Workers’ Compensation in Texas
Every day in the United States, over 8,000 workers suffer an on-the-job injury or illness and approximately 13 workers lose their lives in a workplace accident. Texas regularly leads the nation in the number of workplace injuries and fatalities, with an average of 228 injuries and 1.5 deaths per day in 2016.
When a worker suffers a serious injury on the job, they deserve compensation for the costs of that injury. The most immediate costs typically may include medical treatment (e.g. doctor visits, tests, procedures, medications) and lost income.
However, in many cases, expenses may go well beyond medical bills and lost wages. A workplace injury can leave a worker with a greatly reduced work capacity, which endangers their ability to generate income for months, years, or even a lifetime.
There are several factors at play in the high number of worker injuries and fatalities in Texas. Texas has experienced significant growth in recent years, which means there are more jobs and construction sites popping up across the State.
Uninsured and Non-Subscriber Workers
Texas is one of several states that has no statewide occupational safety inspection agency, and is the only state that does not require employers to provide workers’ compensation coverage. This leaves up to 470,000 people, many of whom are classified as independent contractors, at risk of having to cover their own expenses should any kind of on-the-job accident occur.
Under Texas law, another 1.4 million workers are covered under “non-subscription policies.” With this type of coverage, employers are able to set their own rules and provisions for workplace injuries. This means workers may have to meet requirements such as reporting an injury within 24 hours of the incident or that an employer must attend medical appointments with the injured employee in order to receive benefits.
Non-subscription policies are utilized by some of the nation’s largest companies, including Walmart, Home Depot, H-E-B, Kroger, FedEx, and Costco.
Common Types of Work Injuries
An on-the-job injury can occur in just about any work setting. Among the most frequent types of accidents causing injury or death include:
- Transportation-related or motor vehicle accidents
- Falls, slips, or trips
- Contact with objects or equipment
- Fire or explosion
- Repetitive stress injuries (such as carpal tunnel, wrist, or knee injuries)
- Heavy lifting-related injuries (most commonly associated with workplace back injuries)
- Exposure to dangerous toxins
Workers are guaranteed the right to a safe workplace. If someone is injured on the job, even if they aren’t covered by workers’ compensation, they have the right to pursue compensation for their injuries. A worker has several options at their disposal. If a worker believes they have been misclassified as a contractor, they can attempt to prove that they are, in fact, an employee.
For many workers, Texas is indeed a dangerous state. The good news is that there are legal options to explore in the wake of a serious on-the-job injury, whether there is workers’ compensation or your employer is a non-subscriber, or there is a potential claim against a third party.