Most people who are injured on the job can get wage replacement and medical treatment almost immediately through the workers’ compensation system. However, employees in Texas may discover that they will not be paid a penny unless they fight their employers in court. Unlike most states, employers in Texas are not required to carry workers' compensation insurance. So what rights do you have if you are injured while working for one of these "non-subscriber" employers?
Injured Workers Retain One Important Right in a Non-Subscriber Injury Case
Employees who have workers’ compensation coverage enjoy many protections under the law. In contrast, employees who work for non-subscribers do not have a right to receive lost wages and payment for medical costs after a work injury. However, these employees do have one right that subscribing employees do not: the right to sue the employer for damages.
Workers often feel powerless when they are not protected under the workers’ compensation system, but the truth is that they have a great deal of power available to them. The choice of whether or not to sue the non-subscribing employer will ultimately rest on whether or not the employer has provided for your injuries and losses. Although these employers are under no obligation to do so, they may wish to avoid a lawsuit, offering remuneration to the injured worker for:
- Medical costs and rehabilitation pertaining to the injury
- Lost wages
- Future medical costs (such as surgery or doctors’ visits)
- Lost earning capacity
- Permanent or partial disability
If the employer does not offer any such compensation, or offers much lower compensation than your injury or situation deserves, then you are within your rights to sue them.
What Injured Workers Must Prove to Win Compensation
There are a limited number of defenses available to non-subscriber employers, some of which pertain to an employee’s proof and some of which question a worker’s eligibility to bring a lawsuit at all. The burden of proof is on the employee to show that the employer was directly responsible for the injury—in other words, the employer was negligent and that negligence led to the injury.
In order to prove negligence, an employee must provide evidence that:
- The employer owed a duty of care. Since workers’ compensation is not available to injured workers, non-subscriber employers owe their employees a considerable degree of workplace safety.
- The employer breached that duty of care. Employees must show that an employer was either aware or should have been aware of the negligence that caused injury. Even if the employee was somewhat negligent in causing the accident, non-subscriber employers can be held liable for all damages if they are responsible for even 1% of the blame for the injury.
- Breached duty of care caused the injury. The specific negligence that the employer is guilty of must be the proximate cause of the worker’s injury, and that negligence resulted in damages, costs, and losses suffered by the worker.
Unfortunately, many employers who save money on workers’ compensation insurance invest that savings into a team of highly-paid corporate lawyers who will work hard to discredit your case. These lawyers are called in immediately after an accident occurs, allowing the employer a distinct advantage over an employee who must attend to a life-threatening injury rather than protecting his own legal rights. Without someone working on their behalf, injured employees may begin their cases several important steps behind the employers, reducing their chances of receiving a fair settlement.
Non-subscriber work injury cases are some of the most complicated lawsuits an employee can file. Although these employers are somewhat limited in the defenses they can use against you, they still find ways to avoid liability, forcing the worker to pay for the costs of his injuries by himself. Our work injury attorneys fight aggressively on your behalf, building your case while you take the time you need to heal. Contact the Packard Law Firm today to set up your free, confidential consultation and find out how much your non-subscriber claim could be worth.