Unlike other states, Texas permits employers to opt out of providing workers’ compensation benefits. However, to discourage employers from taking advantage of this option, the legislature eliminated some of the powerful defenses that they would otherwise have to a worker’s claim of negligence for workplace injuries. However, employers are not defenseless in these cases, and one defense that they can still raise is that the injury did not arise in the course and scope of the worker’s employment.
What Does the 'Course and Scope of Employment' Mean?
Under Texas law, employers are only responsible for providing workers with a safe work environment when they are acting within the course and scope of their employment. The purpose of this law makes sense. An employer should only be responsible for a worker’s safety when he is on the work clock. Employers are not liable if a worker is injured during non-work hours or when he leaves work during the day to go to a child’s school event, doctor appointment, or another similar personal duty. In other words, employers are not liable when the worker is not acting in the course and scope of employment.
While in some cases it is clear cut whether the person was working or not at the time of his injury, in other cases it is not. Here are situations where it is unclear if an employee is acting in the course and scope of his employment:
- The employee’s shift was over, but he stayed a few minutes over to complete a task he was working on and injured himself.
- The employee punched out at the end of the day, but he stayed late to visit with a co-worker and maybe even talked about something work-related before he suffered an injury.
- An employer asked an employee to do a job-related or personal errand for him on the employee’s way home from work. The employee was hurt in a car crash.
- An employee was travelling between work sites and decided to do a personal errand on his way to his next job. While driving to do his errand, he was involved in a vehicle wreck. What happens if he was on the same route as if he were going to the next work site?
In these questionable scenarios, an employer would most likely claim that the employee was not within the course and scope of employment when the injury occured. If your employer is trying to raise this defense to deny your claim for compensation following a workplace injury, you need the help of an experienced workplace injury attorney to hold him accountable. To learn about your legal options and how the Hart Law Firm can help you fight for the compensation that you deserve, contact us online or call us directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule your free consultation.
We help injured victims throughout Texas including Arlington, North Richland, Grapevine, Bedford, Hurst, Euless, Irving and all points in between.