What are my rights when my employer did not carry ‘official’ workers’ comp insurance?

Normally, employers can effectively immunize themselves when they injure their own workers simply by carrying “official” workers’ comp. Thus, one might think that every sensible employer would make sure they have this coverage. But many Texas employers do not do the sensible thing.  Remarkably, 1/3 of all Texas employers do not carry official workers’ comp.  These employers are called “non-subscribers.” Why do so many employers non-subscribe?  Because official workers’ comp is more expensive than cut-rate plans, and 1/3 of the Texas employers have decided to take the gamble and either go without any insurance or buy a cheaper plan.  These plans provide fewer benefits and give less protection to the injured workers.  It is a classic “profits over people” business decision.  These employers provide a cut-rate “benefit” plan that has even fewer benefits than the official workers’ comp plans with no administrative protections.  The employers then try to persuade the injured workers to take what little benefits the plan offers without asking questions or causing “problems” for the employer.  Unfortunately, many injured workers think that they are getting workers’ comp when, in fact, they are getting a watered-down version that is administered by the company – not by the Texas workers’ comp system.  This is deceptive and unfair. 

Fortunately, if the injured workers are informed about the non-subscriber law, they can do something to protect themselves.  They can file a lawsuit in state court and obtain full and complete compensation as long as they can prove that their employer (including a co-worker) was at least 1% responsible for their injuries.  Many times, this 1% responsibility can be proven by showing that the employer had inadequate safety training and/or insufficient staff to do the work safely.  You may also be able to show that your employer provided inadequate warnings and/or failed to provide proper equipment.  All these things relate to the employer’s general duty to provide a safe working environment.