Differences Between Workers' Comp Cases and Non-Subscriber Cases
If you've been injured while working on the job, the financial recovery you might receive for your injuries is determined by two different sets of laws. The applicable set of laws is determined by the type of insurance your employer elects to purchase, that is to say, your employer's choice of insurance coverage does not simply limit the amount that you can recover, it completely defines the rights you have or do not have.
Simply put, if your employer purchases workers' compensation coverage, then one set of laws will apply to your case, whereas if they elect not to subscribe to workers' comp coverage, then an entirely different set of laws apply. This article will explain how an employer's choice will affect the benefits that you are eligible to receive if you are injured, or lost a loved one, in a workplace accident.
Questions answered on this page:
- What is Workers' Compensation Insurance?
- How do non-subscribers workers' injury claims work?
- What are employee benefits in a non subscriber case vs. a workers' compensation case?
- What is the potential recovery in a non subscriber case vs. a workers' compensation case?
- If I was injured in a workplace accident, how can a lawyer help?
What is Workers' Compensation Insurance?
Before we delve too far into the discussion of benefits, let's first discuss the types of coverage that your employer may purchase, starting with workers' comp. Workers' compensation insurance is a type of insurance that your employer purchases in order to adequately pay for your costs in the event that you are injured while on the job. This form of insurance covers your medical bills in real time, and it will afford you a limited amount of coverage for lost wages and various other expenses you typically encounter when you are hurt while working.
When your employer purchases workers' compensation insurance they are attempting to help you by providing adequate financial assistance for your injuries, but they are also attempting to limit their liability. By opting into the state run workers' comp plan, your employer gets nearly complete immunity from a lawsuit in exchange for providing you with guaranteed (automatic in theory) but very limited benefits. Workers' compensation insurance was created when pro-business lobbyists and insurance companies got together and united their efforts so that they could push through a law which would protect businesses from work injury lawsuits while still providing some protection for employees.
Workers' Compensation Act of 1993
In 1993 the state of Texas revised the Workers' Compensation Act. The revised law now states that if the employer purchases workers' compensation insurance, the business will be shielded from lawsuits in almost all situations, with the exception of very extreme acts of gross negligence. This act basically provides broad protection for the employer while it allows you to receive some compensation for your injuries and resulting damages.
Non-Subscribers Workers' Injury Claims
On the opposite side of the coin from employers who subscribe to workers' comp coverage, a non-subscriber is simply an employer who chooses not to purchase workers' compensation insurance. This means that as an employee, you are not provided a streamlined method of seeking compensation for your injuries, but it also means that your employer is not protected from lawsuits. Or to put it another way, you can receive full compensation from your employer, but you will have to pursue them through court. For in-depth details on non-subscriber work injury cases, Click Here.
If you have been injured on the job and your employer is considered a non-subscriber, Grossman Law Offices can help you file a claim against the company and go through the traditional method of seeking compensation in court.
A Rundown of Employee Benefits in a Non Subscriber Case vs. Workers' Compensation
|Medical Bills and Expenses||The carrier theoretically provides full coverage of medical treatment irrespective of fault.||You can seek all of your medical expenses in your claim, but the total amount of your recovery is based on the strength of your case.|
|Lost Wages||You will receive 70% of your normal wages while you are unable to work, subject to a cap of approximately $860 per week, and these benefits do not go into effect until you have been out of work for at least one week (which means you get paid nothing for the first week).||You may sue the employer for 100% of your lost wages.|
|Diminished Earning Capacity||No direct benefit for diminished earning capacity, per se.||If your injury has affected your potential earning capacity you can sue for these damages.|
|Loss of Future Income||In the case of catastrophic injury, you may receive partial long-term wage benefits.||You may sue for the entirety of your loss of future income.|
|Pain & Suffering||These damages are not recoverable under workers' compensation.||You can sue for emotional damages and suffering you endured as a result of your injury, but it is up to the court to determine the total amount you should receive for these damages.|
|Punitive Damages||Only applicable in a fatality case.||Applicable in a fatality or injury cases. Our attorneys can help you seek these damages in cases of gross negligence.|
|Settlement or Resolution||There is no settlement, per se. If you are permanently disabled, the carrier may pay you a small payout at the end that is based on a formula of three week's pay for every 1% of permanent deficiency, as determined by the workers' comp physician.||Your settlement is theoretically unlimited in value, but is based on your actual damages plus punitive damages as substantiated by your attorney and established by illustrating your employer's negligence.|
Example of Potential Recovery for Workers' Compensation:
Imagine a scenario where a worker is burned while on the job as a result of his employer's negligence. He receives significant burns on 35% of his body and is still capable of performing some functions, but he is clearly scarred for life, literally, and metaphorically. Let's assume that this worker made $6,000 per month working in the oil field (a fairly common salary our clients make in the oil and gas field) and that he can no longer work a labor-intensive job but he can work in retail or something to that effect. The case progresses for one year before it is resolved. Under these circumstances, his workers' comp claim may look like this:
|Medical Expenses||$250,000 Paid by carrier|
|Lost wages||$33,600 (he normally would have made $72,000 in the same time period)|
|Loss of earning capacity, Pain and suffering, disfigurement, etc.||$42,000 Based on an impairment rating of 80%|
|Total Amount of Damages:||$292,000|
As you can see, in the above scenario this injured worker would have been paid significantly less wages than he was earning and he would get a very small payout at the end. The only real benefit to the employee is that the process is more or less streamlined, thereby avoiding litigation, and his employer's insurance carrier paid for the entirety of the past medical bills.
Example of Potential Recovery for Non-Subscriber:
Imagine the same scenario, only the employer is a non-subscriber to Texas workers' compensation coverage, which means that the employee can get full compensation for his injuries.
|Past Medical Expenses||$250,000|
|Future Medical Expenses||$150,000|
|Lost Wages ($6,000/month for 12 months)||$72,000|
|Lost Earning Potential (made $72,000+/year, now can only make $35,000/year X 10 years)||$370,000|
|Pain & Suffering||$150,000|
|Total Amount of Damages:||$1,192,000|
As you can see, workers' compensation coverage greatly benefits the employer since it limits the amount of money that they may be liable for in the event that an employee is injured. However, when an employee is injured and they work for a non-subscriber, they are theoretically entitled to significantly more compensation, but this compensation must be pursued through court, and is predicated upon proving that the employer negligently caused the employee's injury. Proving the negligence of the employer is a process that necessitates hiring an experienced work injury attorney.
The Attorneys at Grossman Law Offices Can Help if You've Been Injured in a Workplace Accident
If you have been injured while working on the job, we understand that this is probably a very difficult time for you and our attorneys want to help. Our experienced work accident attorneys can discuss the potential recovery for your case and better inform you about your rights as an employee. Whether your employer has workers'comp coverage or is a non-subscriber, if you were hurt on-the-job, call Grossman Law Offices, based in Dallas, TX, at (855) 326-0000 for a free consultation.
Related Articles for Further Reading:
- Texas Workers' Compensation Law
- Rights of Injured Workers
- Does Your Employer Have Workers' Comp Coverage?