With over 50,000 men and women currently working as welders in Texas, the Lone Star State employs more welders than any other state. Many Texas welders work as pipefitters in the petroleum industry, but plenty of other industries also employ welders. While welding is a well-paid skilled trade with plenty of job opportunities, it can also be dangerous work. And given that employers in Texas can opt out of workers’ compensation insurance, welders have a recipe for a legal battle when they’re injured on the job.
Texas Workers’ Compensation Law
Workers’ compensation requirements are decided on the state level, so each state has its own rules. Texas is the only state in the country that does not require employers to carry workers’ comp insurance. However, employers who do choose to carry workers’ comp have almost total immunity from being sued by injured employees, so most companies opt in. The approximately 20 percent of companies that do not carry workers’ comp can be sued for compensation by employees injured on the job.
Parker Law Firm Represents Injured Welder
An excellent example of what can happen when a welder is injured and not covered by workers’ comp is a recent case of ours. Our client was employed by a temporary staffing agency and was placed at a steel mill in Midlothian. On the day he was injured, he was assigned to a new task by the production manager. Despite wearing a protective suit, his clothing underneath the suit was ignited by a hot spark from the work he was doing. The fire resulted in severe, third-degree burns on his back and shoulder area, six percent total nerve loss on his back, and extreme mental distress. His injuries required a six-hour skin graft surgery, using skin from his left thigh. He spent almost two weeks at Parkland Hospital in Dallas. As an employee of the temp agency, he was not covered by workers’ compensation insurance. His medical bills and other losses are significant, and we are representing him in his lawsuit for compensation.
Potential Welding Injuries
Welding is dangerous work, particularly for contract and temporary workers who are moved around frequently, are not familiar with the work environment, and are not given proper instructions. As we learned from our client, even when the welder is wearing proper safety gear, a serious injury can still occur. Some serious injuries welders frequently sustain include:
- Eye injuries. Injuries to the eyes are the most common workplace welding accident. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) and infrared light from the welding arc can scorch the retina and damage vision. Sparks and hot metal particles can also lodge in the eye and cause permanent damage.
- Burns. The UV rays emitted by the welding process that can damage the eyes can also burn exposed skin, much like a severe sunburn. Hot sparks and liquid metal can burn flesh as soon as they come in contact with it.
- Hearing damage. Excessive noise, high-pitched sounds, and flying debris common in welding environments can cause permanent hearing loss.
- Debilitating conditions. In the course of their work, welders inhale dangerous substances such as paint, solvent residue, smoke, manganese, and iron oxide, which can all cause a debilitating condition known as welder’s Parkinson’s, as well as chronic respiratory disease.
Welders who work for the 88 percent of companies that carry workers’ comp insurance in Texas will file a claim for benefits when they are injured on the job and unable to work. However, welders who work for non-subscriber companies, or those who fall through the cracks in coverage, will need to fight for compensation for medical bills and lost wages.
Call Parker Law Firm for a Free Consultation
If you were injured on the job in Texas and are not covered by workers’ comp, call our Bedford law office to schedule a free consultation to discuss your options. We do not take workers’ compensation cases, but we do represent injured employees who are not covered by workers’ comp. As an experienced personal injury firm, we bring a great deal of knowledge to workplace injury claims. Call us, or fill out the form on this page for a consultation.