In any number of situations involving the law, baffling determinations are made. This can be especially true when dealing with workers compensation law.
Previously established statutes, rules and provisions regarding workers comp can easily become compromised or manipulated by the nuances of language, making it difficult to reach an objective and accurate resolution.
To help clear up some of the problems with interpretation of surrounding workers compensation rules and statutes, a legal concept known as “liberal construction”, coined in 1928, is applied. This concept allows many state statutes, including workers compensation laws, to be construed in a fashion that favors the injured employee. The effect is to give injured employees the benefit of the doubt when dealing with gray areas within state law.
The purpose of Worker’s Compensation statutes is to protect and serve injured employees. That said, participating in the workers compensation system requires the injured employee to forgo certain protections. Judicious use of this concept can compensate for this loss- protecting the worker’s interests when adjudicating their claims. A loose (or expansive) interpretation of the statutes is meant to assist the injured worker in any way reasonably possible.
In some instances, there may be facts presented as part of the case that the judge can disregard as being tangential or inconsequential. Occasionally this can result in all the facts of the case not being fully addressed and may at times even allow recovery with little or insufficient proof that an actual injury occurred. This can be frustrating and confusing for the professionals charged with coming to appropriate determinations.
Because of these issues, liberal construction has become something of a hot button issue, causing legislative clarifications to be written and code to be revised and strengthened. Section 312.006 of the code now says that:
“the revised statutes are the law of this state and shall be liberally construed to achieve their purpose and to promote justice.”
It is specifically noted that the common-law rule requiring strict construction does not apply to the revised statutes. Additionally, the Texas Supreme Court has further supported these revisions. Liberal Construction isn’t going away.
In baseball there is a long-standing rule that ties go to the runner. Under liberal construction, it is not only the ties that go to the injured employee, but close calls are to fall in their favor as well.
A clear comprehension of this complex legal concept can be of assistance in better understanding the puzzling rulings often reached in cases working their way through our workers compensation system.