Who Has Jurisdiction Over Interstate Truck Driver’s Claim?
An interstate truck driver from Florida worked for Joe Tex, a Texas company. He was temporarily in Ohio to pick up machinery when he was struck by a bungee cord and sustained numerous injuries to his left eye.
The driver filed a workers’ compensation claim in Ohio. The Industrial Commission allowed his claim. Joe Tex appealed.
It was undisputed that Joe Tex purchased a third-party insurance policy in compliance with Texas law whereby the driver received disability income, dismemberment benefits, and medical expenses. Under Texas law, an employer can be a lawful non-subscriber to its workers’ compensation system by purchasing such a policy.
Workers are not covered under Ohio workers’ compensation if the worker is a resident of a state other than Ohio, he is insured in a state other than Ohio, and he is temporarily within Ohio. The driver argued that he was not similarly covered by the workers’ compensation laws of Texas. Joe Tex asserted that because the driver received benefits under the third-party insurance policy and Texas does not require employers to subscribe to the workers’ compensation system, the driver was similarly covered and received benefits under Texas law.
The trial court found that the driver was entitled to participate in the Ohio workers’ compensation system. Joe Tex appealed.
The court found that a Texas employer that declines to participate in the workers’ compensation system and instead opts to obtain private insurance is not subject to the same standards as an employer that elects to participate in the workers’ compensation fund.
By Joe Tex purchasing a third-party insurance policy, the driver was removed from the procedural protections of Texas workers’ compensation laws. Ohio does not have an option for employers to purchase a third-party insurance policy instead of participating in its workers’ compensation system. Therefore, the court found the driver was not covered by a similar law in Texas and could participate in the Ohio workers’ compensation system.
B is incorrect. The court explained that even though the driver, a Florida resident, was only temporarily in Ohio, he was entitled to participate in the Ohio workers’ compensation system because he was not insured under the workers’ compensation law or similar laws of another state.
C is incorrect. Although Joe Tex was a lawful non-subscriber in Texas, the court pointed out that an employee of a non-subscriber does not receive the benefit of exclusive remedies provided by Texas law. Because the driver was not covered by a similar workers’ compensation law in Texas, he was entitled to participate in the Ohio workers’ compensation system.
How the court ruled: A. The Ohio Court of Appeals held that the driver was entitled to benefits in Ohio because he was not covered by a similar workers’ compensation law in Texas.
Linardos v. Joe Tex, Inc., et al., No. CA2013-08-067 (Ohio Ct. App. 10/13/14).
Editor’s note: This feature is not intended as instructional material or to replace legal advice.