While Texas employers are not required to provide workers’ compensation benefits to employees, there are still ways to get compensation when an employee is injured on the job. Companies that do not carry workers’ compensation insurance are called "non-subscribers," and in a non-subscriber work injury claim, an employee has the right to sue his or her employer. In some cases, non-subscriber claims can be even more valuable than standard workers’ compensation claims, since employees covered by workers’ comp are barred from suing their employers for additional damages.
Factors to Consider Before Filing a Non-Subscriber Lawsuit Against an Employer
If your non-subscriber case is valid, you may be able to recover a significant amount for past medical bills, lost wages, future disability, and pain and suffering. However, you should ask an attorney to look over the details of your case to see if there are any potential weaknesses that could affect the outcome of your claim. Generally speaking, whether or not you should file a non-subscriber case will depend on your employer’s:
- Insurance benefits. Some employers who do not offer workers’ compensation will carry an alternate benefit plan to pay for employee injuries. If the benefits you receive through your employer’s insurance are adequate to cover your injury costs, you may not need to pursue a further non-subscriber claim. It is worth noting that these plans can differ greatly from the state mandated workers’ compensation, offering only the benefits that the employer has chosen. As these plans are also under the total control of the employer, they may offer limited payments and fail to provide employee protections (such as protection from retaliation or demotion) that are standard under workers’ compensation.
- Evidence of your injuries. Your employer will likely attempt to defend against any claim you make using your own medical records. You should always tell the truth about the injuries you have suffered, the treatment you have undergone, and the medical bills you have paid. If your injury has caused permanent disabilities that can prevent you from earning as much as you have previously, or stop you from participating fully in the things you enjoy, a non-subscriber case may be your only chance at fair compensation for your losses.
- Case against you. One of the benefits in non-subscriber cases is that the employer loses the right to certain defenses, such as blaming the worker for causing the accident. The employee only has to prove that the company was one percent at fault for the accident in order to be liable for damages. However, your actions during and after the accident can affect the amount of compensation you receive. If you were not taking recommended safety precautions prior to the accident or failed to go to the emergency room to treat your injury, a judge might assume that you were not doing everything possible to protect your own health.
- Illegal practices. A judge is likely to look unfavorably on an employer who put his employees at risk or willfully broke the law. Proof of inadequate safety measures, illegal company policies, failure to post a notice about the employer’s workers’ comp status, and other negligent activities can strengthen an employee’s case.
- Contractors. Sometimes, an injured worker’s claim can be paid through someone other than the employer. Such "third-party" claims are typically filed against a person or company that worked on the same site as the employer or provided equipment used in the workplace. Builders, supervisors, painters, training providers, security firms, or even makers of uniforms and safety equipment can all be named in a third-party work injury claim.
The easiest way to tell how much you could be owed in your non-subscriber claim is to speak with a work injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact the Packard Law Firm today to discuss your case in your free, confidential, and no-obligation consultation.