An injury in the workplace can change your life. It can limit your abilities temporarily or permanently, forcing you to seek work elsewhere or file for disability. It can result in lifelong medical costs, such as live-in care, rehabilitation therapy, and special medical equipment. A traumatic injury such as brain damage or a spinal cord injury can even end in wrongful death. As an injured worker or a loved one, it is within your rights to seek justice through every outlet of the law – workers’ compensation and the civil court system.
The legal team at Brian White & Associates has years of experience in workers’ compensation law in Texas. We know when our clients should pursue workers’ compensation and when they should file for a personal injury claim instead. We may be able to help you receive maximum compensation for your injuries through multiple means. Our team can take over communication with insurance companies and bill collectors on your behalf, so you can focus on healing after a traumatic workplace accident. Contact us to schedule your free consultation.
Workers’ Compensation Laws in Texas That You Need to Know
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, about 2.9 million injuries and illnesses occurred at the workplace in 2015 in the US. This does not include fatal injuries. Workers can sustain injuries in all manner of ways during job-related tasks, from slips and falls to vehicle accidents. Common job-related injuries include falls, struck-by objects, and repetitive motion injuries.
Texas’ workers’ compensation program gives injured workers a means of financial recovery for a portion of lost wages, medical bills, and disability after a work-related accident, without needing to prove fault. Workers’ comp may seem like the simplest solution to your injury at the workplace, but it might not be the best or only choice.
It is important to consider all your options after an injury at work. When you file for workers’ comp, you immediately surrender your right to file a personal injury claim against your employer. This might not be the best choice for workers injured by someone else’s negligence. A personal injury claim might take more time, money, and effort than filing for workers’ comp, but it can typically result in larger compensation awards.
A lawsuit can pay for everything workers’ comp covers, as well as full wage recovery, pain and suffering, lost quality of life, and other intangible losses. If an attorney thinks you have a chance of winning, it might be worthwhile to file a personal injury instead of a workers’ comp claim.
There are situations where you could file for workers’ comp and a personal injury lawsuit. If a third party caused or contributed to your injuries, you can file a claim against this party at the same time as a workers’ comp claim. This is because the law does not bar workers from pursuing recovery from third parties. A third party might be a product manufacturer, coworker, or independent contractor. Third party claims are common in work injury lawsuits. The competent team at Brian White & Associates can help you with this type of case in Houston.
For information on Texas Workers Comp Nonsubscriber Laws, Check: What Is a Texas Worker’s Comp Non-Subscriber and How Does It Work?
What Are Texas Non-Subscriber Cases?
There are special and very favorable laws that cover employees injured while working for an employer that is not a subscriber to the Texas Workers’ Compensation System. The State of Texas strongly encourages Texas employers to subscribe to the Texas Workers’ Compensation System and provide employees with Workers’ Compensation Insurance.
If an employer is a subscriber and its employees are injured on the job, the employee’s sole remedy is through the workers’ compensation system and the employee is barred from filing suit against the employer.
However, if the employer decided not to subscribe to the Texas Workers’ Compensation system and are a “nonsubscriber”, Texas law removes the bar to the employee being able to sue the employer, and also removes several legal defenses, which makes the cases against the employer both easier to win and worth more money.
The Houston personal injury lawyers at Attorney Brian White and Associates are dedicated to fighting for the rights of workers throughout Houston and the Gulf Coast.
How Do I Know Whether or Not My Employer is a Non-Subscriber?
The first issue is determining whether the employer is a subscriber. Many employers who are nonsubscribers misleadingly refer to their private insurance as “workers comp.” Many companies decide to purchase low cost private “workers comp” insurance, rather purchase the more expensive official coverage through the Texas Workers’ Compensation System.
However, even though they bought the private workers’ comp insurance, they are considered to be nonsubscribers, and their employees are entitled to pursue them in court for damages, and they have little defense against those cases.
Our Houston workers comp lawyers talk to potential clients on a regular basis who believe that their employer has workers compensation coverage, only to determine after our investigation that the employer does not, in fact, have the official workers compensation coverage, and the employee has a lot more legal rights than the employer is letting them know.
What if My Employer is Not a Subscriber to Texas Workers’ Compensation?
If an employer is a nonsubscriber, certain steps need to be taken proactively in order to secure the maximum recovery for the client. First, the employee should file suit against the employer in order to trigger the favorable laws. Attempts to settle the case with the employer without filing suit are rarely successful, and many times negatively prejudice in later attempts to settle the case after a lawsuit is filed.
Additionally, efforts must be made to discover the full extent of the employee’s injuries, as well as any permanent restrictions and future medical expenses. After discovering that information and developing evidence of the same, the damages need to be quantified in dollar amounts. Many times, those dollar amounts involve future expenses that must further be expressed in terms of present value.
Accurate quantification of damages is necessary because upon obtaining a cash settlement, any further employee provided benefit plan will be extinguished. So, since this is your only time to get compensated, you must get it right – which is why you should have a qualified Houston workers’ compensation attorney on your side.
Filing a Houston Workers’ Compensation Lawsuit
In order to successfully file suit against a nonsubscriber employer, an employee must show at least some evidence of negligence on the part of the employer. Experienced workers’ comp lawyers are able to analyze the fact pattern in each case and discover if any liability exists.
Liability against an employer can occur when there are common sense scenarios where anyone can easily determine that a co-worker did something wrong, to other scenarios, such as lack of proper employee training or inadequate safety procedures. If an employee is unlucky enough to sustain an injury while working for a nonsubscriber and there is no liability at all on the employer, the employee may be out of luck and unable to sure the employer.
After a determination that the nonsubscriber is at least 1% at fault is made, an employee may pursue a lawsuit against the employer. Filing suit generally takes the matter out of the hands of the company claims personnel, or worse, insurance adjusters, and places it in the hands of a defense lawyer who better understands that the law is not in favor of the nonsubscriber client. Nonsubscriber defendants are barred from the following defenses:
- Contributory negligence;
- Assumption of the risk; and
- Negligence of a co-worker.
The loss of those powerful defenses by the defense creates a very favorable situation for the injured worker. If your injury occurred due to a defect in the premises, as opposed to the negligence of a co-worker or employer, it is currently necessary to show that the employee themselves is not more than 50% at fault.
If you have been injured while working for a nonsubscriber, or if you want verification that your employer is actually a subscriber to the official Texas Workers Compensation System, contact our Houston workers’ compensation attorneys.
We Work Hard to Achieve Exceptional Results for You
At Brian White & Associates, we take special care to work with injured workers. We understand that your income has been affected. We are determined to see that you receive the best medical care available for your injury and the highest financial compensation under the law. We will also aggressively investigate the circumstances surrounding your injury. If you were hurt as the result of negligence on the part of your employer or a third party contracted by your employer, we will advise you of your rights to collect damages.
Common Injuries in the Workplace In Houston
If you have been hurt in the workplace or on the road during the course of performing your job we can help you recover compensation for injuries such as:
- Head trauma
- Nerve injury
- Neck injury
- Repetitive stress injury
- Hearing loss
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Loss of limb or finger
- Occupational disease
What Industries Produce Most Work Illnesses and Injuries?
According to 2017 data from the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the private industry with the most occupational illnesses and injuries are nonconstruction-related laborers. They saw 64,410 injuries and illnesses in 2017. They are followed by the truck driving industry, who saw 47,860 injuries and illnesses.
Houston Workers Comp Lawyer Brian White
Call for a free consultation today. We never charge a fee until we win your case. The longer you wait to speak to an experienced workers compensation attorney, the more difficult your case becomes to complete successfully. Workers’ compensation has strict time limits under the law to file your claim. Don’t compromise your rights to recover the compensation you need and deserve by waiting to act. We will listen to your concerns, answer your question, and fight for your rights to recover full and fair compensation.