Texas is the only state in the United States that does not require private employers to carry workers’ compensation benefits. This often causes confusion; does it means that employees injured on the job have no way of being compensated for their injury?
Thankfully, this is not necessarily the case.
What if your employer participates in Texas’s workers’ compensation system?
In Texas, employers are encouraged, but not required, to participate in the state’s workers’ compensation program. If your employer subscribes to the program, the law puts a limit on the amount and type of compensation that the injured employee may receive.
The Types of Benefits Available to You
Texas law provides for three main types of benefits: medical benefits, income benefits, and death benefits. Each type of benefit is defined by law and is limited.
As to medical benefits, you can collect these benefits if a doctor determines you are unable to do your work.
Unfortunately, collecting your medical benefits through the workers’ compensation system can be difficult. You cannot see just any doctor; you must see a doctor that accepts or is part of the state’s workers’ compensation system.
Critical Deadlines for Reporting Your Injury
Importantly, if you are injured and your employer participates in the workers’ compensation system, you must report your injury to your employer.
The time frame for reporting an injury can depend on whether or not it is an accident or an occupational disease. Generally, you should report the occupational injury or illness as soon as you believe you have been injured.
In most situations, an injured worker must file an injury report with their employer within thirty days of the injury. The injured worker must also file formal paperwork with the state for the workers’ compensation claim within one year of the injury.
If the work-related nature of the injury or illness was not immediately apparent, those deadlines run from the date on which the employee should have known the problem was work-related.
What if your employer has a “non-subscriber’s policy”?
Alternatively, if your employer does not subscribe to the Texas workers’ compensation system, they may have a “non subscriber’s insurance policy.” Depending on the type of policy, your employer may pay you disability benefits and for your medical bills.
Generally, these types of policies often have very strict requirements and, specifically, require strict compliance with certain deadlines.
For example, many policies require that you report your injury by the end of your workday or else you are disqualified from receiving any benefits.
What if your employer carries no insurance for injured workers?
If your employer does not carry insurance for injured workers and you are injured on the job, you may not receive any disability benefits or be paid for your medical care. In this situation, your only legal recourse is to pursue a claim against your employer.
In Texas, if your employer or co-worker was negligent in causing your injury or if your employer failed to provide a safe work environment that resulted in your injury, then your employer may be responsible for paying all of your damages.
However, even if the employer is at fault, they may not have the funds or assets to pay any claim or legal judgment against them, so it may be fruitless to pursue a claim. You won’t know until you speak with an experienced attorney who can investigate your specific circumstances.
If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, you have nothing to lose by spending a few minutes explaining the situation to our Board Certified attorneys. Remember, your consultation with our firm is free. But failing to take action can have a lifetime of consequences.
Justin is an attorney at Roberts & Roberts and focuses his practice on mass tort litigation, where he specializes in helping individuals who are harmed by recalled or unsafe pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices. He has earned recognition as a “Top 40 Under 40” Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers. Prior to joining Roberts & Roberts, Justin served as an attorney in all three branches of Texas’s state government, including as a Briefing Attorney on the Texas Supreme Court. He also represented electric and natural gas utilities in complex regulatory proceedings before the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Railroad Commission of Texas. Justin is a published author in the St. Mary’s Law Journal.