What is Workers Compensation?

safety-shoesWorker’s compensation is the coverage provided by employers to give to employees that are injured or sick due to their job or workplace. Worker’s compensation provides benefits such as medical treatment and wage replacement, and it covers medical expenses, ongoing care costs, and even funeral expenses if the injury results in an untimely death.

Common Types of Work Related Injuries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2004 there were over 4.2 million job-related injuries and illnesses and over 5,700 on the job fatalities. The most common causes of work-related fatalities include:

  • Highway incidents
  • Falls
  • Falling or moving objects
  • Overexertion
  • Accidents caused by machinery
  • Repetitive strain incidents i.e. carpal tunnel, bursitis

Common causes of non-fatal work-related injuries from the list above include falls and overexertion in lifting and moving objects. These kinds of injuries are just a few examples of what worker’s compensation can cover. 

Injuries Not Covered By Worker’s Compensation

Unfortunately, worker’s compensation doesn’t cover every kind of injury. The injuries that aren’t covered are:

  • Emotional injuries not induced by physical injuries
  • Intentional injuries
  • Injuries obtained by fights or intoxication

In addition, injuries aren’t covered if done outside the workplace, as stated by absent special circumstances. In other words, injuries that occur outside of work premises will not be covered under the worker’s compensation statute. However, there are some cases where if the injury happens outside the workplace, and it is work-related, you can get compensation. These special cases can occur if you travel on business, run a work-related errand or task, or attend a work-related function.

Who Pays for Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is typically provided by an employer to help an injured worker with his medical bills and lost wages. In Texas, however, worker’s compensation is elective, meaning businesses and employers have the right not to provide worker’s compensation. It’s important to seek an attorney if your workplace does not provide you with worker’s compensation. 

What if My Employer Doesn’t Cover Workers’ Compensation?

Some employers choose not to purchase workers’ compensation. In this situation, an injured worker has what is commonly referred to as a non-subscriber case. This means that the injured worker has a right to file a lawsuit against his or her employer (absent some type of binding arbitration agreement). The advantages to this type of case are that the injured worker will not be limited by the arbitrary caps established by the workers’ compensation system. The disadvantage is that the injured worker will have to wait until the lawsuit is resolved in order to receive compensation.

What Should I Do If I’m Hurt on the Job?

wheelchairIf you are hurt while at work or on the job, you should notify your employer of your injury as soon as possible. In most instances, you should put the report in some type of writing and you should maintain a copy of the report for your records. Each report should include the following:

  • Company information such as location, policy number, etc.
  • Information regarding injured employee such as name, birthdate, address, phone number, etc.
  • Details of the incident such as date of incident, type of injury, cause of injury, estimated number of days the employee will lose, etc.

How Do I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

To file a worker’s compensation claim, it is important for you to take the necessary steps. After recording the proper documentation for the claim, you must:

  1. Report your injury to your employer within 30 days from the date of the job-related injury or illness. 
  2. Send a completed claim form (DWC Form-041) to the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation (TDI-DWC) within one (1) year from the date you were injured. 

The Office of Injured Employee Counsel (OIEC) can help with the initial claim process or if you’re filing a dispute about your claim. 

It is against the law for an employer to retaliate against you for filing a claim. You have the right to hire an attorney to help you at any stage of the workers’ compensation process.

What Do I Do if My Injury Was Caused by a Third-Party?

Workers’ compensation is often inadequate and does not provide the injured worker with enough benefits to fully compensate for the loss. However, in many situations, the injured worker’s injury may have been caused by a third-party. In these situations, the injured worker can pursue both a workers’ compensation claim and a lawsuit against the careless third-party (so long as the third-party is not the employer). Third-party claims allow the injured work to pursue his or her claims without the arbitrary caps set by the workers’ compensation system.

Can I Sue My Employer for a Work-Related Injury?

To put it simply, no. Because you’re limited to benefits provided by worker’s compensation, you cannot sue for additional damages such as pain and suffering. However, some states allow you to sue under limited circumstances – when your employer intentionally hurts you or if you didn’t have legally required worker’s compensation insurance.

Should I Be Treated by a Doctor Provided by My Employer?

In the state of Texas, those who suffer from a worker’s compensation case have the right to see their own doctor unless the Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission states otherwise. It is typical, though, for an injured worker to be treated by a medical provider the employer assigns. When this happens, be careful – these providers may have a conflict of interest. It can lead to minimizing the seriousness of an injury or identify it as a preexisting condition. When this happens, it’s important to contact an aggressive workers’ compensation lawyer.

Have You Been Injured on the Job? – Speak With Our Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Today

If you or a loved one has been injured in a workplace accident, you should consult one of our experienced and aggressive workplace accident attorneys. Since 2007, Sutliff & Stout Injury & Accident Firm has secured over millions in dollars in compensation with our clients, and have received awards from Super Lawyers and Million Dollar Advocates. 

The attorneys of Sutliff & Stout, PLLC are happy to speak with you free of charge to discuss your concerns and situation involving worker’s compensation. Please text or call (281) 853-8446 and someone from our firm will be in touch with you to set up a free and confidential case evaluation.