Injured at Work
If you are injured in the workplace, it is important to understand what type of injury coverage your employer provides before you can make any decisions about how to proceed after your injury.
This is because The State of Texas does not require that all private employers provide Worker’s Compensation Insurance. Of course, There are some employees who are guaranteed Worker’s Comp such as public employees, including contractors, and some others.
It is also important to understand that in 2005 there was a major overhaul of the way Worker’s Comp is overseen with House Bill #7, which greatly changed how benefits are provided to injured workers, and added funding for new departments and committees including the Office of the Injured Employee Counsel which assists injured workers with disputes.
Because not all Employers in Texas are required to provide Worker’s Compensation coverage they will have 1 of 3 types of coverage: Worker’s Compensation Insurance, Coverage other than Worker’s Compensation Insurance, or provide no coverage at all.
Even though it is not required by law to provide coverage, the majority of employers do provide Worker’s Comp coverage for their employees. In fact, nearly 81 percent of workers in Texas are covered by this system. Workers benefit from this system because Worker’s Compensation will generally cover all medical costs and a portion of wages lost due to the injury. Employers also benefit from having Workers Comp Insurance because, by law, the insurance held by the employer is the single avenue an injured worker can take for compensation. This means an employer with Workers Compensation Insurance cannot be sued for compensation in court and must utilize the Worker’s Compensation system.
There are exceptions in some circumstances that involve injuries that are the result of a subcontractor on a job site, or by faulty equipment that was not manufactured by the employer. Also, if the injury resulted in death, the employer can still be sued for punitive damages in court if gross negligence can be proven.
Some employers do not use worker’s compensation coverage, but elect to buy private insurance to cover injured workers. This type of coverage is typically part of an Employee Injury Benefit Plan. Injured employees that fall under this type of coverage should take care to review all of their employer’s plan’s guidelines for injury reporting, and requesting/receiving benefits. This information should be provided by your employer and can be requested. Following these guidelines is crucial to receiving your benefits.
In some situations, smaller employers may not provide any kind if injury compensation. This is usually because they don’t have the funding to provide that type of coverage. If an employer elects not to offer Worker’s Comp Insurance, an employee who is injured on the job may be able may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit. An employer without worker’s Compensation Insurance must comply with the following:
- Employer must display notices of non-coverage in common areas of the workplace.
- Each new employee must be provided with a written statement of non-coverage.
- Employer must file a yearly notice with the Texas Dept. of Insurance.
Also, Texas Labor Code restricts employers without Worker’s Comp Insurance from use of some common legal defenses such as claiming the employee was aware of the danger and knowingly accepted the risk, or claiming negligence of the employee, or fellow employees caused the injury.
If you have been injured at work and need legal advice, or are unclear about what type of coverage your employer has, contact Carabin Shaw at 800-862-1260