Texas’ law doesn’t serve injured workers well. But, you can protect yourself. Here’s what you should do if you find yourself in a battle with your employer.
What should you do if you unfortunately suffer an injury at work?
1. Report Your Injury Immediately
Don’t delay one second, unless circumstances prevent you from doing so. You should even call your workplace from the emergency room, if you’re able (no joke).
If your employer does not carry workers’ comp (and Texas doesn’t require them to), they may have a plan that requires you to notify your workplace of your injury within 24 hours.
That is 100% serious. Such plans do exist. And obviously, they’re designed to not pay you for your injuries.
If your employer has workers’ comp, you have 30 days to report your injury. But still, you should report as fast as you can because that gives you the most credibility.
2. Get Witness Contact Info
Look, companies in general, and workers’ comp insurers, don’t like to pay for your injuries.
So, you want as much evidence as you can get.
Get witnesses’ names, addresses, and phone numbers.
What if you didn’t have any witnesses?
Get the contact info of anyone who responded to your situation. You may need all the help you can get later on.
3. Does Your Employer Carry Workers’ Comp?
About ⅔ of Texas employers do have workers’ comp insurance. But that also means ⅓ don’t. And you can include major corporations and small businesses alike in that ⅓.
Law requires your employer to post a sign in either your break room or a common area that notifies you whether they have workers’ comp or not. However, many employers don’t do this.
You can call the Texas Department of Workers’ Compensation at 800-252-7031 to check.
4. Pick Your Own Doctor If Your Employer Has Workers’ Comp
If your employer does subscribe to Workers’ Comp, you do have the right to choose your own doctor.
However, many doctors don’t take workers’ comp because insurance companies make it difficult to get paid, so call the doctor in advance to confirm they’ll see you if you have workers’ comp.
When you talk to the doctor, describe your injuries to the finest detail. Err on the side of too much rather than too little. Do so for both your past and present injuries.
Once the doctor completes taking notes, ask to look at them.
Because doctors make mistakes and errors of omission sometimes. And that could lead to you losing your claim in the future (it happens).
If the doctor won’t let you look, ask them to read their notes to you and make sure you make clarifications if needed.
5. Work, If You Can
This really stinks, but honestly, the system is set up to keep you at work. If you just sit back, this can lead to severe financial difficulty ahead (bankruptcy, foreclosure, car repossession).
Your employer may also find a way to fire you if they can prove you took time off unnecessarily.
Go back to work, even at light duty, if possible.
If your employer tries to make you work on duties which push you beyond set restrictions, tell your doctor.
Your doctor can then increase your restrictions or request your employer keep you within your restrictions again (which increases the credibility of your case).
Anyway, it’s no fun when you get injured at work. The system is designed to help employers (not employees).
And if you run into difficulty, you can always run your claim by a personal injury lawyer because they offer free consultations and can help you understand how to protect yourself and recover fair compensation for your injuries.