Work injuries are always a concern because you will require time to recover and during that time you may be unable to work. Your company may not have workers’ compensation coverage, which can put you at risk of being unable to file a claim through traditional means. Here is what you should know about workers’ compensation coverage in Texas and your ability to file a claim against your employer.
Subscribers and Non-Subscribers
In Texas, private employers can choose to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage, but it is not required in most cases. A workers’ compensation insurance policy provides lost wages and medical benefits to employees injured on the job. Except when gross negligence results in a fatality, coverage limits liability if an employee sues your business for damages. When a company does not carry worker’s compensation insurance coverage and instead, adopts a plan which covers any on-the-job injuries they are a “non-subscriber”. These plans must cover many of the same benefits as a workers’ compensation policy, but they are very different in terms of employer and employee rights and benefits. Many of the largest employers in Texas are non-subscribers, including Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target, Kroger, Home Depot, Lowes, and many others.
Getting Benefits for Injured Workers From Non-Subscribers
When you are injured on the job and your employer has workers’ compensation coverage, the employer can only be sued if the injury results in a death and the employer was grossly negligent in causing the employee’s death. These are limited cases. If your employer, however, has not subscribed to workers’ compensation coverage (“non-subscriber”), you can sue your employer – no matter the extent of your injury (or death) – and seek the compensation you may be entitled to because of your workplace injury. You may be able to get compensation for:
- Lost wages while you are recovering from an injury
- Medical costs associated with your injury
- Pain and suffering
- Physical disfigurement
- Mental anguish
- Physical impairment
- Any costs you incurred as a result of your injury
The other factor one must consider is, even if you were partially at fault for an accident which caused your injury, your employer is prohibited from asserting certain common-law defenses, including:
- The injured employee’s negligence caused the injury;
- the negligence of fellow employees caused the injury; or
- the injured employee knew of the danger and voluntarily accepted it.
Thus, if your employer is found to be in any way responsible for your injury, then they must pay you for the losses you have suffered and other court-ordered or agreed upon benefits.
The best way to determine what your rights are and what benefits you may be able to collect is to work with an attorney who will help explain your legal rights, tell you about your options, and help you take the steps necessary to hold your employer accountable.
Benefit Levels Differ For Subscribers and Non-Subscribers
When your employer subscribes to a workers’ compensation policy, their liability for your injuries is limited by the coverage offered under the policy. As mentioned, only in very limited circumstances could a lawsuit be filed to seek additional benefits. Some limitations, such as the ability of an injured worker to collect damages for pain and suffering, are part of the protection offered to employers who are subscribers to workers’ compensation.
However, as an employee of a non-subscriber, your employer’s coverage pays up to the limit of their policy, and the employer is required to pay any uncovered amounts. In addition, your employer can receive a judgment to compensate you for pain and suffering and punitive damages. The challenge, of course, for the injured party, is getting this compensation.
Hire a Texas Injured Worker Attorney
Your employer may attempt to offer you a settlement which is the limit of the policy they have after a workplace injury. This is an attempt to save money. The reality is your medical bills and time lost from work could easily exceed the amount of their policy. You need to hire a lawyer to protect your interests because your employer is going to be protecting their interests, not doing what is best for you.
If you have suffered an injury in a workplace accident, call Warren Armstrong at Armstrong Law by calling 214-932-1288 or use our online contact form today. After a free evaluation, you will know your legal options and rights. You can then make a decision about filing an injured workers claim against your employer.