The Gods Must Be Crazy!

Workers' CompensationIn the almost already impossible realm of workers comp there is an area of case in law that allows the insurance carrier to remain not liable for compensation if the injury arose ouT of an “Act of God,” unless the employment exposes the injured worker to a “greater risk of injury from an act of God than ordinarily applies to the general public” Section 406.032(1(E)

By the term “act of God” as used herein is meant any accident that is due directly and exclusively to natural causes without human intervention and which no amount of foresight, pain or care, reasonably exercised, could have prevented. The act must be one occasioned by the violence of nature, and all human agency is to be excluded from creating or entering into the cause of the resulting mischief. The term implies the intervention of some cause not of human origin and not controlled by human power. [Emphasis added]. Transport Insurance Co. v. Liggins, 625 S.W.2d 780, 782-83 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 1981, writ ref’d n.r.e.).

What does this mean? The Appeals Panel (case law) has determined that it is up to the Administrative Law Judge to decide if what the injured worker was doing for his or her employment exposed the worker to a greater risk of injury from the act of God than the general public.

Insect bites, icy road conditions, slip/falling in water from a rain storm, in most cases, are not considered an act of God for purposes of liability on an insurance carrier. Getting struck by lighting, leaving the office to beat a bad storm when you are hit by a tornado are examples where the carrier would not be liable. The circumstances place you in the same danger as the general public, ie being outside in bad weather, or trying to get home like the rest of the general public.

I do not see these types of claims often, but in the recent months, there have been hurricanes, earthquakes, fires and floods, and its easily foreseeable that there are employees that get injured while at work due to these events. The injured worker has the burden of proof to establish that the employment exposes them to a greater risk from the act of God than ordinarily applies to the general public. This is a question of fact for the Administrative Law Judge to resolve. APD 002641

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To all the first responders and the volunteers, including Bailey & Galyen’s own Travis Wyatt who joined his father and uncle in rescue efforts to those stranded during Hurricane Harvey floods…we thank you! Be safe, but just in case…email or call our offices at 844-402-2992 regarding any questions you may have regarding a work related injury.