Workplace accidents happen every day. Although many employees enjoy the benefit of workers’ compensation when they get hurt at work, they do not always realize that they could be entitled to further monetary damages.
Texas workers’ compensation law is designed to provide relief to employees who have been injured while on the job. Your Texas workers’ compensation benefits should cover all of your medical and rehabilitative costs.
What are Workers Compensation Laws in Texas?
Texas is the only state that allows private employers to choose if they will cover their employees under workers’ compensation insurance. If your employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance, they must notify you and must also file an annual notice with the state. Texas employers have two options for workers’ comp coverage: they may use a private insurance company or self-insurance if they qualify.
All public employers in Texas must provide workers’ compensation; these include government agencies; city, county, and state employers; and public universities. In addition, building and construction contractors for public employers must provide workers’ comp for their employees, as must transportation carriers who move throughout the state.
By law, workers may be eligible for compensation from four different kinds of benefits:
- Income benefits: From temporary to lifetime benefits, these are designed to replace some of the wages lost because of your injury.
- Medical benefits: These cover “reasonable and necessary medical care” for your injury.
- Burial benefits: Fatal injuries qualify for compensation to help cover the costs of funeral expenses.
- Death benefits: Families may qualify for death benefits when their loved one dies from a work-related injury.
Who Is Eligible for a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Being injured at work does not automatically qualify you to file a workers’ compensation claim. In order to be eligible for a claim, your injury or illness must directly result from the “course and scope” of employment. As an example, you might have a valid workers’ compensation claim for developing carpal tunnel syndrome from typing, or for receiving a back injury while working on a ladder.
Hazardous or toxic work environments are another example of potential workers’ compensation claims. For instance, cleanroom litigation has become a prominent part of our personal injury and workers’ compensation practice. Hazardous chemicals used in the production of these chips have resulted in a high number of birth defects of children of cleanroom workers. Our law firm resides in a major center for semiconductor computer chip manufacturing, and our Texas workers’ compensation lawyers have experience in pursuing these complex claims.
Even if you are considered at fault for your injury, your workers’ compensation claim may be covered. There are, however, some exceptions: just a few examples entail being engaged in a criminal act, intoxicated, or participating in an off-duty recreational activity. Additionally, certain farm and ranch workers, casual laborers, domestic workers, and any worker covered by a method of compensation established under federal law may be exempt from receiving Texas workers’ compensation benefits.
What is the Workers’ Compensation Process in Texas?
First and foremost, if you are injured on the job, you need to report your injury to your employer as soon as it occurs—even if you think someone else already has. You can lose your rights to workers’ compensation if you do not file within the 30-day deadline, so it’s extremely important to be prompt. You do not have to file paperwork to report your injury, but you should make sure to document the day you reported your injury and to whom.
Generally, a workers’ compensation appeal must be filed within 30 days of the injury, and you must submit any first appeal within 90 days of the decision. If your employer denies your workers’ claim, you can challenge the denial through the Department of Workers Compensation. If you cannot solve the dispute through negotiation with the DWC, you can request a workers’ comp court hearing.
You should also seek prompt medical care. You will likely need to seek your medical care from a list of state-approved doctors. Even if you do not think you are seriously hurt, you will need to be seen by a professional for both your own safety and for the documentation in your case. Some injuries take time to appear, and it always looks better that you took steps immediately to care for your health.
Sometimes, workers’ compensation claims are resolved quickly and to everyone’s benefit. Other times, the insurer will fall far short of what seems fair considering the extent of your injuries. The two most common types of disputes in workers’ compensation cases are medical disputes and indemnity disputes. A medical dispute occurs where a state-approved doctor denies care that you believe you need in order to improve, such as surgery, rehabilitation, or other forms of medical treatments. A claim dispute happens when you receive notice that your benefits have been denied, or that you are being provided with insufficient benefits. In these situations, an experienced attorney who is well-versed in workers’ compensation law can help bring an effective claim against the opposing parties.
Temporary workers’ compensation benefits can be collected in Texas for 104 weeks, with a possible extension if you have or will have spinal surgery within 12 weeks prior to the deadline. If your impairment income benefits run out under Texas workers’ compensation, then you may be able to receive supplemental income benefits, providing you meet a number of qualifications.
Regardless of whether you believe you were seriously injured, any time you are injured at work, you should immediately take steps to protect yourself — even if you are unsure whether you have a claim to Texas workers’ compensation benefits. A Texas workers’ compensation lawyer can educate you about your options and how to protect your rights as you move forward with your claim.
How Can Aaron Allison Help?
If you or someone you love has been injured in a workplace accident, our experienced Texas workers’ compensation attorneys can help. We know that injured workers often fight an uphill battle to receive the benefits they are entitled to receive by law. Contact the Law Offices of Aaron Allison at (512) 474-8346 or fill out our confidential contact form for a free initial consultation. We can help you obtain the money you need after a serious workplace accident.