In Texas, your rights as an injured worker greatly depend on whether your employer bought official workers’ compensation insurance. It might come as a surprise to learn that many times, you actually have stronger rights to fair compensation if your employer does not have workers’ comp. Under Texas law, employers are encouraged (but not forced) to buy “official” workers’ comp from an approved insurance company. If the company buys workers’ comp from an approved provider, then it almost always enjoys absolute immunity from lawsuits from injured employees. Thus, in a true workers’ comp situation, injured workers are stuck with the workers’ comp system, which only provides partial compensation and is slanted in favor of the company.
“Non-Subscriber” Employers Are Liable for Your On-the-Job Injuries
However, if the employer does not buy official workers’ comp, then the tables are turned, and the worker can seek compensation directly from the employer. This is called a “non-subscriber case.” In a non-subscriber case, the injured worker’s own fault in causing the accident cannot be used to reduce the money paid to the worker – even when the injured worker was 99% responsible for his own accident. To win, the injured worker does have to prove that the company did something negligent, but as long as either the employer or a co-worker was at least 1% at fault, then the company has to pay 100% of the fair compensation owed the injured worker, including all of the financial, physical and emotional losses such as past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages, past and future impairment, pain and suffering, and mental anguish. The thinking of the Texas legislature is, “If you didn’t want to pay for the injury, you should have bought workers’ comp.”
Thousands of Texas Businesses Are Non-Subscribers and Don’t Carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Considering that companies have the upper hand in the workers’ compensation system, one might think that every sensible employer would make sure that they have official workers’ comp. But official workers’ comp is more expensive than cut-rate plans, and remarkably, 1/3 of all Texas employers have decided to either go without any insurance or buy a cheaper, “unofficial” benefits plan. It is a classic “profits over people” business decision because these unofficial plans provide fewer benefits and give less protection to the injured workers. Fortunately, a cut-rate plan does not give the company any immunity, and injured workers can seek full compensation in court even if they have already received some benefits from the employee benefits plan.
Unfortunately, many injured workers don’t know their rights, and they think 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. It is a deceptive trick and unfair to the workers.
Fortunately, if the injured workers are informed about the non-subscriber law, they can protect themselves as long as they can show that their employer (including a co-worker) was at least 1% responsible for their injuries. Many times, we can show this 1% responsibility by demonstrating that the employer had inadequate safety training and/or insufficient staff to do the work safely. Sometimes, we can show that the company provided inadequate warnings, failed to provide proper equipment or failed to keep the premises safe. Frequently, we use a safety expert to show what the company should have done to help prevent the accident. This allows us to seek full compensation for workers who are hurt while working for a non-subscriber.
Contact Our Attorneys Today to Discuss Your Non-Subscriber Claim
If you were injured in an on-the-job accident and your company doesn’t have workers’s comp, you do have rights. Contact the Packard Law Firm to discuss your potential claim with an experienced attorney in a free, confidential, and no-obligation consultation. We’re located in San Antonio and are dedicated to protecting the rights of injured workers. Call 210-340-8877 today to learn more.