Disney World in Orlando might seem to be a strange place for a conversation about Workers' Compensation in Texas, but it was the right setting for a recent conversation I had with a man who, like me, was looking for a bright sunny spot in the morning cool to sit while his grandkids rode a nearby ride. I found out how serious the lack of Workers' Compensation is on jobs other than construction.
Like my dad, the baker, I've never met a stranger, and this man was no exception. He walked with a cane, and we both shared the same spot of early morning sun. When I asked where he was from, he responded, “Houston.” What a coincidence since we were from Houston as well. He said that he was on Spring break with his family. (Who wasn’t?)
With a little prompting, Octavio (the only name I know) launched into his story. He was recovering from being shot five times by four men who robbed the bar where he was working as an unarmed security guard. He pointed to his cheek, where the .22 shot entered his face, and then to the exit wound in the back of his head, where the surgeons had removed part of his damaged brain. He then showed me the four other wounds in his torso, where the other bullets had done their damage, and told me that he still had a couple of rounds in his body.
Octavio told me that he had been taken to Ben Taub Hospital in Houston, the top Level 1 Trauma Center in the Southwest. He had been in a coma for 20 days and when he awoke, he was partially paralyzed and facing a long recovery. He told me that he found out that his employer denied that they had workers' compensation even though he had been told that they had insurance on their “employees.”
He was proud to tell me that Noticias Channel 45 in Houston had done a story on him to tell of his struggles and that he had given his testimony about the reason why he survived his injuries. The Channel 45 report tells that the company that hired Octavio, National Regulation Security, had gone out of business two days after the incident had occurred rather than to live up to its promises.
We talked for a few minutes longer and then we wished him Godspeed. He is truly a survivor.
We have written about the issues with workers' comp and the 1099 workers in the construction industry, but Octavio’s story shows that the issue is wider spread than you might expect.
You can see the Channel 45 report and see this walking miracle in the video below: