I was injured on the job. What are my rights and responsibilities?
In the Dallas-Fort Worth area approximately 33% of the employers do not carry workers compensation insurance for their employees. My office specializes in representing injured workers who have suffered serious injuries as a result of their employer’s negligence and the employer does not carry Texas workers compensation insurance.
Does my employer carry workers compensation insurance? This is a common question I receive on the phone from an injured worker. What are my benefits and rights after I have suffered an on the job injury.. Many injured employees experience confusion and dismay about what their rights and benefits are after they have suffered an injury on the job. Even though your employer may tell you that they have workers compensation insurance, this does not mean that your employer’s insurance plan is part of the Texas workers compensation system. This is vital to know.
There are three possible options a Texas employer has regarding how to help their employees regarding an on-the-job injury. First, they may subscribe to a workers compensation insurance company recognized by the Texas Worker’s Compensation Commission. This is a most expensive route for a Texas employer. However, Texas Worker’s Compensation insurance provides the best benefits for an injured worker in most cases. Secondly, a Texas employer may opt out of a Texas Worker’s Compensation insurance plan and instead purchase a private plan offered by a company that pays benefits similar to a Texas Worker’s Compensation plan. This is much cheaper for the employer because the employer has direct control over the costs of the plan. The benefits for the employee are dramatically less than a Texas Worker’s Compensation plan. Finally, a Texas employer may decide not to carry any insurance for their employees regarding an on-the-job injury and instead pay for the employees medical bills and wage replacement at their sole discretion. In the short run, this is the worse situation a seriously injured employee can face. The roofing industry is a prime example. A common joke in the roofing industry is the warning to any employee that if they fall from a roof that they’re fired before they hit the ground.
Since 1913, Texas has allowed companies the option to reject workers compensation insurance for their employees with very limited exceptions. Companies that do not carry workers compensation insurance are normally called nonsubscribers. In other words, they do not subscribe to the insurance companies recognized by the Texas Workers Compensation Commission as bona fide workers compensation carriers. These employers may purchase insurance plans that pay benefits similar to workers compensation benefits but offer very limited benefits and ability to dispute the company’s decisions regarding what benefits are being paid.
An employee that is injured on the job working for an employer that carries workers compensation insurance enjoys a great deal more benefits and rights than an employer who is a nonsubscriber. First, according to the Texas Labor Code which regulates these insurance policies, a employee has lifetime medical benefits for their injuries and indemnity benefits (weekly or monthly income checks) for up to seven years. Moreover, an employee has a right to present their dispute to the Texas Workers Compensation Commission and attend hearings in order to collect all the benefits that they are allowed to according to the law. However, the injured worker gives up his right to file a lawsuit against his employer even if his employer caused his accident. The only exception is that an injured worker’s next of kin may file a wrongful death lawsuit against the employer only if the family can prove that the employer’s gross negligence caused the employee’s death.
In comparison, a nonsubscriber company has a right to purchase an injury plan that pays some medical benefits and income replacement checks but are very limited compared to workers compensation insurance policies. For example, most injury plans allow the employer to maintain control over what medical provider the employee is treated by and what medical benefits are paid by the plan. Moreover, if an employer discharges the employee while they are receiving medical care, the injured worker is disqualified from receiving any additional benefits.
The only advantage an injured employee has while working for an employer that carries a private insurance plan or no insurance whatsoever for a work related injury is the injured worker’s right to file a lawsuit against their employer if the accident occurred as the result of the company’s negligence. This also includes injuries that occur as a result of a co-employees negligent act.
My office specializes in representing injured workers who are seriously injured as the result of their employer’s negligence and the injured workers employer does not carry workers compensation insurance.
Please call my Fort Worth or Dallas/Oak Cliff office for a free consultation if you have been injured on the job. My office can investigate whether or not your employer carries workers compensation insurance or a private insurance plan dramatically affecting your rights according to Texas law.