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Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Texas
Can I get workers’ compensation for a workplace injury?
In Texas, the answer is complex.
While most states require workers’ compensation insurance, Texas does not. It lets employers choose whether or not to carry workers’ comp. So, whether you can get workers’ comp depends on whether your employer has it.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is insurance coverage. It covers employees who receive work-related injuries or illnesses.
Worker’s Compensation Insurance Legal Requirements
In Texas, the Texas Workers’ Compensation program covers workers’ compensation insurance. Employers opt into the coverage. Employers can be subscribers, non-subscribers, or self-insured. Employers can also choose not to carry any insurance coverage for employee injuries.
- Subscribers have workers’ comp insurance.
- Non-subscribers may or may not have other insurance to cover injuries.
- Self-insured companies are their own insurers.
- Uninsured companies have no insurance.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Do?
Workers’ compensation can limit the amount and type of payment an employee can get. On the other hand, it is supposed to make personal injury claims easier for employees.
What If My Employer Is a Non-Subscriber to Workman’s Comp?
If your employer is a non-subscriber, you can sue them under normal personal injury laws. They may or may not have other insurance coverage. Under personal injury, you can collect damages and attorney’s fees.
In Texas, being a non-subscriber means an employer can not use certain defenses usually available in personal injury cases. These defenses include
- Last clear chance
- Contributory negligence
- Assumption of the risk
- Co-worker negligence
Can I Recover If My Employer Does Not Have Workers’ Comp Coverage?
Yes. You can recover under their other insurance. Even if your employer does not have insurance, it does not mean you cannot recover for an injury. However, you may need to sue your employer directly.
What If My Employer Discontinued Workers’ Comp Coverage?
The law requires an employer to notify employees if it discontinues workers’ comp coverage.
Can I File a Personal Injury Claim If My Employer Has Workers’ Compensation Coverage?
When the company hires you, it must notify you whether or not it has workers’ comp insurance. The company also needs to post that information in the workplace. You have five days to waive your right to workers’ comp. If you waive workers’ comp, you can sue your employer for a work-related injury. However, waiving workers’ comp means you give up benefits and income under the workers’ compensation law.
How Do I Start My Workers’ Comp Case?
Starting a workers’ compensation case involves several steps to ensure that you receive the benefits and compensation you’re entitled to after a workplace injury. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to initiate your workers’ comp case:
- Seek Medical Attention:
- Your health is the top priority. If you’re injured at work, seek medical attention immediately. Depending on the severity of the injury, this might mean first aid, a visit to the emergency room, or seeing a doctor.
- Report the Injury:
- Notify your supervisor or employer about the injury as soon as possible. There’s often a limited time frame within which you must report an injury to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
- Complete an Injury Report:
- Fill out an official injury or accident report detailing how the injury occurred. This documentation is crucial for your claim. Ensure you get a copy of this report for your records.
- Choose a Doctor from the Approved List:
- In some states, you must see a doctor from a list approved by your employer or their insurance company for your treatment to be covered by workers’ compensation. Check with your employer or HR department about this.
- File a Workers’ Compensation Claim:
- To officially start your case, you’ll need to file a workers’ compensation claim with your state’s workers’ compensation board or agency. The specific form and process can vary by state.
- Gather and Keep Documentation:
- Keep all medical records, bills, and any other documentation related to your injury and treatment. This includes notes from doctors, prescription receipts, and any correspondence related to your injury or claim.
- Consult with a Workers’ Compensation Attorney:
- While not always necessary, consulting with an attorney who specializes in workers’ compensation can be beneficial, especially if your claim is denied, the benefits don’t cover your costs, or if there are complications with your case.
- Attend All Medical Appointments:
- It’s crucial to attend all scheduled medical appointments and follow your doctor’s advice. Missing appointments or not following treatment recommendations can negatively impact your claim.
- Stay Updated and Comply with Deadlines:
- Workers’ compensation has specific deadlines for reporting injuries, filing claims, and other processes. Ensure you’re aware of and comply with these deadlines.
- Communicate with Your Employer:
- Stay in touch with your employer about your recovery status, any work restrictions, and your expected return-to-work date. Open communication can help ensure a smoother process.
- Appeal if Necessary:
- If your claim is denied, or if you disagree with the benefits decision, you have the right to appeal. The appeals process can vary by state, but it typically involves hearings and presenting evidence to support your claim.
- Understand Your Rights:
- Familiarize yourself with your rights under workers’ compensation laws in your state. This includes the types of benefits you’re entitled to, the process for disputes, and protections against retaliation.
Starting a workers’ compensation case can be a complex process, and each state has its own specific rules and procedures. If you’re unsure about any step or feel overwhelmed, consider seeking legal counsel to guide you through the process and advocate on your behalf.
Start Your Work Injury Claim
You need to begin your claim officially. In most workplaces, you contact HR. HR then tells you what steps to follow for your claim. You may get an ombudsman to help you with your claim.
Workers have 30 days to file injury reports. You have up to a year to file your workers’ compensation claim. However, you may have to take action before that time. If you want to appeal an impairment rating, you have 90 days to do so.
Generally, the time starts running when the incident occurs. However, suppose you did not immediately know the nature of the illness or injury. In that case, the time starts running on the date you should have known.
When Does Workers’ Comp Not Apply?
Workers’ compensation covers most workplace incidents. However, it explicitly excludes injuries caused by
- Criminal acts
- Intoxication (drugs or alcohol)
- Off-duty recreational activities (workplace parties)
- Third-party criminal acts unrelated to work
- Acts of God
What Types of Benefits Can I Get Under Workers’ Comp?
Workers comp offers three types of benefits
- Medical benefits
- Income benefits
- Death benefits
Do I Have to Return to Work?
Workers’ compensation laws favor return-to-work programs. Your employer may want to put you on light-duty work. If you refuse to accept suitable light duty work, that can lead to stopping workers’ comp benefit payments.
What If My Employer Fires Me for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Retaliatory firing and discrimination are both prohibited by the law.
If your employer fires you for filing a workers’ compensation claim, it’s essential to know your rights and the legal protections in place. Here’s a breakdown of what you should be aware of and the steps you can take:
- Retaliation is Illegal:
- In most states, it’s illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Retaliation can include firing, demotion, reducing pay, changing job duties, or any other adverse employment action taken because of the claim.
- Document Everything:
- If you suspect that your employer might retaliate or if they’ve already taken adverse action against you, start documenting everything. This includes conversations, emails, performance reviews, and any other relevant communications or actions related to your job and the workers’ comp claim.
- Consult with an Attorney:
- If you believe you’ve been wrongfully terminated or faced retaliation for filing a workers’ comp claim, consult with an attorney who specializes in employment law or workers’ compensation. They can advise you on your rights and the best course of action.
- File a Complaint:
- If you’ve been retaliated against, you can file a complaint with the appropriate state agency that oversees workers’ compensation. This agency varies by state but is often called the Workers’ Compensation Board or Commission.
- Potential Remedies:
- If it’s determined that your employer did retaliate against you, you might be entitled to various remedies. These can include reinstatement to your job, back pay, compensation for any losses, and even punitive damages in some cases.
- Other Legal Protections:
- Apart from workers’ compensation laws, other state and federal employment laws might protect you from retaliation. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for reporting workplace safety issues.
- Proving Retaliation:
- It’s crucial to understand that to win a retaliation claim, you’ll typically need to prove that:
- You engaged in a protected activity (like filing a workers’ comp claim).
- Your employer took adverse action against you.
- There’s a causal connection between the protected activity and the adverse action.
- It’s crucial to understand that to win a retaliation claim, you’ll typically need to prove that:
- Stay Professional:
- Even if you suspect retaliation, it’s essential to remain professional at work. Continue to perform your job duties to the best of your ability and avoid confrontations. This ensures that your employer doesn’t have legitimate grounds for any adverse actions.
- Seek Support:
- Dealing with potential retaliation can be stressful. Consider seeking support from coworkers, union representatives (if applicable), or counseling services to help you navigate the situation.
In conclusion, while the fear of retaliation can be daunting, it’s essential to remember that you have rights and legal protections. If you believe you’re facing retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim, take action by documenting evidence, consulting with an attorney, and understanding your legal options.
Houston Workmans Comp Lawyer FAQ
Do I Keep Getting Benefits While On Leave?
The law does not require your employer to allow you to get benefits like accruing PTO while on leave.
Can Other Laws Impact My Claim?
Absolutely. Other laws may apply depending on the nature and scope of your injury. The Family Medical Leave Act and the Anti-Discrimination Act frequently interact with personal injury cases.
Do I Keep My Health Insurance While on Workers’ Compensation Leave?
Some employers allow you to keep your health insurance while on leave. If yours does not, you will qualify for COBRA.
Can I Get Unemployment While On Workers’ Compensation Leave?
Sometimes. Workers’ comp usually disqualifies people from getting unemployment. However, if you have a permanent, partial disability, you may be able to get unemployment.
Is An Ombudsman the Same As an Attorney?
No. The Office of Injured Employee Counsel offers ombudsman services for injured employees. They can also help family members. Their job is to provide you with information. They also try to help resolve the dispute. They might even attend proceedings with you. While an ombudsman might seem like an attorney, they do not represent you. They are not your counsel. Ombudsmen are generally on the employee’s side. However, they are frequently underpaid and overworked. They may not be able to give your case the attention it deserves.
Find Workers’ Comp Attorney Near Me
Theoretically, the workers’ comp system runs smoothly. It should cover employee medical costs and time off from work. However, insurers may try to underpay you. Plus, it can become very complicated.
Contact Us Today
Contact a workers’ comp lawyer if you have
- Been hurt on the job
- Missed 7 or more days from work
- Think your workers’ comp payments are too low
- Had your workers’ comp claim denied
- Had your job threatened if you made a claim
The Salazar Law Firm provides free, no-obligation workers’ compensation consultations. We can make sure you understand your rights and duties. With that information, you can make an informed decision about whether you need an attorney.