The Different Approach to Workplace Injuries in the Lone Star State
In most states, certain employers are required to either have a valid policy of workers’ compensation insurance or be approved by the state as self-insured. Texas, though, does not follow that practice. In the Lone Star State, while there are mechanisms in place for workers to pursue a work comp claim, there’s no requirement that employers “subscribe” to the workers’ compensation system. According to statistics compiled by the state of Texas, approximately one of every five employers in Texas has opted out of the workers’ compensation program.
There are benefits to both employers and employees from subscribing to workers’ compensation. For workers, the process allows for quicker payment of claims, and typically requires proof of only two things—that you were hurt and the injury happened during the course of your employment. For employers, workers’ compensation includes limits on liability, based on a worker’s average weekly wage. That protects companies from exorbitant jury awards.
When Can You File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Texas?
In Texas, you can only file a work comp claim if your employer has subscribed and obtained a policy of workers’ compensation insurance. If they have not, you must file a personal injury lawsuit in court to recover damages for any injury or loss.
What Can You Expect a Workers’ Compensation Claim to Cover in Texas?
Workers’ compensation benefits generally include payments for lost wages or income, as well as payment of all “reasonable and necessary” medical expenses related to the injury. The amount of compensation for lost income is based on your average weekly wage over a specific period of time. Payments can start within a few weeks, provided your claim is initially approved. Payments are generally made periodically, but lump sum settlements can be negotiated in some situations, particularly where the injuries are permanent in nature.
In the immediate aftermath of a workplace injury, you can expect that your employer will require that you be examined by a company-selected doctor. That does not mean, however, that you cannot seek treatment from your own chosen medical professional.
What Types of Injuries Are Covered by Workers’ Compensation in Texas?
Workers’ compensation generally covers any type of injury, including occupational illness, provided you can establish that you suffered the injury (or it was caused) while you were working. That includes cuts and bruises, broken bones, amputation or loss of limb, traumatic brain injury or spinal cord trauma, permanent scarring for disfigurement, burn injuries and other serious or catastrophic losses. Workers’ compensation also provides death benefits to survivors in fatal workplace accidents.
Does Filing a Work Comp Claim Prevent You from Filing a Lawsuit for Damages?
That depends…if all of your losses were caused by your employer or a co-worker, workers’ compensation will be your exclusive remedy for any injury or loss. If, however, your injuries were caused, in whole or in part, by an unrelated third party, you may bring a civil lawsuit to recover damages from that third party.
Contact the Proven Personal Injury Lawyers at Bailey & Galyen
At the law offices of Bailey & Galyen, we understand the devastating impact any type of personal injury can have on every part of your life. We’ll aggressively protect your rights throughout the legal process, acting as your intermediary with insurance companies and as your voice in all meetings, hearings and legal proceedings. Contact us by email or call our offices at 844-402-2992. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.