In Southeast Texas, industrial accidents happen frequently and in many different ways. As a working man or woman in an industrial plant, you are almost certainly covered by a Workers’ Compensation policy with your employer.
Workers’ compensation was created as a bargain between the owners and employers of petrochemical plants and refineries, as well as other businesses and industries, and the workers and labor unions. The agreement was that employers would provide workers’ compensation insurance and it would cover any injury on the job, regardless of the cause. In other words, even if the employee himself was completely responsible for the accident, the workers’ compensation insurance would pay for his lost wages and medical bills even if he caused his own accident.
For example, say that a worker is at the Dupont Sabine River Works facility in Orange, Texas and is supposed to work with PPE that includes a chemical resistant suit. The worker doesn’t put on the chemical resistant suit and as he is working, he gets burned by contact with acid. That would clearly be the worker’s fault since he was trained to use the suit in that situation; he was provided a suit; the job permit called for a protective chemical suit; and the worker chose to work without putting on the chemical suit. If there was no workers’ compensation law, then the employee worker could sue his employer for his injuries under negligence theories. But since negligence allows the employer DuPont to ask the jury to determine the worker’s contribution of the cause of the accident. In the scenario above, the worker would get nothing for his injuries since the jury or judge would invariably find he was the only cause of his own injuries or greater than fifty percent of the cause for his injuries. He would in turn be responsible for his own medical expenses and lost wages.
But WITH Workers’ Compensation Insurance, his negligence would not matter. He could be 100 percent responsible for his own injuries and the workers’ comp insurance would cover him for the lost wages and the medical expenses. That is the bargain. The worker is completely covered.
Next time we will discuss the benefit of this bargain to the employers like DuPont or Exxon. See
The Benefit of Workers’ Compensation to Employers