Visitor Question

Is employer liable if injured while working for cash as a day laborer?

Submitted By: Sarah (Houston, TX)

My daughter’s dad, John, was working for cash as a day laborer, doing construction on houses in TX.

He got metal shards lodged in his eye and the guy refused to take him to an ER or do anything for him.

The guy took him home and stopped taking his calls.

John’s been to a clinic several times, they’ve removed all the metal out that they can, and say that he may not get his vision back because of deep tissue scarring.

He’s spent so much time at the clinic that he hasn’t been able to work much.

He’s about to lose the roof over his head and may never get his sight back in that eye. All of the workers are paid in cash, so they could potentially get in trouble testifying, if they don’t pay their taxes in the coming months.

John’s been working for this guy for at least 5 or 6 months. John’s work history is solid prior to being laid off earlier this year.

He was a mechanic and not sure he will ever be able to do his skilled trade again. I would like to help him find out what his options are, if any.

Any information you can give on how he can get medical coverage and compensation for his injuries would be much appreciated. Thanks.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Sarah,

This took a little research, but under Texas Labor Code (TLC), Chapter 408.041, and Sections 408.081.187 a worker is entitled to workers compensation benefits if during the year in which the worker makes the claim, he or she worked “13 consecutive weeks immediately preceding the date of injury.”

Sections 408.081.187 and Section 408.041 of the Texas Labor Code do not apply to independent contractors.

In your husband’s case, that would be workers who hire themselves out for specific and independent jobs, such as carpenters, plumbers, etc. These are contractors who normally sell their services to numerous general contractors. Many of them have their own businesses.

From the facts you present, your husband was not a subcontractor, but rather a “pure day laborer.” As such, if he fits within the 13 consecutive week work requirement, he should be covered by workers compensation benefits.

To file a complaint against his employer in an effort to receive workers comp benefits, your husband can go to the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) web site. There he can download the complaint form. His complaint will then be investigated, and if appropriate, his employer will be forced by the TDI to provide the benefits your husband is entitled.

Learn more here: Work Accident vs Third Party Claims

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


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