Personal injury Library

What Are My Rights if I’m Injured in a Texas Work Accident?

If you're injured in a work accident in Texas, meaning you are hurt on the clock and during the performance of your normal and expected duties, you have certain rights designed to protect you and ensure you receive appropriate compensation and support. So what are those rights?

Answer: If your employer opts into the Texas workers' compensation system, then you have the right to receive workers' comp benefits, but if your employer opts out of the workers' compensation system then you have the right to sue your employer.

Your Rights Depend on Whether Your Employer Opts into or out of the Workers' Compensation System

Texas is unique in the U.S. in that employers here aren't required to participate in our state's workers' compensation system. Put another way, every business in every other state in the Union must participate in their state's workers' comp program. They pay money into an insurance fund, and if one of their workers gets hurt on the job said worker files a claim with the state's workers' compensation board and receives benefit payments from the fund. The process is fairly similar to the way unemployment insurance works.

In Texas, however, a company's participation in the workers' compensation system is optional. As such, all companies in Texas can be categorized as either subscribers (those that opt into the workers' compensation system) or non-subscribers (those that opt out of the workers' compensation system).

What Are My Rights if My Employer is a Subscriber to Workers' Compensation?

If your employer participates in the workers' compensation program, then you have the right to potentially receive four kinds of benefits as an injured worker:

  1. Medical Benefits - Your employer is required to pay for your emergency care, and in theory pays for follow-up treatment as well. In the majority of work injury cases where someone hires a lawyer, it's because their employer refuses to pay for medical care.
  2. Temporary Income Benefits - Once you've been out of work for more than 7 days, you begin to receive compensation designed to replace a portion of the wages you miss out on due to your injury. These benefits pay 70% of your lost wages, subject to a cap.
  3. Impairment Income Benefits - Once you've reached the end of the line on the medical treatment phase of a workers' comp case, your treating physician will issue an impairment rating. This is expressed as a percentage (e.g., "worker Tim Garza is 15% impaired"). For every percentage point of impairment, you receive three weeks of temporary income benefits.
  4. Supplemental Income Benefits - If you are unable to return to your former job, eventually they will terminate your employment. If you then take a lower-paying job, supplemental income benefits will pay a small portion of the difference between what you used to earn and what you earn in your next job.

Furthermore, under Texas law if your employer retaliates against you for making a workers' comp claim then you have the right to sue them for that. Aside from that, however, the rights conferred upon you by workers' compensation are your only rights in the event of a work injury at a subscribing company. In those cases you would be prohibited from pursuing a personal injury or wrongful death claim.

What are My Rights if My Employer is a Non-Subscriber?

If your employer does not participate in the workers' comp program then you retain the right to sue them, much as you would sue someone in any other personal injury case. Generally the compensation an injured worker can receive from one of these cases is significantly greater than the benefits they receive from workers' comp.

The downside to this approach is that you do not receive any automatic benefits, and instead will likely need to hire a lawyer to pursue a claim. The other major drawback is that your employer can fire you for getting injured, and you have little recourse against them for doing so.

Grossman Law Can Help

The takeaway from all this is that if you are injured in a Texas work accident, you generally have the right to at least some compensation. In many cases workers' comp may be your only avenue to get it, but those employed by non-subscribers instead may seek compensation via a lawsuit.

Having said that, lawsuits are rarely simple to resolve and companies facing one will usually defend themselves aggressively—even against a current or former employee. Consulting with an attorney who is experienced in workplace injuries can help you understand your rights and navigate the legal process to ensure you receive the compensation and support you deserve.

The Texas attorneys at Grossman Law Offices have decades of experience helping all kinds of accident victims, including workers injured on the job. If you were hurt or lost a loved one in a Texas workplace accident, the lawyers at Grossman Law will gladly discuss your situation with you at no cost. Call any time for a free and confidential consultation.

Prev Post