When an employer's negligence causes an accident, workers can seek compensation for their injuries from them. However, what should a worker do when it's less obvious who is responsible for their accident? This is the problem that many Texas construction workers are facing after sustaining an injury on the job.
Often, construction workers aren't entirely certain what company they are working for. Since construction companies operate on contracts with other companies, it can be challenging to understand precisely who is responsible after a serious construction accident. Now, one advocacy group is working to hold Texas employers accountable for work accidents.
What's the Problem with Subcontracting & Injuries?
The Dallas Morning News recently profiled the story of Felipe Marco, a 40-year-old carpenter who experienced a fall accident while on the job. The incident caused him to suffer from six broken ribs and a perforated lung. With $28,000 in medical bills caused by an unsafe work environment, Marco needed help. The only problem? He wasn't sure what company was responsible for his accident and none extended workers' compensation insurance to his employment. After his boss stopped returning his calls, the construction worker needed answers that no one would provide.
Marco's situation was complicated further by the fact that his direct employer was subcontracted by another contractor to work on a luxury home development by First Texas Homes. While the carpenter thought he was working for one subcontractor on the First Texas Homes project, he was working on the project on behalf of a completely different one.
Workers' Compensation in Texas Is Notoriously Absent for Many Workers
Texas is the only state that doesn't require employers to carry workers' compensation insurance. So, while none of the companies responsible for Marco's employment weren't breaking the law by not carrying insurance, advocates at the Workers Defense Project argue the multi-layered aspect of construction subcontracting enables them to escape accountability for incidents.
A study from the Workers Defense Project and the University of Texas found that, though they represent 6 percent of the Texas economy, construction workers account for 20 percent of all uncompensated care in Texas hospitals.
The construction industry is dangerous. In fact, workers in the industry face so much risk that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration tracks fatal accidents suffered by them. Known as the Fatal Four, these incidents represent 21.1 percent of the nation's fatal work accidents.
Accountability provides safety, and Texas workers deserve the benefits of both.