Workers’ compensation could provide crucial income for you and your family if you suffer a serious injury on the job. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system that offers employees financial benefits for occupational illnesses and injuries. If you qualify for workers’ compensation after a workplace accident, you could receive a check to cover your medical expenses and lost wages while you are out of work. Not all employers carry workers’ compensation in Texas, however.
Workers’ Compensation Laws in Texas
Texas is the only state in America that does not make workers’ compensation insurance a requirement for employers. Instead, workers’ compensation is an optional type of coverage. Although many employers opt to purchase workers’ compensation to reduce their liabilities, others choose not to offer this insurance. All employers must notify new employees of coverage or non coverage for work-related injuries. As a new employee, you will have the option to waive your right to workers’ comp coverage within five days.
If your employer does have workers’ compensation insurance, your boss should tell you this and assist you with the claims process after you suffer a work-related accident, injury or illness. You must report your injuries to your employer within 30 days of the accident in question to receive workers’ comp coverage. You will then have one year from the date of the accident to file the paperwork for an official workers’ compensation claim. A San Antonio workplace accident lawyer can help you pursue compensation for injuries sustained during work.
A successful workers’ compensation claim could lead to three main types of benefits for you as an injured worker: medical, income and death. Medical benefits will cover the full costs of your past and future medical expenses related to the occupational injury or illness. Income benefits will reimburse two-thirds of your gross weekly wages up to a state maximum. If you suffer a fatal injury on the job, death benefits will compensate your surviving dependents in a successful wrongful death claim.
Parties Eligible for Workers’ Compensation in Texas
First, find out if your employer offers workers’ compensation coverage. If you did not opt out within the first five days of your employment, you could be eligible for these benefits if you suffered any type of injury or illness on the job. If you pulled a muscle in your back lifting boxes at work, for example, workers’ compensation will provide benefits. Find out if workers’ compensation covers your injury. Any occupational illness or injury will qualify for workers’ comp as long as certain factors do not apply.
- Intentionally self-inflicted employee injuries
- Injuries while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Injuries incurred due to horseplay at work
- Injuries during a voluntary off-duty social or sports event
- Injuries caused by someone else for personal (not job-related) reasons
- Injuries incurred outside of work
- Injuries from inevitable events, such as natural disasters
If none of these factors played a role in your work-related injury, you could be eligible to recover benefits from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy. If your boss does not provide workers’ compensation, you may be able to file a civil personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party instead, including your employer, a coworker, a contractor or a product manufacturer. A civil claim could result in compensation for your economic and noneconomic damages.
Workers’ Compensation in Regard to Independent Contractors
Independent contractors technically work for themselves and are therefore ineligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits in most cases in Texas. An employer with workers’ comp insurance does not have to extend coverage to independent contractors. If an employer does wish to cover independent contractors, the contractor may be responsible for paying monthly premiums. Some contractors may require their independent contractors to carry their own workers’ comp insurance.
If you believe an employer has misclassified you as an independent contractor when your job description meets the definition of an employee to get out of offering workers’ compensation, talk to a workplace accident attorney. You could be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits after an accident even if your employer says you do not qualify. The employer may have accidentally or intentionally misclassified you to avoid paying for workers’ compensation insurance.