Injured on a Texas worksite? You’re not alone. The latest numbers show that 178,600 workers were injured in the Lone Star State in 2020.
So, if you were one of the many Texas workers injured on the job, does that mean you can sue your employer?
Well, thanks to Texas’ unique workplace injury laws, the answer isn’t so simple. In this article, our Dallas work injury attorneys will explain the law, how workers’ compensation works, and circumstances where it might make sense to make a claim against your employer.
Texas' Unique Workers' Compensation Laws
Workers’ compensation insurance is a type of insurance employers can purchase that gives their employees some medical and wage benefits in the event of an injury. In exchange, an employee cannot sue an employer directly for damages if they receive or are eligible for workers’ comp benefits—but only if the workers’ comp provided is part of the Texas Workers’ Compensation Subscription plan.
Essentially, it’s a way to provide protection for the employee and shield the employer from negligence lawsuits.
Unlike most other states, Texas employers aren’t required to subscribe to workers’ comp insurance. Though this business-friendly law allows employers to save costs by giving them the choice to opt-out, they pay a price in liability for forgoing participation in this program.
Understanding Your Options After a Workplace Injury
Your avenue towards compensation will vary depending on whether or not your employer has workers’ compensation and the circumstances surrounding your injury.
As we mentioned earlier, employers who subscribe to Texas Workers’ Compensation are shielded from simple negligence lawsuits, which means bringing a case against them is nearly impossible unless gross negligence was involved.
However, employers who opt-out of Texas’ workers’ compensation programs are vulnerable to legal action. And, there’s nothing in Texas workers compensation law that prevents you from suing a third-party if they caused or contributed to your on-duty accident.
After an injury on the job, it’s always advisable to consult with a team of Dallas work injury attorneys. They can review your case, determine the best legal strategy, and ensure you receive adequate compensation for your injuries.
If Your Employer Doesn't Have Workers' Compensation
Employers that do not participate in Texas’ workers compensation programs are considered “non-subscribers.” While most employers choose to subscribe to Texas Workers’ Compensation, about one-third of Texas employers have opted-out.
Some of these employers might purchase accident, disability and health insurance policies for employees or find alternative workers’ comp plans to save money on Texas workers comp insurance. However, these savings come with big risks.
Texas law is very clear that these alternative methods aren’t a substitute for Texas Workers’ Compensation, and these employers are still considered non-subscribers. As non-subscribers, these employers lose a government-provided safeguard against lawsuits. And in the same way that workers’ comp protects employers from claims of negligence, the reverse happens here— non-subscribers can’t introduce evidence of an employee’s negligence.
If your employer is a non-subscriber and you were injured on the job, you have the right to sue them for the following losses:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
If Your Employer Has Workers' Compensation
Worker’s compensation operates under a “no-fault” system. This means that as an employee, you do not need to prove that your employer was negligent in order to obtain workers’ compensation benefits.
If your employer offers workers’ compensation, you can file a work injury claim and may receive benefits, which include:
- Income benefits or wage loss benefits
- Medical benefits
- Vocational rehabilitation
You cannot, however, sue them for any damages caused by simple negligence.
Workers' Compensation Insurance Doesn't Protect Employers From Gross Negligence
While workers’ comp insurance protects employers from liability resulting from simple negligence, it doesn’t shield them from gross negligence or deliberate misconduct.
Gross negligence occurs when an employer does something that intentionally harms a worker. For instance, some employers might intentionally disregard a legally-required safety procedure in an attempt to save money or complete a job more quickly.
Gross negligence is harder to prove because it requires evidence that the employer knew what they were doing and the risks involved, but they decided to do it anyway.
If you suspect your injuries were the result of gross negligence, it’s even more critical to consult with a team of Dallas work injury attorneys. Injuries as a result of gross negligence are often more severe and could result in higher medical bills, and thus, greater damages. An experienced work injury attorney can help you determine if gross negligence was the cause of your accident and gather the necessary evidence to bring your employer to justice.
Our Dallas Work Injury Attorneys Can Help You Understand Your Options
If you were seriously injured at work, you may be owed benefits. However, due to Texas’ unique workplace injury and liability laws, determining how you receive compensation can be tricky.
A Dallas work injury attorney can help you explore all of your legal options—whether that’s filing a workplace injury claim, settling the case outside of a lawsuit, or taking your employer to court. Our attorneys will conduct an in-depth investigation of the circumstances surrounding your injury and explore all possible sources of financial compensation. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.