03/16/2015 // Dallas, Texas, United States // Attorney Keith Clouse // Keith Clouse // (press release)
The Texas Supreme Court recently ruled in a case involving workers’ compensation benefits. In re Crawford & Co., No. 14-0256 (Tex. Feb. 27, 2015), available at http://www.txcourts.gov/media/872913/140256.pdf. An employee suffered on-the-job injuries and began receiving lifetime workers’ compensation benefits. Disputes over those benefits arose, however, and the employee and his wife filed a lawsuit, alleging both tort and contract claims. The insurance company alleged that the trial court abused its discretion when it refused to dismiss claims over which the Division of Workers’ Compensation had exclusive jurisdiction. The Court agreed.
The Court determined that the Division of Workers’ Compensation had exclusive jurisdiction over the couple’s claims and that the Workers’ Compensation Act provided their exclusive remedies because the claims arose out of the insurance company’s investigation, handling, or settling of a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. The Court concluded that the relevant statute bars such claims, even if the claims are recast in other ways, such as claims for malicious prosecution or intentional infliction of emotional distress. Accordingly, a trial court must look to the substance of a claim in determining whether the administrative process provides the only means of relief.
This article is presented by the Dallas employment attorneys at Clouse Dunn LLP. To speak to an employment law attorney, send an email to [email protected] or call (214) 239-2705.
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