Texas is a unique state in many ways, including that we don’t require workers compensation for all employers. Here’s what to do if you’re hurt at work.
Hurt on The Job in Texas?
We’re “The Lone Star State” for many reasons. For a brief time, we were even our own nation.
And today, we’re alone in maybe not as good of a respect as others: our state is the only one that doesn’t require employers to carry workers’ compensation.
In many other states, if workers get hurt at work, for any reason (their own negligence or their employer’s), they can recover compensation for their work injuries.
Worker’s Compensation Rarely Provides the Coverage You Need
Well, the system we have here in Texas is kind of a mess. So bear with me as I explain this.
First of all, certain employers do have to carry Worker’s Compensation:
- Public employers (but not federal employers)
- Construction contractors
- Motorbus companies
- Companies that operate vehicles over public highways to provide transportation services
- Liquid propane gas dealers
- Natural gas dealers
- Employers whose workers are on furlough programs
80% of all Texas workers have some workers’ compensation coverage. For the 20% that don’t, most work for very small businesses.
But notice what I didn’t say there – that workers have adequate coverage they need when injured at work. In Texas, and even in all other states that mandate worker’s compensation coverage, workers often get just part of their wages and medical bills covered.
What Should You Do if You’re Hurt at Work in Texas?
First, you should report the injury immediately. If you wait, your hesitation can be seen as a sign that you’re lying about or exaggerating your injuries.
Next, consider running the facts of your situation by a Dallas personal injury law firm. You want to make sure you’re getting a fair deal. And these situations can be confusing and overwhelming because of the practically “foreign language” used.
It especially makes sense to talk to a personal injury attorney if:
- Your loved one was killed because of the gross negligence of your employer
- Your injuries were a direct result of someone else’s negligence (other than your employer) during your employment
- Your injuries happened at work and your employer was negligent and not a subscriber to Texas Workers’ Compensation
Like we said, Worker’s Comp is a mess. So best to talk to a work injury attorney, just to make sure everything’s going as it should.
With workers’ comp, you have to understand why it was created in the first place. And that reason was to protect both employers and employees by eliminating the need for litigation. Workers’ comp is intended to be insurance, a “safety net” for employees that get injured at work.
The basic idea of personal injury law, on the other hand, is to provide financial relief to the affected parties and deter others from engaging in the same kind of actions.
With basic definitions in your hand, take a look at some of the differences between personal injury claims and worker’s compensation:
Personal Injury Law Requires You to Prove Fault
You, the plaintiff, must show the defending party was negligent, and at least partially responsible for your injuries. Just because you’re harmed in an accident, that doesn’t mean you can recover compensation from the other party. They must have been careless in their actions in some way.
In workers’ comp, you don’t need to show fault. As long as you are injured on the job, you’re usually entitled to workers’ comp benefits (with a few exceptions).
You Get Compensation to Cover Different Damages
With personal injury law, you are entitled to recover compensation for all damages related to your injury – present and future. You can also get financial compensation for your pain and suffering. As you hear on the news, you can recover amounts running into the millions of dollars.
With workers’ comp, though, you’re not entitled to benefits for your pain and suffering. You can recover compensation to replace 2/3 of your lost wages, permanent impairment benefits, medical bills, and vocational rehabilitation.
You Don’t File a Lawsuit with Worker’s Comp
To show you how dated workers’ compensation law is, workers gave up the right to sue employers and co-workers for negligence around the turn of the century. They lost the ability to recover damages for pain and suffering. In return, they got some weekly benefits and payment of their medical bills.
Now, this seems a little ridiculous, when compared to personal injury law. But at the time, it was a better deal than what workers had. In many cases, they got nothing after permanent disability, or even dying on the job!
Personal Injury Law Doesn’t Guarantee Payment
You have to prove your personal injury claim. It’s an all-or-nothing issue. And during the time you argue your case, you have no means of receiving payment for your medical bills or to replace your lost wages.
Workers’ compensation guarantees payment if the workers’ comp insurance company accepts your claim. Employers, however, often do what they can to absolve themselves of responsibility. States have also done a lot to reduce benefits workers can receive. And, you can only recover 2/3 of your normal wage.
When Can You File a Personal Injury Claim If You Were Injured at Work in Texas?
In Texas, there are a few conditions that allow you to file a personal injury suit if you are injured at work:
- If your employer was grossly negligent or took intentional actions that killed your loved one
- If your injuries happened at work as a result of someone’s negligent actions other than your employer
- If your employer or co-worker was negligent and your employer does not offer worker’s compensation (“non-subscriber”)
Talking with an injury lawyer is free, so there’s no risk double-checking the facts of your case to make sure you’re getting fair compensation for your injuries.