What You Need to Know When You’re Hurt on the Job
A work-related injury can change your entire life overnight. You may be unable to work, with concerns about how you’ll meet your financial obligations. You may need extensive medical treatment, including physical therapy or rehab, before you can return to work. If you’ve never experienced an injury on the job, you may be uncertain of your rights. Here are some answers to questions commonly asked by people in Texas who are hurt in a workplace accident.
Q: Will I be able to collect workers’ compensation?
A: That depends. Unfortunately, Texas is the only state in the country that does not require employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. For most employers, though, it’s a smart economic decision, as the potential costs of a lawsuit can be significant. Accordingly, more than four of every five employees in Texas is covered under a workers’ compensation insurance policy. To qualify for workers’ comp benefits, you must determine if your employer is a subscriber.
Q: What else must I show to recover workers’ compensation benefits (if my employer has a valid policy of workers’ compensation insurance)?
A: There are only two requirements to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. You must show (1) that you suffered an injury, and (2) that the injury was work-related. As a general rule, you’ll be covered as long as you were in the course of your employment at the time you were injured, unless your employer can show a clear violation of company policy or that the injury was intentionally self-inflicted.
Q: What benefits can I expect from a Texas workers’ compensation claim?
A: The Texas workers’ compensation laws provide for four types of benefits:
• Income to cover some of your lost wages,
• Coverage of all “reasonable and necessary” medical treatment required because of your injury,
• Death benefits (similar to a life insurance policy) to surviving family members, should you die in a workplace accident, and
• Compensation to cover the costs of burial.
Q: What types of income benefits are available in a Texas workers’ comp claim?
A: There are four income benefits available to Texas workers injured on the job:
• Temporary income benefits provide you with 70% of the difference between your average weekly wage before the injury and your weekly wage after the injury.
• Impairment income benefits provide additional benefits for an injury or illness that affects your body as a whole.
• Supplemental income benefits kick in if you have an impairment rating of at least 15%, do not return to work (or return to work but earn less than 80% of your prior average weekly wage because of your injury), and can show that you are actively seeking other work.
• Lifetime income benefits are available if you suffer one of a number of serious and catastrophic losses, including loss of sight, loss of limb, paralysis, or serious burns.
Q: What are my options if my employer is not a subscriber?
A: If your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, you can file a personal injury lawsuit.
Q: Can I choose between a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit?
• A: As a general rule, no. If your employer is a subscriber, you must seek benefits through a workers’ compensation claim and cannot file a personal injury lawsuit. If your employer is not covered, your only course of action is a personal injury claim.
There is an exception, though, where you can file both a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit. The workers’ comp laws are intended to provide benefits for injuries caused by the carelessness or negligence of an employer or a co-worker. If any of your injuries are caused by an unrelated third party—a vendor, the manufacturer of a defective product, the driver of another car—you may still file what is referred to as a “third party claim” in civil court, seeking damages for personal injury.
Contact the Proven Workplace Injury Lawyers at Bailey & Galyen
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we have a comprehensive understanding of the ways you can recover compensation for a job-related injury. We offer a free initial consultation to all prospective clients. To set up an appointment with an experienced personal injury attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at 844-402-2992. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.