If you’ve been injured on the job, workers’ compensation may provide the help you need, in the form of medical care and replacement income. Workers’ compensation also provides death benefits to dependents of a worker who was killed on the job or later died as a result of a work-related injury. But, Texas workers’ comp laws are a bit different from the workers’ comp systems in many other states, and you may or may not have access to benefits.
Here’s what you need to know about how workers’ compensation works in Texas, how to pursue benefits if you’ve been injured, and what to do if you’re not protected by workers’ comp.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a system of insurance that provides benefits for people who are injured on the job or suffer from occupational illnesses. Workers’ comp is “no fault,” which means that the injured worker doesn’t have to prove that the employer did something wrong that caused the injury or allowed it to happen. This is generally good for workers and businesses.
The injured worker generally has quicker and easier access to compensation, which helps avoid delays in medical treatment and significant gaps in income. The employer avoids the more significant costs associated with a personal injury case. And, the employee and employer don’t have to fight one another.
Have You Had an Accident at Work? What You Need to Know
Since workers’ compensation is not mandatory in Texas, the first thing you need to know is whether or not you are covered. Employers in Texas can opt out of worker’s compensation, which means workers’ comp benefits won’t be available to you. Even if your employer participates in the workers’ compensation system, employees are offered the opportunity to opt out upon hire–so, whether or not workers’ comp benefits are available may depend on the choice you made.
If you do have workers’ compensation coverage, the first step is to notify your employer of your injury. Then, the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) will send you a packet with information and forms to complete. The process is designed to be simple, but it doesn’t always work out that way. It’s important to monitor your claim and consult a local workers’ comp attorney if there are unreasonable delays, your claim is improperly denied, your benefits aren’t calculated properly or other issues arise.
What to Do if You Don’t Have Workers’ Comp Coverage
Since workers’ comp is not required in Texas, you may find yourself unprotected. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have no recourse. When a Texas employer opts out of offering workers’ compensation, the business opens itself up to personal injury lawsuits by injured workers and wrongful death claims from surviving family members. So, if you don’t have workers’ comp coverage, you may be able to sue your employer for damages.
While this process is more involved and can take longer than pursuing a workers’ compensation claim, a personal injury suit also offers a wider range of possible compensation. Workers’ compensation pays only replacement income, medical expenses, and death benefits. But, a personal injury suit may seek damages for non-economic losses like pain and suffering.
It’s also possible that there may be a third party who is partly or wholly responsible. Some examples include the manufacturer of defective equipment that caused or contributed to your injury, a contractor or employee of another company that created or contributed to the dangerous situation, or a driver who hit your company vehicle while you were out on a delivery.
How Can a Workers’ Comp Lawyer Help Me?
The best source of information about your possible claims is a local workers’ comp lawyer who also handles personal injury and product liability cases. That broader knowledge will allow your workers’ comp attorney to assess your options and advise you on the best approach for your situation.
Where to Find a Workers’ Comp Attorney in San Antonio
Finding a workers’ compensation attorney / work injury lawyer is easy. Finding the right attorney for you and your situation takes a little more work. It’s important to find an attorney who is experienced with Texas workers’ comp claims and any other claims you may have in the wake of your work accident. But, that’s just one factor.
It’s also important to ensure that you are comfortable with the attorney who will be representing you, and that your workers’ comp attorney listens to your concerns, answers your questions, and explains things in language you can understand. The best way to learn more about these factors is to schedule a consultation. The George Salinas Injury Lawyers offer free consultations to people who have been hurt on the job, so you can gather information and get a sense of the people you’d be working with.
To schedule yours, call 210-225-0909, fill out our contact form, or click in the lower right corner of this page to chat.
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