The workers’ compensation insurance program was created as a faster and cheaper alternative to filing a lawsuit against an employer. Workers who are hurt on the job would agree not to sue an employer in return for medical care and a portion of their wages while they recover from an injury. However, Texas is the only state in the nation that does not require employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance, making recovery for medical bills and other out-of-pocket expenses much more complicated.
Types of Compensation After a Work Injury in Texas
In most cases, Texas workers have two options for filing work injury claims, and the method will depend on whether or not the employer carries workers’ compensation insurance. While it is not mandatory, many Texas companies choose to carry workers’ compensation insurance because it is less costly than defending work injury lawsuits.
Injured workers in Texas may collect payment for accidents at work through:
- Workers’ compensation. If the employer has subscribed to a workers’ compensation plan that has been approved by the State Department of Insurance, injured employees are required to file for injury payment through workers’ compensation. In most cases, these employees will not be able to sue the employer directly, but they will also receive automatic benefits up to the limits of coverage.
- Non-subscriber claims. If your employer does not carry an approved workers’ compensation policy, the company is considered a “non-subscriber” and the employee is eligible to file a lawsuit. Non-subscribers are under no obligation to provide specific payments for injury costs or lost wages, but they are also at a disadvantage if the employee decides to sue. If an employer chooses not to have insurance, the employer loses the right to claim employee negligence as a defense in court. In short, this means that the company can try to blame the worker for causing the accident, but the worker only has to prove that the employer was one percent responsible for the injury. If the employer is found to be one percent liable, the company will be responsible for paying all of the damages related to the injury.
- Third-party claims. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, an injured worker may be able to file a claim against someone other than the employer. An accident may have happened at work, but it could be the fault of a third-party (such as a coworker, a loading company, a cleaning or maintenance company, or the manufacturer of a defective piece of equipment).
How Can I Tell If My Employer Has Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Many employees are unaware that their employers do not carry workers’ compensation insurance. Under Texas law, employers are required to post information regarding their workers’ compensation policies in an open and often-visited location in the workplace that is accessible to all employees. If the employer has workers’ compensation insurance, the notice should include the name, address, and phone number of their insurance carrier. If the employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance, there should be a clear and easily-accessible notice posted so that all employees can see it.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to get compensation for a Texas work injury whether your employer has workers’ compensation or not. Although the workers’ compensation system is supposed to provide fair and fast payment to workers, it is run by insurance companies who have a vested interest in denying claims. Workers often have to fight with insurance companies to get the basic workers’ compensation coverage that the policy allows, and trying to get full coverage for medical costs can be all but impossible. Insurers may also attempt to delay payments in the hopes that an injured worker will abandon the claim, or even return to work in order to pay the bills.
If your employer is not providing the benefits you deserve after a work injury, we can help. The attorneys at the Packard Law Firm can investigate any misconduct or potential illegal activities on the part of your employer, and we can deal with an insurance company on your behalf to get you the payments you need. Contact us today to discuss your potential claim with an experienced attorney in your free, confidential, and no-obligation consultation.