured and still get paid through workers' compensation - it is a no-fault system.

In the case coming up, a factory worker is claiming that his injury deserves additional compensation. His argument is that by requiring him to perform a dangerous job, his employer intended that he be harmed.

This worker applied for a job and accepted it, knowing that it might expose him to danger.

Allowing workplace injuries to go to trial won't help most employees, it will merely clog the courts and make the system unworkable.

The end result would be increased costs (including higher insurance premiums) and fewer dollars available for jobs, raises and employee benefits.

The surest way to poison the well would be to allow the personal-injury lawyers the opportunity for lawsuits on every workers' compensation injury.

Norman E . Adams , Houston

Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

2500 City West Boulevard, Suite 300 • Houston, Texas 77042
E-mail: sosueme@ • Administrative: (713) 267-2302 • Fax: (713) 267-2267