Texas is the only state in the nation that does not require employers to offer workers’ compensation insurance to employees. If an employee is injured on the job while working for a “non-subscriber,” the employee generally has two options for compensation: payment through an alternate benefit plan, or filing a non-subscriber work injury claim. Injured workers should consider these options carefully, since the amount they can get for an injury can vary widely depending on the method they choose.
Options for Compensation After a Texas Work Accident
Some employers choose to carry other forms of insurance that cover employee injuries, but these plans are very different from state-sanctioned workers’ compensation. They typically offer limited payments and do not provide the same guaranteed employee protections as workers’ compensation. Many such programs are also under the total control of the employer, meaning that the employer can require an injured worker to give a recorded statement, see the company’s own doctors, and relinquish the right to seek additional benefits once payment is made.
Non-subscribing employers are also under no obligation to pay for a worker’s lost wages. While the company may choose to pay injured employees a portion of his or her regular income, they are also allowed to choose the amount and the duration of these payments. If the payments are not enough to cover an employee’s costs, the employee may be unable to pay his or her bills, forcing workers to return to work before they are healed. As the compensation available through non-subscribing employers is often inadequate, Texas employees should always discuss non-subscriber claims with an attorney before accepting an employer’s benefits.
What it Takes to Win a Non-Subscriber Work Injury Lawsuit
While there is no guarantee of winning compensation in a non-subscriber case, there are many benefits to pursuing this kind of action. You can be awarded a sum for your lost wages, coverage for your medical costs, and any permanent losses due to a disability caused by the accident. In addition, employees can be granted additional sums for pain and suffering, which are not available to employees covered under workers’ compensation.
In order to get payment from a non-subscriber, your case will depend on:
- Employer negligence. The issue of fault in a non-subscriber claim is greatly in the employee’s favor. If an employee can prove that an employer was one percent to blame for the accident, the employer is responsible for all of the damages. This one percent could take the form of unsafe working conditions, failure to train employees, lack of safety equipment, failing to fix known issues, failing to inform employees of known risks, and other negligent practices.
- Your negligence. In these lawsuits, workers cannot be assigned negligence based on the assumption of some portion of natural risk, nor because the actions of a coworker contributed to the injury. The only way an employee can share legal responsibility for an accident is if he or she was intoxicated, or the employee intended to bring about the injury.
- Posting requirements. Employers who do not have insurance are required to post a notice about their workers’ comp status in a conspicuous location. Employers are prohibited from falsely representing an unapproved work injury insurance program as compliant with workers’ compensation laws. If the employer does not adhere to these laws, they could be subject to additional legal actions.
- Third-parties. An employee can file a third-party claim for compensation if someone other than the employer played a role in the injury. For example, an employee who was injured by a falling paint can could have a suit against a contracted painting company. If the employer knew that the painting company would be working during regular hours and failed to notify employees or provide additional safety, the employer could also be held liable for the accident.
- Fatal injury. Families of loved ones who are killed as a result of a work accident are entitled to file claims on the employee’s behalf. If an employer is found guilty of gross negligence leading to fatal injuries, the family of the worker could hold the company liable for their financial and emotional losses.
- Retaliation. Employers are allowed to terminate employees at any time under the “at will” doctrine. However, there is an exception for employees who have filed workers’ compensation claims or who are taking legal action after a work injury. Under Texas law, employer retaliation is illegal for all employers, whether they provide workers’ compensation insurance or not. If your employer attempted to retaliate against you, he could be held liable for additional damages.
The amount an injured worker could receive depends the circumstances of their case, the extent of their injuries, and their ability to earn a living in the future. Contact the Packard Law Firm today to speak to a work injury attorney in your free, confidential, and no-obligation consultation.