A friend of mine from Austin called with a work injury question: his sister worked for a non-subscriber and had recently received several cuts to her hand while on the job. Fortunately, the cuts weren't especially serious---no tendons or bones were affected. Initially, the woman's employer thought they had workers' comp insurance, but it turned out the company had dropped the coverage last year. His question could be categorized as follows:
- Can I file a non-subscriber lawsuit for minor injuries?
- What does the law consider a "minor injury"?
- Is it worth hiring a lawyer if I don't have serious damage?
Sometimes, workers' comp is better than the non-subscriber system.
Workers' comp, for all its flaws, does provide an easy-to-use system for getting minor injuries taken care of. Generally, under the workers' comp system, if you get hurt on the job, the employer has to send you to a doctor for treatment. The employer's insurance carrier has to pay the bills, and the burden is on the workers' comp provider to deny your claim. The only real defenses they have against sending you to the doctor and paying for continuing treatment would be your having gotten hurt on purpose, being intoxicated, or being engaged in horseplay at the time of the injury.
Things aren't quite as simple if your employer is a non-subscriber. In that situation, you have to file a lawsuit with the help of an attorney, and then prove in court that your on-the-job injuries were directly connected to a mistake made by your boss or a coworker. This, as you can tell, isn't automatic in the least.
Your attorney might be able to settle your claim without invoking the court process. Remember, he's not dealing with your employer, so much as your employer's insurance company. The people who manage claims for them---called adjusters---never like it when attorneys get involved because they know they've got a fight on their hands. This is where, even in minor cases, an attorney might be able to help you. We've been able to bring about good settlements quickly, if only because the insurance company senses that it's going to have to spend money on lawyers of their own to fight the claim that might turn out to cost them more than just paying it.
You might have more than a minor injury.
After a workplace accident, many victims don't actually feel that bad. They might be a touch sore, feel a little woozy, or just be in a bit of pain. But the real injuries might not rear their head for days or even weeks. We've seen individuals with brain injuries function relatively fine for a period of time before the full extent of their injury became clear through more serious symptoms. That's why it's vital for you to see a medical professional to be fully evaluated for any and all potential injuries. We're lawyers, not doctors, and can't diagnose what's going on ourselves, but we've seen enough seemingly minor injuries later turn out to be much more serious than initially thought.
A word of advice: rely on actual doctors, not friends or medical websites to diagnose your medical condition. That's a recipe for unnecessarily freaking yourself out or, even worse, ignoring symptoms of real problems.
You want to talk to a non-subscriber lawyer regardless.
We know you've got concerns about how best to handle your injury. That's why we're here. We talk to countless people every week over the phone who've been injured in accidents big and small. Call us today at 1-855-326-0000 for a completely free and confidential discussion. You'll never be charged until we've determined whether we can help, and if we can't, we're happy to tell you why and point you in the right direction.