Every working person has the right to expect that their employers will make their workplaces reasonably safe. Still, thousands are injured at work every year.
In the state of Texas, if you suffer an injury at (or related to) your job, your employer is probably obligated by law to help you obtain medical treatment and replace your lost wages.
That is, unless you are an independent contractor. Independent contractors are not legally defined as employees, so they do not qualify for Texas workers’ compensation benefits.
In most cases, however, an employer’s obligation to an employee with a job-related illness or injury is satisfied in Texas by workers’ compensation benefits.
ARE TEXAS EMPLOYERS REQUIRED TO HAVE WORKERS’ COMP INSURANCE?
Unlike many states, Texas does not require employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. However, without workers’ comp coverage for employees, “nonsubscribers” lose the protection that workers’ comp offers to employers.
If an employee is injured on the job working for a nonsubscriber in Texas, that employer can be sued and held liable for injuries and even in some cases for punitive damages.
In most cases, when you are recovering from a job-related illness or injury in Texas, workers’ compensation will pay for your medical treatment and for a percentage of your lost wages.
A mental condition is treated precisely the same way as a physical injury – under workers’ comp – if the condition is the result of your work.
EXACTLY WHICH INJURIES ARE JOB-RELATED?
When is or isn’t an injury job-related? In most cases, it is going to be obvious, but in some precisely-defined circumstances, it can be a tough call to make. Consider these examples:
1. Injuries that happen on lunch breaks usually are not defined as work-related, unless the injury happens in a company lunchroom or cafeteria or unless the employer is directly involved in some other way.
2. Injuries linked to alcohol usually are not deemed work-related, but if an injury happens at an employer event where alcohol is present – like a picnic or a holiday party – it may be a work-related injury.
3. If your work has made a preexisting injury or other medical condition worse, that worsened condition may be deemed a work-related injury.
By law in the state of Texas – as well as in Arizona and California – undocumented workers are specifically included under workers’ compensation coverage.
WHY WILL INJURED WORKERS IN TEXAS NEED AN ATTORNEY’S ADVICE?
Work-related injuries and illnesses can sometimes be undetectable or latent for weeks or even months and that can make it exceedingly difficult to determine if an injury is or is not job-related.
When you file a workers’ comp claim in Texas, have an injury attorney review your application for accuracy and thoroughness, and have that attorney recommend how you should proceed.
It’s imperative to get the legal advice and help you need if you are injured on the job. Especially if you are seriously injured, your health and your future must be your top priorities.
WHEN SHOULD YOU FILE A WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CLAIM?
Do not wait to file a workers’ compensation claim. Do it immediately after you’ve been examined by a healthcare professional. If you wait, your worker’s comp benefits could be delayed or even possibly denied.
In the greater San Antonio area, if you are injured on the job, consult a personal injury lawyer who also handles worker’s compensation claims.
Working people in Texas should know that workers’ compensation – with its limited benefits – is not always the only remedy available for a work-related injury in this state.
DO INJURED WORKERS IN TEXAS HAVE OTHER COMPENSATION OPTIONS?
In fact, in many workplace injury cases in this state, a number of third parties apart from the employer may have some liability for an employee’s injuries.
In other words, if a party other than your employer had any responsibility for your job-related injury, that third party can be sued for damages.
And you will need the maximum available damages if you’ve sustained a traumatic brain injury, a severe spinal cord injury, an injury requiring amputation, or any other catastrophic or permanently disabling injury.
A third party may be an individual, company, contractor, property owner, manufacturer, or even a local government responsible for a workplace hazard.
If you were injured at work in Texas because a product you were using was defective, you may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer or even against the retailer of the product.
If you were injured at work in Texas by a negligent driver while you were driving a company-owned vehicle, that driver (or his or her auto insurance company) may be targeted for a personal injury claim.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR RIGHTS?
An experienced San Antonio personal injury lawyer will review your circumstances at no cost and with no obligation and provide the sound, candid legal advice you need.
If your attorney recommends filing a third party personal injury or product liability claim, let that attorney fight on your behalf. You’ll pay no legal fees until and unless you receive a settlement or verdict.
And even if you do not have a third-party personal injury claim, you may qualify for one of these federal programs instead of or in addition to Texas workers’ compensation benefits:
1. The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act covers non-military federal employees.
2. The Merchant Marine Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act protect maritime workers from employer negligence.
3. The Federal Employment Liability Act holds negligent railroads accountable for employees’ injuries.
4. The Black Lung Benefits Act compensates coal miners with black lung disease.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR WORKPLACE SAFETY?
The legal obligation for workplace safety falls on employers, but safety is genuinely everyone’s responsibility.
Whether you work in a daycare center or on a construction site – or wherever you work – keep your own work area safe and report potentially hazardous situations immediately.
If you are injured at work or become ill because of your work, consult immediately with a personal injury attorney who can advise you regarding the worker’s compensation process and determine if you have a third-party personal injury claim.
Consider your work, your health, your family, and your future. If you are injured on the job, you must have the resources to meet your responsibilities, so it’s imperative – and it is your right – to get the legal help you need.