In 2017, there were 2.2 non-fatal occupational injuries or illnesses per 100 full-time workers in the Texas private sector. This number is below the national average. But it still represents a significant portion of the Texas workforce.
Like every state, Texas has work compensation laws. These regulate how employers treat workplace injuries and how they compensate injured workers.
However, Texas laws differ slightly from the laws of most other states. If you’re concerned about worker’s compensation in Texas, keep reading to learn more.
What are Workers’ Compensation Laws?
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance. Work compensation laws are a system of rules that help to pay the expenses of employees who are injured while at work. They allow employees to recover lost wages, pay medical expenses, and take care of other costs.
Although employers pay mandatory contributions to receive workers’ compensation insurance, the state administers the system.
Some states have enacted workers’ compensation laws to help remove the possibility of litigation. In turn, this helps workers access the funds they need to recover.
Some states require employers to contribute to this insurance. However, other states, like Texas, do not.
How are Work Compensation Laws Different in Texas?
Only employers who contract with the Texas state government are required to obtain workers’ compensation insurance.
Workers’ compensation limits the employer’s liability, except when gross negligence is the result of injury or death. Gross negligence claims are separate from workers’ compensation claims.
Many Texas employers do choose to obtain this insurance, even though they aren’t mandated to.
When an employer is insured, employees who work for them agree to surrender the right to file a lawsuit against their employer. With this bargain, employees will receive benefits if they are injured at work.
When an employer is uninsured, they lose certain legal protections. For example, they are not immune from lawsuits put forth by injured employees.
However, this lack of coverage means it can be difficult for injured employees to obtain worker’s compensation benefits.
Also, many employees choose not to file a lawsuit against their employer after they are injured. Large companies have the funds to field armies of lawyers to protect them against lawsuits. The court process alone can draw out for months and years.
When you’re just trying to recover from an injury and make ends meet, the last thing you want to do is go to court. But it’s important for employees to understand and protect their rights.
Protect Your Workers’ Compensation Rights
You have rights and responsibilities under Texas work compensation laws. For example, you have a right to hire an attorney to help with your claim. You have a right to choose your own doctor and a right to confidentiality.
You have three key responsibilities under Texas employment compensation law:
- You should obtain medical care for your injury
- You have 30 days to notify your employer about a work-related injury (typically in writing)
- You have 1 year to file a claim for compensation
You may be entitled to income and medical benefits. But if you don’t follow the right steps, you may not qualify.
Thomas Barnes is a personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyer in South Texas. If you have been injured at work, contact Barnes Law Firm to speak with our skilled attorney in a free consultation.
You can also call us locally at (713) 652-4002 or toll-free at (888) 661-4002.