Injured on the job and fear that your employer doesn't subscribe to workers' compensation coverage? Learn your options for bringing a Texas non-subscriber work injury claim.
If you've been injured on the job and your employer does not have workers' comp coverage, chances are you've heard the term "non-subscriber" being tossed around. What is it? Let's start with a simple definition. A "non-subscriber" is any employer who chooses not to subscribe to workers' compensation coverage. When your employer opts out of workers' comp coverage, you cannot file a workers' comp claim. Instead, your only option is to pursue a non-subscriber work injury claim.
In this article, we're going to thoroughly explain what a non-subscriber case is, how it's different from workers' comp, and what steps need to be taken so you get the maximum amount of compensation.
The Difference Between Non-Subscriber Cases and Workers' Compensation Cases
For most of Texas' history, work injury cases have been treated just like any other kind of personal injury case. Just like accidents that involved a negligent driver or negligent doctor, winning a work injury case was all about proving your work-related injury was caused by your employer's negligence. All work injury cases back then were decided in a court of law.
But in the 1990's, Texas legislators decided that they wanted to eliminate work injury lawsuits. They re-wrote Texas' work injury laws and created a type of alternative work injury benefit system that operated completely separate from the court. They called this new system "workers' compensation."
Here are some of the characteristics of Texas' workers' comp system:
- Think of it like a welfare or a social security system. Your employer pays money into the program and, later, you can file a claim for benefits, if you meet certain criteria. The workers' comp program is a system that's based entirely on eligibility. If you qualify for the benefit, you receive it - simple as that - just like a welfare system. In legal terms, we call that an "administrative process" because it's mostly paperwork.
- You're not filing a lawsuit. In fact, if your employer subscribes to workers' compensation coverage, then you actually don't have the right to file a lawsuit like you would in a normal accident case. The way the legislature sees it, they've given you a no-hassle benefit system in exchange for taking away your right to sue.
But not every employer in Texas wants to pay into this workers' compensation injury fund. About half of the employers in Texas choose not to "subscribe" to workers' comp coverage, so they're called "non-subscribers." When an employer is a non-subscriber because they chose not to participate in the workers' compensation system, their employees retain the right to sue them for work injuries.
That's what a non-subscriber case is: a normal, negligence-based personal injury lawsuit that happens to be about a work accident.
- A workers' comp case is based on a system of benefits wherein you file a claim for limited compensation
- A non-subscriber case is a lawsuit against your employer.
In a lawsuit, you can't just walk into a courtroom, claim you were hurt, and then walk out with money. No, you have to adhere to every single step of the lawsuit process, as well as adhere to the Rules of Evidence and Civil Procedure.