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I fell off a roof at work. What are my rights?

roofer work

Question:

I work for a roofing company in Dallas, Texas. I fell off the roof and suffered injuries to my neck and back. My employer did not carry workers compensation insurance. Two days after the accident, I signed a release when my employer paid me $500. When I signed the release, I had not even had a chance to see a doctor. My back now hurts and I want to go see a doctor but my employer refuses to pay for the medical bills. I live in Fort Worth Texas. What are my rights?

Answer:

In this situation there’s a good chance that I can get the release set aside and we can renegotiate your case.

With a few exceptions, Texas law does not require Texas employers to provide workers compensation insurance for their employees. An employer that does not have Texas workers compensation insurance is called a “nonsubscriber”. This employer may have insurance that is similar to workers compensation insurance but is much more limited. This type of insurance is called an accident policy.  The employer maintains much greater control with accident policies regarding the medical care that the employee receives and when the employer can stop paying lost wages that occur as result of the injury. These accident policies do not pay for mental anguish, pain and suffering, physical impairment, in the past or in the future.

Moreover some unscrupulous employers are very aggressive in trying to get there injured employees to sign a post injury liability waiver. In Texas, a post injury liability waiver is effective with some changes that occurred in 2005. A post injury liability waiver releases the employer of all liability regarding an accident. In order to be effective,  a post injury waiver must meet certain requirements: an injured employee must voluntarily enter an agreement regarding the waiver and have knowledge regarding the effect of the waiver ; the employee may not waive their right to pursue a lawsuit earlier than 10 days after the date of the accident; the employee must receive medical care by non emergency doctor before signing the release ; the waiver must be in writing and clearly state the intent of the parties and ; the waiver provisions must be conspicuous and appear on the face of the release.

Although you live in Fort Worth, if a lawsuit is filed,  it must be filed in the county where the accident occurred or where the responsible party lives or is incorporated.

Many people believe that if they do not understand the release or they are unable to read English, that the release cannot be enforced in court. Unfortunately, in most cases this is not true. Also, Texas courts state that there is a presumption that a person has understood and read a contract when they sign the contract. This also includes when a person signs post injury release.

If you have any questions please call my office. We provide free consultations regarding your injury claim. I am Board Certified by the Texas Board of  Legal Specialization and the National Board of Trial Advocacy.