Workers’ Compensation Attorney Texas
Victims who are injured on the job in Texas have the legal right to be compensated for their losses. Our experienced Texas workers’ compensation attorneys fight hard to protect the rights of all injury victims. If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, it is important to get an injury lawyer fighting on your corner. Your employer is not necessarily on your side.
Their workers’ compensation insurance covers workplace injuries, which means that they want to avoid claims whenever possible. You may also have other legal claims against your employer apart from workers’ compensation, which is why it is important to get legal advice from your own Texas accident attorney – not your company’s HR or legal department.
Our skilled workers’ compensation attorneys in Texas are here to answer all your questions. Learn more about Texas workers’ compensation coverage and your rights under state law.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a program of legal protections for injured workers. These protections are supported by a series of laws across the United States. Workers’ compensation laws protect workers in many different ways:
- They require employers to pay for medical bills and a portion of lost wages.
- They require employers to carry insurance (or other proof of financial responsibility) to ensure that there are funds available for the compensation that is owed.
- They prohibit employers from retaliating against workers who file workers’ compensation claims.
These are important legal protections. Before workers’ compensation laws were enacted, an injured employee had no right to be paid for their injuries. They could even be fired if their injuries left them unable to work. Now, injured workers have legal protections that ensure they have access to insurance funds for the compensation they are owed.
They also cannot face any discrimination from their employers for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Discrimination can include being fired or written up, but it also covers more subtle changes. Some employers try to demote employees, switch them to less desirable shifts, or deny them opportunities to earn overtime pay as a consequence of filing a workers’ compensation claim.
All of these auctions are prohibited by law. When you hire a workers’ compensation attorney, your employer knows that you are not only demanding the compensation you are owed by law but also enforcing your right to be free from discrimination related to your claim.
The Coverage Available Under Workers’ Compensation Insurance Policies
Workers’ compensation policies are no-fault policies, meaning that you do not have to prove who was at fault for an accident before you can be paid. So long as the injury occurred while you were on the job, workers’ compensation coverage applies, which is by design. Workers’ compensation is intended to get medical bills paid as quickly as possible. By eliminating the requirement to prove negligence, employees have faster access to coverage for their medical bills.
Unfortunately, there is also a downside. Easier access means that there is less coverage. In a personal injury claim, you are entitled to compensation for all your medical bills, all your lost wages (including future decreases to your earning capacity), and fair compensation for your pain and suffering. Not all of these losses are covered under workers’ compensation policies.
What Is Not Covered by Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation offers no compensation for pain and suffering, which is significant since the largest component of most personal injury claims is pain and suffering, which is why it is important to consult with an attorney after being injured on the job. You may have the right to file a personal injury claim in addition to – or instead of – a workers’ compensation claim.
Workers’ compensation also does not cover the full value of your lost wages. These policies pay a set portion (but not the full amount) of your earnings before the accident. If you qualify for short-term or long-term disability, there are set benefits for lost wages, but these are not the full value of everything you have lost. A personal injury claim allows you to prove the full value of all future lost earnings, including employment benefits like an employer’s contributions to health insurance premiums and retirement accounts.
These future losses can be significant. Death benefits are also limited under workers’ compensation policies. A civil lawsuit for wrongful death allows the survivors to prove the full value of the deceased employee’s lost wages, all burial and funeral expenses, and certain emotional losses. Workers’ compensation limits benefits by capping both the amount of wages that can be claimed and how long survivors are eligible to receive these benefits.
The Texas Department of Insurance provides a helpful guide to death benefits. Our wrongful death lawyers help family members access all benefits under applicable workers’ compensation policies, as well as explore any additional civil claims they have. Doing so ensures that survivors have access to all the money they are legally owed for a wrongful death that occurs on the job.
Common Workplace Injuries in Texas
According to the Houston Business Journal, the most common workplace injuries in the Houston area were in the services industry. 41 percent of all injuries were in the service industry, followed by 18 percent in manufacturing and 14 percent in construction. The most common injuries were sprains and other injuries caused by lifting. The next most common injuries were cuts, punctures, and scrapes, followed by falls, trips, and slips.
It should be noted that this data was collected only from employers in the Houston area. Across the country, far more serious injuries occur in many industries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a total of 5,333 deaths on the job in 2019, a rise of 2 percent over the 2018 totals.
It remains to be seen how the pandemic will affect workplace fatality rates, but it is worth noting that coronavirus exposure can be covered by workers’ compensation if the employee can prove they were exposed to COVID while on the job. The federal government has made it even easier for federal employees to get workers’ compensation coverage for COVID.
Certain high-risk jobs (especially those that require exposure to the public) are presumed to cause COVID exposure, which allows those specified workers to file a workers’ compensation claim without proving where they contracted COVID-19. Whether you have been injured in an accident or contracted an illness such as COVID, it is important to consult with a Texas workers’ compensation lawyer about any workplace illness or injury.
Your Legal Rights as an Injured Worker
As an injured worker, you have important legal rights throughout the claims process. It is important to understand these rights so that you do not miss out on any compensation you are owed for your injuries. What follows are a few important rights you should keep in mind.
You have the right to get emergency medical care without prior authorization or approval of the insurance company. – Insurance policies have provisions for emergency medical care. If you are badly injured and need to leave the scene in an ambulance, you do not have to get authorization from the insurance company.
You also do not have to get approval to go to the emergency department. These emergency bills must be covered. Later, the insurance company can require you to go to a doctor who has been approved, but only after your condition is stable. Do not hesitate to get any emergency medical treatment that you need.
You have the right to hire an attorney to protect your legal rights. – It is important to get a workers’ compensation lawyer on your side as soon as possible. Remember, the insurance company does not work for you. Their job is to pay as little as possible on as few claims as possible. Your employer is also not on your side. After all, it is their workers’ compensation policy, and you might also have a legal claim against them.
Only your own lawyer is on your side. The best way to protect your legal rights is to get the advice of a Texas workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney will advise you throughout the process to be sure your medical bills get paid, you are receiving any lost wages you are owed, and you do not face discrimination for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
You have the right to get a second opinion. – Seeking a second opinion can be tricky in a workers’ compensation case. Workers’ compensation insurers do not have to pay medical bills for any doctor you choose. There is an approved list of doctors of which the insurance company works off. But if you are not comfortable with your “approved” doctor, you are not stuck with that one medical opinion, an especially important point if the doctor does not seem to understand your needs, seems to be out of their depth, or is simply not a good fit for your case.
There are options for getting a second opinion. What you must not do is start seeing another doctor without approval. These charges could be denied, and you could end up stuck with the bills. Instead, talk with your workers’ compensation lawyer about any concerns you have with your “approved” doctor. Your attorney will help you figure out how to get the care you need from a provider you trust.
You have the right to be free from retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim. – The law is very clear on this point, stating that injured employees cannot face discrimination at work because they have filed a workers’ compensation claim. Doing so is known as “retaliation.” The most obvious case of retaliation is simply firing an employee for filing a claim. Employers are rarely so obvious because it is blatantly illegal. You are more likely to face more subtle signs of retaliation.
Perhaps you are assigned to a less desirable shift or given fewer responsibilities. You might be given fewer opportunities to make overtime pay or earn advancements within the company. These actions could be unlawful. Be sure to consult with your workers’ compensation lawyer if you are experiencing any “consequences” at work after filing a workers’ compensation claim. An attorney will know the best way to protect your legal rights as you move forward.
Why Accepting Workers’ Compensation Benefits Can Be Risky
Though workers’ compensation is an important legal right that provides you with compensation for your injuries, it is not the only legal remedy that might be available to you. Injured workers have the right to bring a personal injury claim against their employers for negligence.
But in many cases, the employee must choose between either a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury claim, which is why it is important to understand the difference between the two – and how a lawyer can help you choose the best option for your particular case.
The Difference Between a Personal Injury Claim and Workers’ Compensation Benefits – As we have learned, workers’ compensation is easier to access than personal injury compensation, but its benefits are more limited, meaning that you are usually entitled to more compensation through a personal injury claim than a workers’ compensation claim. Many injured victims thus choose a personal injury claim over a workers’ compensation claim when both are available to them. (Remember, in order to have a personal injury claim, you must be able to prove that your employer was negligent in a specific way that caused your injury.)
Why You Have to Choose a Claim Against Your Employer – It might seem unfair that you have to choose one claim or the other. Remember, however, that a personal injury claim covers everything under workers’ compensation, plus more. Personal injury claims will rarely (if ever) cause you to lose out on compensation you would have been owed under workers’ compensation. The trouble comes when an employee files for workers’ compensation before they know their personal injury rights.
Once the workers’ compensation claim has been filed and you accept benefits, it might be too late to file a personal injury claim, causing you to miss out on compensation for the losses that are not covered by workers’ compensation. The same goes for death benefits: if survivors file for the limited death benefits covered by workers’ compensation, they could miss out on additional compensation they would be owed in a wrongful death lawsuit against the employer.
So why do you have to choose? The civil court system in America encourages all claimants to resolve their claims as quickly as possible (which is why there are statutes of limitation that bar claims from being filed too late). The courts also discourage the relitigation of multiple issues.
Because a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury claim against an employer will arise from the same accident, it would be repetitive to litigate a workers’ compensation claim, then take the entire case to court again for personal injury losses. It might not seem fair, but it does help the court system work more efficiently. So long as you consult with a lawyer before filing either type of claim, your legal rights can be protected.
Injury Claims Against Third Parties – There is one more critical point to be made about this “election of remedies” rule. It only applies to claims against your employer. You must pick one type of claim against your employer (either workers’ compensation or personal injury), but you are still free to file personal injury claims against any other party who caused your injuries. For example, suppose that a construction worker was injured when a cement truck malfunctioned on a worksite.
The victim is entitled to workers’ compensation because he was on the job at the time of the accident. He may also have a personal injury case against the manufacturer of the defective cement truck. If so, he may file both a workers’ compensation claim against his employer, as well as a personal injury claim against the manufacturer because there is a different defendant on the second claim. Our Texas injury attorneys can help find all potential claims you have against all potential defendants so that you do not miss out on any of the compensation you are legally owed for your injuries.
FAQ About Workers’ Compensation in Texas
If you have been injured in an accident at work, you probably have a lot of questions about your legal rights. Our Texas workers’ compensation lawyers have prepared this handy guide with the answers to questions we are asked most often. Of course, it is still important to schedule your free consultation so that we can give you advice specific to your unique situation. In the meantime, read on to learn more about your legal rights regarding workplace injuries and illnesses.
Who pays for workers’ compensation?
According to the Texas Department of Insurance, most private employers are not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage by Texas law. Those that are required to carry it must pay the premiums for these policies. You will have no payroll deductions for workers’ compensation insurance. If your employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance, they must notify you of that fact in writing.
Your employer will also lose protection from lawsuits (including key legal defenses that prevent some workers from getting any benefits under workers’ compensation policies), making it more difficult for employees to access funds, but they can also get larger awards for their injuries. In either event, your employer must pay for either workers’ compensation policy premiums or the cost of personal injury settlements.
How long do workers’ compensation benefits last?
Workers’ compensation coverage must pay for all medical expenses related to your injury or illness. In some cases, permanent conditions require a lifetime of medical care. Workers’ compensation benefits must pay for all related medical care you require. But unlike medical payments, lost wage benefits are limited under workers’ compensation policies.
Temporary wage benefits are limited to a set portion of your average weekly earnings before the accident. If you have suffered a permanent injury, a workers’ compensation doctor must agree that you have reached the level of Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) that can be expected for your injuries.
If you are still unable to work at MMI, you might be eligible for permanent disability benefits. These, too, are limited. It is important to work with a workers’ compensation attorney to be sure you are receiving the maximum benefits you are entitled to under your employer’s plan. You may also be entitled to other disability benefits, such as social security disability income (SSDI).
Can I receive unemployment benefits while on workers’ compensation?
Unemployment benefits are only available to claimants who are not only able to work but actively looking for a job. Workers’ compensation benefits for lost wages are only available to workers who are out of work because of their injuries. Because of these requirements, it is usually not possible to receive both benefits at the same time.
An injury victim could, however, receive ongoing medical care paid by workers’ compensation while still looking for active employment, so long as their doctor has authorized them to return to work. These benefits can be complicated, which is why it is important to hire your own Texas injury lawyer to advise you about all the benefits that apply to your unique situation.
Can I receive disability payments through a workers’ compensation policy?
Workers’ compensation policies have provisions for both short and long-term disability benefits, depending on how long you will be out of work. These benefits are separate from social security disability income (SSDI). In both cases, these benefits are not likely to be as much as your earnings prior to your injuries, so it is important to consider supplemental insurance policies.
It is also important to hire a Texas accident lawyer to investigate any personal injury claims you might have. As we have seen, personal injury claims cover more losses than workers’ compensation insurance does, so you want to be sure you have a lawyer who is on your side advising you about this right. If you do not file a personal injury claim when you are entitled to do so, you could miss out on a huge amount of compensation to which you are legally entitled.
How long do I have to file a workers’ compensation claim?
Texas law creates a statute of limitations of one year from the date of your injury. Of course, your attorney will need time to investigate your case before this deadline, so it is important to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible. There are also other deadlines that might apply to other claims you have.
If, for example, you have a personal injury claim against a government entity, you might have to give notice at an earlier point. It is always best to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after any workplace accident. Doing so ensures that your injury lawyer has as much time as possible to investigate your case. Your lawyer also starts protecting your legal rights as soon as they are hired, so the sooner, the better!
Do I really need a workers’ compensation lawyer? Won’t the insurance company take care of it?
The insurance company is not on your side. Like all insurance companies, workers’ compensation carriers train their claims adjusters to pay as little as possible on as few claims as possible. It is in the insurance company’s interest to pay as little as possible on your claim.
It is, of course, in your interest to get all the compensation you are fairly owed, which is why it is so important to hire a Texas workers’ compensation lawyer. Your lawyer is on your side. Unlike the insurance company and its employees, your lawyer’s job is to get you as much compensation as possible for your injuries.
Our Texas workers’ compensation lawyers fight hard to protect your right to compensation. As soon as we are hired, we take steps to protect our client’s legal rights from strategies, trucks, and attacks that insurance companies are likely to use. We also handle all communications with the insurance company so that you do not accidentally say anything that could hurt your case.
Experienced, Aggressive Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Texas
You could spend hours searching online for a “Texas workers’ compensation lawyer near me,” but you have already found the best injury law firm in the Lone Star State. Our skilled workers’ compensation lawyers have decades of experience handling all types of injury cases. We have collected over 200 million dollars for our clients, and we serve clients all across the Lone Star State.
From Amarillo to Corpus Christi, Fort Bliss to Beaumont, Dallas, Fort Worth, Waco, Austin, San Antonio, and everywhere in between, our legal team is here to help. Call (888) 398-4017 to schedule your free consultation. Don’t wait to get an injury lawyer fighting on your side. The sooner you have advice from your own attorney, the better protected your important legal rights will be.