Brian White | April 17, 2018 | Workers Comp
If you recently suffered a work-related injury, you may be able to file a claim that will compensate you for your medical bills, pay for your lost wages, and address other costs of your rehabilitation and recovery. However, your avenue for recourse will depend on whether your employer carries workers’ compensation coverage.
The Workers’ Compensation System
Many injured workers seek compensation for damages through Texas’ state-regulated workers’ compensation system. This system allows employers to purchase coverage that kicks in when an employee suffers an illness or injury throughout the course of his or her work duties. The specific benefits will depend on your employer and the state rules.
Texas is the only state in the nation that does not require employers to purchase workers’ compensation coverage. In other words, employers have the option of opting out of coverage. On the other hand, many employers do choose to purchase coverage through the Texas workers’ compensation system because it’s a no-fault system. In other words, your employer will provide you with benefits regardless of who is at fault for your occupational injury – and in exchange, you forfeit your right to sue your employer for negligence.
When Can I Sue for Negligence?
Under Texas law, an employer becomes a nonsubscriber when they opt out of workers’ compensation coverage. While employers are not required to carry this coverage for employees, they are still responsible for an employee’s injuries, especially when an employer’s negligence contributes to them.
You can file a traditional personal injury lawsuit following a work-related injury if the following apply:
- Your employer is a nonsubscriber. If your employer has workers’ compensation insurance, the state system will be your main avenue of recourse.
- Your employer owed you a duty of care. This is usually easy to establish, as federal law requires employers to provide employees with reasonably safe workplaces.
- Your employer breached its duty of care by committing negligence. There are several ways an employer can breach its duty of care, including failing to complete safety checks or properly maintain equipment.
- Your employer’s breach led to your injuries. To collect monetary damages from your employer, you must prove that your injuries were at least in part its fault.
- You suffered measurable harm as a result. Examples of damages in a nonsubscriber lawsuit include compensation for medical bills, lost wages, or even vocational training if your injury renders you unable to return to your previous profession.
What to Do Following a Work-Related Accident
Though nonsubscriber lawsuits follow a different process than workers’ compensation claims, they still require many of the same steps. Perform the following to protect your future claim:
- Report the incident to your employer as soon as possible. Ask your supervisor to file an accident report and review it carefully for accuracy and completion. This could help prevent disputes down the line, as your employer may try to deny the nature, circumstances, or even the presence of your occupational injury or illness.
- Hire a personal injury attorney to represent your rights. An experienced attorney can help you hold your negligent employer accountable for its actions and protect your right to fair compensation under Texas law.
- File an action within the appropriate period. Nonsubscriber lawsuits have a statute of limitations of two years. Failing to act within this time could lead to a claim dismissal.
Nonsubscriber lawsuits differ from workers’ compensation claims, but they have one essential thing in common: Both require the guidance of an experienced Texas workers non- subscriber attorney. If you recently suffered an occupational illness or injury and believe your employer’s negligence played a role, you may be able to file a personal injury claim in court.