Houston Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
Protecting Workers in Thousands of Cases Nationwide
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance used by employers to pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and other benefits after a worker has been injured. When a worker is injured, they usually must file a claim for worker’s compensation within 30 days of the injury or the illness becoming known.
Even though the law requires employers to provide a safe work environment for their employees, these standards are not always met—and specific workplaces can still be dangerous. This is particularly true for industrial and offshore work, which have a higher probability of workplace injuries. For this precise reason, workers’ comp is available to protect those who have been wrongfully harmed while working. Workers’ comp provides wages and medical benefits for the injuries incurred on the job. This is meant to help the employee recover, especially if the injury has prompted a temporary leave from his or her occupation or requires job accommodations.
Workers’ compensation also waives an employee’s right to sue the employer. The system is designed to ensure that injured employees are compensated while insulating employers against endless litigation.
Workers’ Compensation, Loopholes & No-Fault Claims
Worker’s compensation is a no-fault claim, which means the worker has a right to compensation without the need for proving employer negligence. However, employers may use other loopholes to deny compensation. For instance, if there were no witnesses to an accident, then an employer may use this as a reason to deny the veracity of the claim. Certain injuries like repetitive stress injury may not be entirely verifiable as occurring due to workplace hazards, even with X-rays and tests. Employers can use this as a reason to deny or delay compensation.
Workers’ compensation laws tend to favor the worker over the employer, but employers may still try to find loopholes.
Workers’ Compensation Specifics: “Non-Subscriber” Claims
Texas is the only state in America that does not require employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. While most Texas companies still carry workers’ compensation insurance to protect themselves, some businesses choose to be “non-subscribers." A non-subscriber is a business that chooses not to give their employees the ability to file for workers’ comp. Non-subscriber companies are not involved in workers’ compensation claims, but they open themselves to substantial lawsuits. In Texas, a lawsuit against a non-subscriber is stronger than a typical personal injury lawsuit. This is because companies that forgo workers’ comp claims also forgo certain privileges.
Some of the privileges they forgo include:
Assumption of Risk:
An employer shouldn’t be held liable for an injury when the job is “inherently risky.”
An employee’s partial responsibility for a personal injury due to a lack of prudent behavior.
Last Clear Chance:
A situation where an injured employee probably failed to take an opportunity to get out of harm’s way.
Workers' Compensation vs. Filing a Lawsuit Against Your Employer
Generally, employees are not allowed to sue their employers for injuries covered under workers' compensation.
There are exceptions to this rule, however:
- A worker can sue if the employer has not purchased workers' compensation insurance. Most states, however, do require that employers purchase insurance to cover workplace injuries.
- A worker can sue an employer if his particular illness or injury is not covered under the workers' compensation laws of his state. For instance, work-related mental stress trauma may not be covered under the workers' comp statutes of some states. In such cases, employers may not be protected from lawsuits. However, the responsibility is on the employee to prove negligence.
- A worker can sue if the injury is a result of the intentionally negligent actions of the employer. For instance, many states now allow personal injury claims to be brought against employers if it can be proved that the employer was aware of a particular hazard in the workplace, was aware that it posed a considerable danger to workers' health and safety, but allowed exposure anyway.
Whether or not these factors will apply in your specific case can be determined by an industrial injury attorney working on your behalf. Without experienced legal help, it's prohibitively difficult to quantify an exact claim amount. It's a common mistake, and one with potentially tragic consequences, to make conservative estimates and claims that barely take into account existing medical bills, lost wages, and other benefits.
Besides these, there are the long-term costs of an injury that you have to account for. There may be long-term effects of the injury or illness that require additional medical expenses later, including the need for specialized care and rehabilitation therapy. Because of your injury, it may take much longer to get back to work than you realize, and in the worst case, future employment in your field or others may be out of the question.
Workers’ Compensation Specifics: Third-Party Claims
Just because your employer has workers’ compensation that does not mean that you cannot file a lawsuit. In some circumstances, your work injury could be filed under a “third-party” claim. A third-party claim is a lawsuit that is made by an employee against another entity other than the employer. For example, if one employee hurts another, the injured employee may pursue a third-party claim against the worker. Similarly, if an individual was injured by the use of a defective, dangerous product, there may be grounds to pursue a claim against the manufacturer.
Here is a list of common “third-party” claims and the party being sued for each claim:
- Injury by Another Entity - Claim made against the entity.
- Injury by Malfunctioning Equipment - Claim made against the equipment manufacturer.
- Injury by Toxic Substance - Claim made against the manufacturer or other at-fault party.
An example of this is in construction, where there may be more than one company involved in a project. More than one party may share liability in the event of an injury.
Responsible parties may include the following:
- Manufacturers of defective equipment or machinery
- Companies that may be involved in the oversight of work
- Architects who may be liable for the defective design of the site
If you have recently been involved in an industrial accident and are looking to file a personal injury claim relating to third party liability, it is in your best interests to contact Arnold & Itkin LLP. We have been able to recover billions of dollars on behalf of our clients. We know what is on the line, and we are prepared to go the distance in our efforts to provide our clients with the best representation.
Choosing a Third-Party Claim over Workers’ Compensation
Workers' compensation is appealing because it provides workers with a sure source of financial support after an accident. However, though it may take more time, a personal injury case against a third-party allows workers to pursue more damages and receive more compensation for their injuries. This additional compensation can help ensure their family is provided for if their injury is permanent or debilitating.
Third-party worker injury claims can seek compensation for the following:
- Loss of wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Physical and emotional suffering
- Past and future medical costs
- Compensation for property damage
- Any other appropriate damages
So, while an employee can file workers’ compensation for immediate payment, a third-party claim will enable them to pursue potentially much more in court. Workers’ compensation only solves immediate financial issues, but a personal injury attorney fights for full economic recovery.
Texas Workers' Comp FAQ
Are all industrial injuries covered by workers’ compensation?
In Texas, unlike every other state, employers are not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This means that not all industrial injuries will be covered by workers’ comp. They will only be covered if the employer carries workers’ compensation insurance, and even then the injury must be deemed work-related to qualify. Even if your injury is not covered, however, you should know that you have other avenues available to you. You could be entitled to money for your medical bills, lost earnings, and also pain and suffering through a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. No matter what, you should consider all of your options.
What type of workers’ comp benefits am I entitled to in Texas?
Injured workers in Texas may be entitled to benefits that cover their medical costs and a portion of their lost wages. Families of workers who lose their lives in work-related accidents may be entitled to money for burial and funeral costs and the loss of their loved one’s income. Additional compensation can be sought in civil court, and this is one of many reasons it may be beneficial to involve an experienced work injury lawyer. You should be compensated for every loss, injury, and expense, and that’s what a skilled lawyer can help accomplish.
Should I hire a lawyer to help with my workers’ compensation claim?
You are not required by law to hire a lawyer to file a workers’ compensation claim in Texas, but you should know that there is no guarantee that you’ll get fair benefits—even if your claim is truly valid. If you were seriously injured or are running into any problems trying to recover the benefits you deserve, you should talk to a lawyer. Workers’ comp insurance companies and employers are notorious for trying to limit claim payouts. A lawyer can help you avoid delays or an outright denial that would jeopardize your ability to get the treatment and support you deserve.
Am I Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?
Any employee who is injured while on the job should be entitled to workers’ compensation. There isn’t a waiting period for workers’ compensation to be applied to you because you should be covered the minute you start the job. By accepting the financial and medical compensations offered through this type of package, an employee agrees to forego their right to sue the employer for tort negligence.
Workers’ comp plans vary from company to company and state to state. In general, you will be compensated in some capacity for the money you might lose if you have to take time off work to recover from an injury. Typically, if you are unable to work for more than seven days, you are entitled to weekly benefits. Not all workers are considered employees though, such as freelancers and independent contractors. It would be best to check with your employer to see if you maintain the status of “employee” who could be covered by workers’ compensation.
Four areas of workers’ compensation benefits that Texas employees are eligible for include:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Lost income for family
Your workers’ compensation will also provide financial relief for medical bills and hospital expenditures. You will probably need to contact an attorney if you are concerned with a claim you are filing; in general, if you were hurt on the job, you are entitled to workers’ compensation.
About Social Security Disability
In case of an injury causing a disability, a worker can apply for Social Security Disability benefits. This can be done at the same time as you apply for workers' compensation. That's because Social Security Disability Insurance is a federally funded program, while workers' compensation may differ from state to state. Social security benefits can be paid out for the lifetime of the person, unlike workers' compensation packages that come with limited benefits.
To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, a worker:
- Must have a physical or mental impairment.
- Must be able to prove that the disability has lasted 12 months, or is expected to last for that long.
- Must be unable to work, or to earn more than $900 a month, as a result of the impairment.
Call (888) 493-1629 to Schedule a Free Case Review
Workers’ compensation alone is generally insufficient to compensate for injury victims. An experienced lawyer can find additional responsible third parties to add into your industrial accident lawsuit so that you can obtain the full amount of compensation you are due. Additionally, some companies are non-subscribers, meaning that they have purchased private insurance to cover workplace incidents instead of subscribing to state workers’ compensation. A non-subscribing employer or other responsible business owners can be sued directly for damages.
Top-rated workers' comp lawyers will know how much of a settlement your injuries deserve. They can help you fight for an amount appropriate to your medical and financial needs.
Personal injuries that occur on the job are difficult to overcome without the added stress of unresponsive insurance companies or businesses. It is your right as an employee to be dutifully compensated for any injuries you incur while on the job. If, for any reason, you are unable to obtain proper compensatory means, our firm can help. Workers’ compensation law and help filing claims are among the many ways we have helped our clients, and just as with every other personal injury matter we handle, we are dedicated to seeing your case through to the end and fighting for the best possible results.
Have you been injured on the job? Call Arnold & Itkin at (888) 493-1629 for a free case review.