Texas Workers Compensation Case Law

Litigation History – Major Cases, 2003 - 2009 

• Continental Cas. Co. v. Rivera, 124 S.W.3d 705 (Tex. App. – Austin, 2003, pet. denied) and Cervantes v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 130 S.W.3d 152 (Tex. App. – Austin 2003, pet. denied) – These two, separate appellate court decisions reach conflicting conclusions on whether a party must timely appeal the agency’s hearing officer’s decision to the agency’s Appeals Panel in order to successfully seek judicial review of the agency’s final decision. The Rivera court answered in the affirmative and the  Cervantes  court answered in the negative. The timeliness of the agency’s dispute process, based partially on the promptness of appeal requests by the parties, may be affected by a resolution of these conflicting decisions.
• Hospitals & Hospital Systems v. Continental Cas. Co., 109 S.W.3d 96 (Tex. App. – Austin 2003, pet. denied). The Commission’s  one-year rule limitation for filing requests for medical fee dispute resolution was applicable to allow rejection of the hospital’s claims for additional reimbursement. The decision assists in the timely filing of medical fee disputes.
• Hefley v. Sentry Insur.  Co., 131 S.W.3d 63 (Tex. App. – San Antonio, 2003, pet. denied). – The Court found that a former Commission Advisory “…acknowledged the law regarding finality of judgments…” and that a separate appellate court decision’s precedential value would be limited 
until the judicial process had been completed in that case. The Court, also, found that the injured employee did not raise a Tex. Lab. Code § 409.021 (c) wavier argument during the administrative dispute process and, therefore, he could not raise that issue for the first time in judicial review. 
The decision helps clarify the law when a non-final court decision otherwise would have the effect of altering or negating existing agency rules. 
• Wingfoot Enterprises v. Alvarado, 111 S.W.3d 134 (Tex. 2003) - In Wingfoot, the Texas Supreme Court held that an employee of a temporary employment agency who is "injured while working under the direct supervision of a client company is conducting the business of both the general 
employer [the temporary employment agency] and that employer's client."  The Court also held that based on the provisions of the Act, that  the injured "employee should be able to pursue workers' compensation benefits from either," and that "if either has elected not to provide 
coverage, but still qualifies as an 'employer' under the Act, then that employer should be subject to common law liability without the benefit of the defenses enumerated in  Tex. Lab. Code §406.033." 

• Tex. Employees’ Comp. Comm’n. v. Patient Advocates of Tex., 136 S.W.3d 643 (Tex. 2004)  The Court found that the Commission’s 1996 Medical Fee Guideline rule at 28 Tex. Admin. Code §134.201 and its “audit and dispute” rules formerly published at 28 Tex. Admin. Code §§ 133.301 
- .305 were valid rules establishing maximum  allowable reimbursement amounts, a one-year limitation for filing request for medical fee dispute resolution, and insurance carrier responsibilities for initially establishing “fair and reasonable” reimbursement amounts, under the criteria of Tex. Lab. Code § 413.011(d), when the services in a dispute were not covered by a specific fee guideline. The decision supports current, separate rule concepts for fee guideline rules, time deadlines for filing medical disputes, and the “fair and reasonable” current “default” fee guideline rule.
• Tex. Med. Ass’n. v. Tex. Workers’ Comp. Comm’n., 137 S.W.2d 342 (Tex. App. – Austin, 2004, no pet.)  The Court found that the Commission’s 2002, Medicare-based Medical Fee Guideline rule at 28 Tex. Admin. Code § 134.202 was a valid rule and was not an unlawful delegation to a federal agency and that a supplemental, adoption  rule preamble, in response to the trial court’s remand under Tex. Gov’t Code §2001.040, did not require a new rule proposal preamble to be published. The decision supports current, separate rule concepts for fee guideline rules and upheld the Legislature’s direction for medical fees in the Texas workers’ compensation system to be based on Medicare’s payment methodology.
• Tex. Workers’ Comp. Comm’n., v. East Side Surgical Center,  142 S.W.3d 541 (Tex. App. – Austin, 204, no pet.) The Court found that the Commission’s rules addressing criteria and procedures for insurance carriers to initially  establish “fair and reasonable” reimbursement amounts were not invalid delegations of authority to those insurance carriers. The Court also found that a health care provider has no right to require the agency to promulgate a specific fee guideline by rule rather than utilizing the default “fair and reasonable” fee guideline. The decision supports the current “fair and reasonable” rule at 28 Tex. Admin. Code § 134.1(f) and (g).
• Howell v.  Tex. Workers’ Comp. Comm’n.,  143 S.W.3d 416 (Tex. App. – Austin, 2004, pet. denied)  The Court found that a workers’ compensation health care provider cannot sue insurance carriers in various Texas courts for additional payments on employees’ medical bills without first exhausting the medical dispute administrative remedies available under the Workers’ Compensation Act and rules. The decision helps to ensure more standardized reimbursements and lower system costs due to fewer cases of judicial review and only in Travis County district courts.
• Schade v. Tex. Workers’ Comp. Comm’n.,  150 S.W.3d 542 (Tex. App. – Austin, 2004, pet. denied)  The Court affirmed the Commission’s authority to conduct a “desk review” of five, selected injured employee patient files of a participating doctor and to require responses from the doctor to an agency questionnaire on the doctor’s business practices. The agency’s authority was based upon its implied authority under Tex. Lab. Code Chapter 413 and upon federal case law on administrative subpoenas and because the specific  request for documents and responses to the doctor met the Court’s specified requirements for such subpoenas. 
• In re Tex. Mut. Insur. Co., 157 S.W.3d 75 (Tex. App. – Austin, 204, no pet.)  The Court found that a sub-claimant for medical services reimbursement under Tex. Lab. Code § 409.009 must first exhaust its administrative medical dispute remedies before a trial court has jurisdiction to consider its contract claims for workers’ compensation benefits. This decision helps to ensure lower system costs by avoiding premature and  costly litigation in courts throughout Texas on workers’ compensation medical bill reimbursements.
• Tex. Workers’ Comp. Comm’n. v. Harris  County, 132 S.W.3d 139 (Tex. App. – Houston 2004, no pet.)  The Court held that even when the agency’s Appeals Panel does not address the merits of a party’s appeal, no mechanism in the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act allows trial court to remand back to the Appeals Panel. The decision helps to shorten the Tex. Lab. Code Chapter 410 dispute resolution process and alleviate additional  administrative dispute work that would have been necessary on remanded cases.
• Krueger v. Atascosa County, 155 S.W.3d 614 (Tex. App. – San Antonio 2004, no pet.)  The Court found that a party seeking judicial review of an adverse administrative dispute decision on a particular issue must first appeal that adverse ruling to the agency’s Appeals Panel. In addition, 
the Court held that an injured employee’s ignorance of the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act’s claim filing deadline is not “good cause” under Tex. Lab. Code § 409.004 to extend that deadline.

• Garza v. Exel Logistics, Inc. 161 S.W.3d 473 (Tex. 2005). Both a temporary employment agency and its client company must establish they are “covered by workers’ compensation insurance coverage” to utilize the exclusive remedy provisions of Tex. Lab. Code § 408.001(a). 
• Skilled Craftmen of Tex., Inc.  v. Tex. Workers’ Comp. Comm’n., 158 S.W.3d 89 (Tex. App. – Austin 2005, pet. denied)  Clarified that the agency’s notification of a workers’ compensation participating employer as hazardous without any penalty (due to rate of injuries exceeding the industry norm) was preempted by the federal Occupational Safety & Health Act. After this case decision, the Texas Legislature repealed the former Hazardous Employer Program in Tex. Lab.  Code Chapter 411, Subchapter D.  
• Zurich Am. Insur. Co. v. Gill, 173 S.W.3d 878 (Tex. App. – Ft. Worth 2005, pet. denied)  An insurance carrier waives any dispute of compensability if it does not timely contest compensability even if the claimed workers’ compensation injury was not an occupational injury and the injured employee did not timely notify her employer of her injury. 
• Tex. Mut. Insur. Co. v. Eckerd Corp., 162 S.W.3d 261 (Tex. App. – Austin 2005, pet. denied)  An insurance carrier could not sue certain pharmacies or their agents or assigns for alleged pharmacy prescription overpayments prior to exhausting their administrative medical fee dspute refund remedies at the agency. 
• In re Hartford Underwriters Insur. Co., 168 S.W.3d 293 (Tex. App. Eastland, 2005, no pet.) Issue of judicial review of agency’s award of  attorney fees in a Tex. Lab. Code Chapter 410 proceeding must be brought in a Travis County  district court under Tex. Lab. Code § 410.255 rather than a court in the county where the injured employee resided at the time of the injury under Tex. Lab. Code § 410.301. 
• State Office of Risk Management v. Conley, 2005 (Tex. App. Waco 2005, pet. denied)  The Court affirmed the agency’s Appeals Panel decision and the trial court’s judgment that the State Office of Risk Management was not entitled to reduce or suspend impairment income benefits to recoup a $8,308.95 overpayment because it could show no statutory authority to do so. 
• American Cas. Co. of Reading, PA v. Hill, 194 S.W.3d 162 (Tex. App.  Dallas 2006, no pet.)  A trial court may change an injured employee’s date of maximum medical improvement from the date found by the agency’s dispute resolution process but the Tex. Workers’ Compensation Act 
prevents the trial court from considering new evidence of the extent of impairment. 
• Tex. Mut. Insur. Co. v. Tex. Dep’t. of Insur., Div. of Workers’ Comp., 214 S.W.3d 613 (Tex. App. – Austin 2006, no pet.)  The Court held that, even though the Texas Department of Insurance has combined workers’ compensation and employer’s liaibility coverages into a standard form policy, 
the Division has no jurisdiction to determine the effective date of the standard policy’s coverage period for employer’s liability coverage. 
• Mid Century Insur. Co. v. Tex. Workers’ Comp. Comm’n., 187 S.W.3d 754 (Tex. App – Austin 2005, no pet.)  A 2001 amendment to the former Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission rule at 28 Tex. Admin. Code § 131.1 (concerning  Lifetime Income Benefits being payable retroactively from the date of disability) was declared invalid because Tex. Lab. Code § 408.161 does not permit payment of such benefits prior  to the date the employee suffers one of the conditions specified in that statute. 
• GuideOne Insur.  Co. v. Cupps, 207 S.W.3d 900 (Tex. App. – Ft. Worth 2006, pet. denied) Workers’ Compensation insurance carriers must  exhaust their administrative dispute remedies before they may sue an injured employee for fraudulently obtaining Supplemental Income Benefits. 
• Tex. Dept. of Insur., Div. of Employees’ Comp. v. Lumbermens Mut. Cas. Co., 212 S.W.3d 870 (Tex. App. – Austin, 2006, pet. denied)  Former Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission Advisories 2003-10 and 2003-10B were invalid because they were contrary to the “Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment” published by the American Medical Association as made applicable by Tex. Lab. Code § 408.124. 
• Alexander v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 188 S.W.3d 348 (Tex. App. – Ft. Worth 2006, pet. denied) An insurance carrier’s failure to file a dispute of compensability within the 60-day period after it received notice of the injury waived its “course and scope” issue even though the agency’s 
Contested Case Hearing officer found that the  injured employee willfully intended to injure himself by staging the staircase injury. However, the waiver would not have occurred if no injury had been found. 
• Am.  Home Assur. Co. v. Kristy Bayless and the Tex. Workers’ Comp. Comm’n., 353rd Judicial District Ct. of Travis County, Tex., Cause No. GN203491  Judge John K. Dietz’s Final Judgment of Aug. 3, 2006 found that Tex. Lab.  Code § 408.026 (“Powers & Duties of benefit review officer”) was constitutional and that Tex. Lab.  Code § 410.255 (providing for “substantial evidence” review rather than “modified  de novo” review for certain disputed issues) did not unconstitutionally deny a right to trial by jury in the context of an issue of whether proposed spinal surgery was medically necessary. 
• Tex. Prop. & Cas. Guar. Ass’n. v. Nat. Am. Insur. Co., 208 S.W.3d 523 (Tex. App. – Austin 2006, pet. denied) Disputed issue of which of two employers was the employer at the time of the employees were injured is an issue of compensability within the “modified  de novo” review standard of Tex. Lab. Code § 410.301 rather than the “substantial evidence” review standard of Tex. Lab. Code § 410.255. 
• Tex. Workers’ Comp. Comm’n. v. Horton, 187 S.W.3d 282 (Tex. App. – Beaumont 2006, no pet.)  The trial court did not have subject matter jurisdiction to grant a temporary injunction against the agency requiring it to reinstate a physician to its Approved Doctor List. The duty to provide 
reasonable and necessary care does not require the agency to provide care by a particular physician. 
• Tex. Muni. League v. Burns, 209 S.W.3d 806 (Tex. App. – Ft. Worth 2006, no pet.)  The 40-day deadline in Tex. Lab.  Code § 410.252(a) to file a petition for judicial review of an agency’s Appeals Panel decision is mandatory and jurisdictional but may be equitably tolled in a misidentification of insurer case under certain, specified conditions not present in this case. 
• Newsom v. Ballinger Indep. Sch. Dist., 213 S.W.3d 375 (Tex. App. - Austin 2006, no pet.) - In Newsom, the Third Court held that judgments that are void for failing to meet the requirements of Tex. Lab. Code § 410.258 will nonetheless become final once the district court's plenary jurisdiction expires 
• Metropolitan Transit Authority v. Jackson, 212 S.W.3d 797 (Tex. App. - Houston [1st] 2006, pet. den.) - In  Jackson, the First Court held that judgments that are void for failing to meeting the requirements of Tex. Lab. Code § 410.258 can  never become final.  The court reasoned that because Section 410.258 is jurisdictional any failure to comply with its provisions deprives a court of subject matter jurisdiction, and judgments void for subject matter jurisdiction can never become final.  This decision is in direct conflict with the Third Court's decision in Newsom v. Ballinger Independent School District.

• Morales v. Liberty Mut. Insur.  Co., 241 S.W.3d 514 (Tex. 2007)   Disputed issue of an injured employees’ employment status (independent contractor vs. an employee) is a question of compensability within Tex. Lab. Code § 410.301(a) rather than the “other issues” “substantial evidence’ review procedures in Tex. Lab. Code § 410.255. 
• Centre Insur. Co. v. Pollitt, 242 S.W.3d 112 (Tex. App. – Eastland 2007, pet. denied) Unless an injured employee has or is scheduled for spinal surgery during the 104-week period after income benefits begin to accrue, the legislature has imposed a two-year deadline for reaching maximum medical improvement even if the injured employee’s condition substantially worsens (10% impairment rating vs. alleged 26% impairment rating). 
• HealthSouth Med. Ctr. V. Employers Insur.  Co., 232 S.W. 3d 828 (Tex. App. – Dallas 2007, pet. denied) A health care provider must exhaust its remedies under Tex. Lab. Code §413.031 after the agency’s dismissal of its medical fee dispute before it can sue for additional reimbursement 
under a contract between the health care provider, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier, and an informal workers’ compensation health care network.
• Vega v. Silva and Mid-American Services, 223 S.W.3d 746 (Tex. App. - Dallas 2007, no pet.). - In  Vega, the Fifth Court held that pursuant to Tex. Lab. Code §§ 91.006 and 91.042 if a staff leasing company has a workers' compensation insurance policy that covers employees leased to a client company, then that policy also applies  to the client company.  Thus, both the client company and leasing company would be employers under Tex. Lab. Code § 408.001, meaning injured leased employees sole remedy against both employers would be a workers' compensation claim. 

• Southwestern Bell Tele. Co. v. Mitchell, 2008 Tex. LEXIS 1141, 52 Tex. Sup. Ct. J. 202 (Tex. 2008)  The Court overruled its decision in Continental Cas. Co. v. Downs, 81 S.W.3d 803 (Tex. 2002) and held that an insurance carrier that fails to comply with Tex. Lab. Code § 409.021(a) requirements to begin paying any applicable benefits or give written notice of refusal to do so within seven days of receiving notice of injury does not waive its right to contest compensability if it does contest compensability within the 60-day period of § 409.021 (c). 
• Tex. Mut. Insur. Co. v. Ledbetter, 251 S.W.3d 31 (Tex. 2008)  Tex. Lab. Code Chapter 417 means that “…the compensation insurance carrier gets the first money an employee receives from a tortfeasor…” even if the tortfeasor settlement provides otherwise.  
• Hartford Insur. Co. v. Crain,  246 S.W.3d 374 (Tex. App. – Austin, 2008, no pet.)  Judicial review under Tex. Lab. Code § 410.255 affects the manner of conducting judicial review (i.e. “substantial evidence” review rather than “modified  de novo” review) but does not affect the § 410.252, 40-day deadline for filing a petition for judicial review. 
• Combined Specialty Insur. Co. v. Deese, 266 S.W.3d 653 (Tex. App. – Dallas  2008, no pet.)  A party must timely appeal an agency’s hearing officer’s adverse decision to the agency’s Appeals Panel and an appeal notice is timely if mailed within the 15-day period after receipt of the hearing officer’s decision and the faxed copy is received within the20-day period after receipt of the decision. 
• Frank v. Liberty Insurl. Corp.,  255 S.W.3d 314 (Tex. App. – Austin 2008, pet. denied) The agency’s rules required it to send notice of its hearing officer’s decision both to the injured employee and any legal counsel for that employee. When the agency did not send a copy to that legal counsel, the deemed receipt provisions of the agency’s rules did not apply to the agency’s notice to the injured employee. Therefore, the legal counsel’s request for an appeal was timely when it was made on the same day she called and first received a fax copy of the hearing officer’s decision. 
• Tex. Dep’t. of Insur., Div. of Workers’ Comp. v. Insur. Council of Tex., 2008 Tex. App. LEXIS 2024 (Tex. App. – Austin 2008, no pet.) (mem. op.) The Division’s rule at 28 Tex. Admin. Code § 133.309 [i.e. creating an alternative, less-expensive medical necessity dispute process for smaller-dollar disputes under Tex. Lab. Code § 413.031(n)] was invalid because it did not allow for an appeal to receive  a Contested Case Hearing at the State Office of Administrative Hearings and for judicial review as required by Tex. Lab. Code § 413.031(k) and (k-1). 
• Tex. Mut. Insur. Co. v. Havard, 2008 Tex. App. LEXIS 1614 (Tex. App. – Austin, 2008, no pet.) and Tex. Mut. Insur. Co. v. Adkins, 2008 Tex. App. – San Antonio 2008, no pet.)  Both courts found that “intoxication” under Tex. Lab. Code § 406.032(1)(A), for use of a controlled substance, ha no statutory level or test that establishes per se when a person has lost use of his or her physical or mental faculties and, there, is subject to a “relatively subjective” test. 
• McClelland v. Gronwaldt, 2008 Tex. App. LEXIS 164 (Tex. App. – Beaumont 2008, pet. denied) An employer is protected by the exclusive remedy provision of Tex. Lab. Code § 408.001(a) even if the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy was a sham due to various side 
agreements with various insurers.  
• Wilson v. Tex. Workers’ Comp. Comm’n., 2008 Tex. App. LEXIS 9510 (Tex. App. – Austin, 2008, no pet.) and Lee v.  Tex. Employees’ Comp. Comm’n., 272 S.W.3d 806 (Tex. App. – Austin 2008, no pet.) Both courts found that the agency’s denial of a doctor’s application to the Approved Doctor List, as it existed after Sept. 1, 2003 through Aug. 31, 2007, due to quality-ofcare issued identified by the agency’s Medical Quality Review Panel, did not deprive either doctor of a property interest without first providing him a hearing because the doctor had no constitutionally protected property right to participate in the workers’ compensation system.
• Tex. Prop. & Cas. Insur. Guar. Ass’n. v. Brooks, 269 S.W.3d 645 (Tex. App. – Austin 2008, no pet.) Tex. Lab. Code § 410.258 requires that a  party who initiates judicial review (of a final Chapter 410 agency dispute decision) must file with the Division, not later than the 30th  day before the court is scheduled to enter judgment, any proposed judgment or settlement made by the parties to the proceeding or the judgment or settlement is void. The Court held that § 410.258 applies only to “judgments ‘made by the parties’ – i.e. without judicial oversight or without fully adversarial proceedings – and settlement agreements made by the parties.” The Court’s decision is contrary to Insur. Co. of the State of PA v. Martinez, 18 S.W.3d 844 (Tex. App. – El Paso 200, no pet.). 
• Childers v.  Gallagher Bassett Services, Inc., 2008 Tex. App. LEXIS 2474 (Tex. App. – Ft.  Worth 208, pet. denied)  The accrual of a two-year statute of limitations for “bad faith” allegations against an insurance carrier or its  agent begins on the date the insurer wrongfully denies coverage and does not await the outcome of the exhaustion of the necessary administrative dispute process. 
• Tex. Mutual Insur. Co. v. Vista Community Medical Center, LLP, 275 S.W.3d 538 (Tex. App. - Austin, 2008, pet. filed).  In Vista, The Third Court interpreted the "stop-loss" provisions of the 1997 hospital acute care, inpatient fee guideline [former 28 TAC sec. 134.401(c)(6)]: (a) to permit insurance carriers' audit of hospital charges as permitted by applicable Division rules; (b) to prohibit insurance carriers from reducing charges for implantables, orthotics, and prosthetics to cost plus 10% when determining if the "stop-loss" provisions apply; and (c) to require that for a hospital to be eligible for reimbursement under the Stop-Loss Exception, the hospital’s total audited charges must exceed $40,000 and the underlying admission must involve unusually costly or unusually extensive services. The Court also found that a 2005 agency "Staff Report' was not an invalid rule and that the terms "unusually costly" and "unusually extensive" are not too vague or uncertain for use.  This case currently has a petition pending before the Texas Supreme Court and may affect hundreds of pending medical fee dispute cases at the Division and in Travis County district court. 
• Texas Mutual Insurance Company v. Ruttiger, 265 S.W.3d 651 (Tex. App. - Houston [1st] 2008, pet. filed) - In Ruttiger, the First Court held that when parties enter into a binding benefit dispute agreement pursuant to Tex. Lab. Code §§ 410.029 and 410.030, that agreement exhausts the 
parties' administrative remedies for all issues settled in the agreement.  Furthermore, the court held that in a bad faith claim against an insurer, a claimant may recover damages for additional aggravated injuries caused by the workers' compensation carrier's misconduct.  A petition for 
review of this case has been filed with the Texas Supreme Court, and its final disposition will affect the binding effect and finality of all future Division benefit dispute agreements.

• State Office of Risk Management v. Foutz, 2009 Tex. App. LEXIS 381 (Tex. App. – Eastland 2009) The Court affirmed the basis of the trial  court’s mandatory sanctions against the State Office of Risk Management (SORM) for filing  a frivolous lawsuit seeking the overturn of the agency’s decision of compensable injury by a correctional officer because SORM had no reasonable basis for its lawsuit. The Court found that the officer’s “[w]itnessing an attack [on one inmate by another inmate], learning within minutes that it was fatal, and subsequent feeling of guilt for not preventing the victim’s death are not separate causes of mental trama …[but] are all directly attributable to a single event: the attack … witnessed.”  
• Am. Protection Insur. Co. v. Leordeanu, 2009 Tex. App. LEXIS 1063 (Tex. App. – Austin 2009, no pet.) The Court affirmed a Division’s Contested Case Hearing decision that an injured employee did not have a compensable injury because, under the “dual purpose rule” based upon Tex. Lab.  Code § 401.011(12)(B), travel for both personal and business-related purposes is not in the course and scope of employment “…unless (1) the travel to the place of occurrence of the injury would have been made even had there been no personal or private affairs of the employee to be furthered by the travel; and (2) the travel would not have been made had there been no affairs or business of the employer to be fulfilled by the travel.” 
• State Office of Risk Management v. Lawton, No. 08-0363, 2009 Tex. LEXIS 629 (Tex. Aug. 28, 2009) - In  Lawton, the Texas Supreme Court overruled the Tenth Court’s previous decision in State Office of Risk Management v. Lawton, 256 S.W.3d 436 (Tex. App. - Waco 2008, pet. granted) and held that the sixty-day period for challenging compensability of an injury under Texas Labor Code § 409.021(c) does not apply to a dispute over the extent of injury even if the basis for that dispute could have been discovered by a reasonable investigation within the waiver period.  This decision affects the Division's current application of 28 Tex. Administrative Code, Section 124.3. 
• Entergy Gulf States, Inc. v. Summers, 282 S.W.3d 433 (Tex. 2009). - In  Entergy, the Texas Supreme Court held that premises owners can qualify as "general contractors" for the purposes of Tex. Lab. Code § 406.123.  Based on this conclusion, the Court further held that if premises owners do qualify as "general contractors" under Section 406.123, they are also entitled, as statutory employers, to immunity from common law tort claims by their employees. 
• HCBeck, Ltd. v. Rice, 284 S.W.3d 349 (Tex. 2009) - In Rice, the Texas Supreme Court held that a general contractor sufficiently "provides" workers' compensation insurance to the employees of a subcontractor for purposes of Tex. Lab. Code § 406.123 if the general contractor incorporates the 
landowner's owner controlled insurance plan into its contract with a subcontractor.  Thus, general contractors who provide workers' compensation insurance to subcontractor employees in this manner qualify as statutory employers of those employees and thus are immune to common law tort claims made by them. 

You should consult with an attorney concerning how workers compensation case law applies to your particular case.  The attorney can also advise you as to whether any of the above cases have been heard by a higher court, affirmed, remanded, or reversed, or the results over-rules by a subsequent court case with a different holding.

Source:  Texas Department of Insurance Division of Workers Compensation Self Evaluation Report to Sunset Advisory Commission, 2009

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