On August 28th the Supreme Court of Texas handed down a decision in a long battled workers’ compensation dispute. In Dallas National Insurance Co. v. Gloria De La Cruzthe court denied lifetime workers’ compensation income benefits to the plaintiff on the grounds that workers’ compensation benefits can only be paid out for workplace injuries that meet a very narrow criteria. The decision re-emphasizes the difficulty in fighting the battle for full and fair compensation for injured Texas employees. It also shows the importance of an aggressive work injury attorney, who can diligently advocate on behalf of injured Texas workers.

The Background and Procedural History of Dallas National Insurance Co. v. Gloria De La Cruz

Ms. De La Cruz (the plaintiff) worked as a cook at an El Paso restaurant. In 2004, she sustained a serious on-the-job injury to her left knee and to her back. The restaurant’s insurer was a company called Dallas National Insurance. Following the injury, Dallas National paid out workers’ compensation benefits for her injured knee and back. In 2009, the plaintiff filed for lifetime workers’ compensation benefits claiming that she had lost the normal use of her feet as a result of the 2004 workplace injury. The Texas Division of Workers Compensation denied her claim, but both a district court and the Texas Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Ms. De La Cruz. Dallas National Insurance appealed the case to the Supreme Court of Texas, and last month the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the insurance company.

The Reasoning of The Supreme Court of Texas

The Court found that workers injured on the job in Texas can only recover lifetime compensation for long time injury if that injury is directly related to their workplace injury. The court made this case about different body parts. The court deemed that the plaintiffs injured foot was not eligible for lifetime benefits because it was not directly connected to the plaintiff’s workplace back and knee injuries. This is a very narrow interpretation of the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act.

The Importance of An Attorney

The court repeatedly emphasized the fact that the plaintiff’s foot injury could not be clearly connected to her earlier on-the-job back injury. Particularly noteworthy was the court opinion that the medical records provided by the plaintiff pertaining to the injured foot were “piecemeal” and “unexplained”. Future plaintiffs and their attorneys should pay close attention. If you sustain an injury on the job your medical records will not speak for themselves. This decision makes it clear that Texas courts will be very stringent when reviewing medical records and will interpret medical evidence in a narrow manner. An experienced Texas workers’ comp lawyer, who can efficiently analyze the medical evidence and use that evidence to construct an effective argument, can be essential to your case.

Contact An Experienced San Antonio Workers Compensation Lawyer

Workers’ compensation issues are often complicated and this case demonstrates how difficult it can be to recover full and fair compensation against a big insurance company. Every person injured in a workplace accident should be aware of their legal rights and options. If you, or a loved one, has been injured on the job, contact a work injury attorney today.