Most states require employers to have workers’ compensation insurance, but Texas does not have such a requirement. While many employers choose to purchase workers’ compensation—because it is in their best interests do to do so—some do not choose to protect their businesses in this way. These employers are known as “non-subscribers.”
As an employee, you may be able to recover compensation for a work-related injury if your employer subscribes to workers’ compensation insurance or if your employer is a non-subscriber. However, the procedures for pursuing compensation and the damages that you may receive are different. Therefore, before you take action it is important to know the difference and how best to protect your potential recovery.
What You Can Recover in a Workers’ Compensation Case
If your employer has purchased workers’ compensation insurance, then you must file a claim with the insurance company if you are hurt at work. You do not have the right to file a lawsuit against your employer directly, but you do have the right to recover damages from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer. If your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance, then this is your only path to a legal and financial recovery (unless you can prove that the employer’s intentional or grossly negligent actions caused an employee’s death and you are the spouse or heir of the employee).
Specifically, in a workers’ compensation case you may be able to recover:
- Medical expenses. These expenses should be paid directly by your employer’s insurer to the health care provider(s) that provide your treatment.
- Income benefits. This will replace some of your wages while you are injured or sick. The exact amount is determined by the state.
- Burial benefits. If your loved one has died because of a work-related injury or illness, then some of his burial costs may be covered.
- Death benefits. Certain family members may be able to recover a portion of the wages that an employee who has died because of work-related incident may no longer earn.
Unfortunately, while Texas law allows you to recover these damages, many insurance companies will try to minimize your recovery so you will need to actively pursue your fair recovery.
What You Can Recover in a Non-Subscriber case
If your employer does not subscribe to workers’ compensation insurance, then you have the right to sue your employer for damages if you are hurt at work. These damages may include compensation for all of your past, current, and future injuries related to your work-related accident, such as:
- Medical expenses. As in a workers’ compensation case, all of your medical expenses should be covered.
- Lost income. Unlike a workers’ compensation case, up to 100% of your lost income may be compensated in a non-subscriber case. This includes any claim for your future diminished earning capacity, which is not recoverable in workers’ compensation claim.
- Pain and suffering. Compensation for physical pain and emotional suffering is not recoverable in workers’ compensation case, but it is possible in a non-subscriber case.
- Punitive damages. These damages are typically only allowed in fatal workers’ compensation cases, but they may be provided in non-subscriber injury cases if you can prove gross negligence.
It is important to note that your employer does not have certain defenses that a defendant ordinarily would have in a personal injury case. For example, your employer cannot argue that you were partially at fault for the incident which causes your injury. Instead, you just need to prove that your employer was at least one percent responsible for the incident that led to your injury in order to recover damages.
What Workers’ Compensation and Non-Subscriber Cases Have in Common
If you have been hurt in a work-related incident then you can be sure that your employer (in a non-subscriber case) or your employer’s insurer (in a workers’ compensation case) will seek to minimize your recovery. They want to pay you as little as possible so that they can maximize their own profits.
Accordingly, you need to be prepared to stand up for your rights and to pursue a fair and just recovery. Our experienced Texas job injury lawyers will fight hard to get you the compensation that you deserve in a workers’ comp or a non-subscriber case. Please contact us today via this website or by phone to schedule your free and confidential consultation.