It’s an important question that many Texas workers are forced to grapple with: What happens if an employer does not have workers’ comp?
Unfortunately for workers, when an employer does not have workers’ comp, employees are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, this doesn’t mean that a worker is without options for other forms of compensation.
Workers’ compensation is an insurance program that was originally intended to make sure a worker won’t become destitute after being hurt on the job. Each state has its own laws concerning workers’ compensation, and Texas has a reputation for having the most business-friendly workers’ compensation laws in the nation. This also means that Texas law is less friendly toward injured workers.
Though businesses in Texas aren’t obligated to carry workers’ compensation insurance, they pay a price in liability for forgoing participation in this program. Before we look more closely at a worker’s options if their employer doesn’t carry work comp insurance, let’s take a brief look at Texas law.
Workers’ Compensation Law in Texas – Understanding Non-Subscribers
Texas is the only state in the U.S. that allows employers to opt out of state-managed workers’ compensation programs. Employers that do not participate in the program are considered “non-subscribers.” This means that their employees are not guaranteed the same protections when injured on the job.
Workers’ compensation insurance offers employees certain guarantees, such as no-fault coverage from the first day on the job. Benefits should be given to workers regardless of who was responsible for the injury. Employees are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits from the moment they start working.
Workers’ compensation insurance programs aren’t just intended to benefit workers. Employees are, in turn, protected in the amount of liability they face for a worker’s injury. So, when an employer opts out of the Texas workers’ compensation system, they are more vulnerable to legal action from the employee.
Though some employers purchase accident, disability and health insurance policies for employees or find other methods to serve as an alternative to workers’ compensation, Texas law is very clear that these methods are not considered a substitute for workers’ comp. These policies have limits that typically make them less comprehensive for workers, while also failing to limit an employer’s liability in the event of a workplace injury.
Taking Legal Action Against a Non-Subscribing Employer
According to Texas law, an injured employee can take legal action against a non-subscribing employer to seek compensation for the damages they’ve suffered. If the injured worker can prove that the employer’s negligence was responsible for the injury, they could be eligible for high damage awards.
An injured worker whose employer is a non-subscriber can seek compensation for damages including…
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Legal expenses.
A non-subscribing employer could also be vulnerable to other types of damages, such as punitive damages, which are essentially penalties for blatant negligence. Whenever an employee is injured at work, they should always meet with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to consider whether filing a legal claim might be in their best interest.
Can a Company Not Have Workers’ Comp?
A company can opt out of the Texas workers’ compensation program, but it opens itself up to liability in ways that subscribers don’t. If you’re wondering what happens if an employer does not have workers’ comp, then you might be working for a non-subscriber, in which case you might be entitled to high damage payouts after filing an injury claim.
You might also have other legal options available. For example, some injured workers choose to file third-party liability claims to get the compensation they are entitled to. In third-party liability claims, injured employees file legal claims against non-employers whose negligence contributed to their injuries. These claims can be filed against negligent manufacturers, property owners or drivers.
Regardless of Workers’ Compensation, Employers Have Obligations to Workers
Just because an employer opts out of the Texas workers’ compensation program, this does not mean that they are free from certain responsibilities. For example, employers are required to tell employees that they aren’t covered by workers’ compensation insurance. They are also required to report that they elected not to participate in the Texas workers’ comp insurance system. They must do this by submitting a form to the Division of Workers’ Compensation each year.
All employers must provide a safe work environment for their employees. This includes providing adequate training and safe equipment. When employers fail to live up to these obligations, they should be held accountable. If they’ve opted out of workers’ compensation programs, then they are particularly vulnerable to legal action.
It’s vital that workers always remember their rights. Whether or not their employer subscribes to workers’ compensation insurance programs has no impact on their rights to a safe work environment.
If You’ve Suffered a Workplace Injury, Contact Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law
A Texas workers’ compensation lawyer knows better than anyone what happens if an employer does not subscribe to workers’ comp. At Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law, we have years of experience holding negligent employers accountable for the harm they’ve caused their workers.
Terry Bryant is a Board Certified personal injury attorney and former judge in Texas. He and his handpicked team know the law, and we will be happy to review your case to determine the best path forward.
We understand how devastating an on-the-job injury can be. You likely face serious injuries at a time when you are no longer able to work. Discovering that you aren’t covered by workers’ compensation insurance might feel like insult has been added to your injury. However, you should understand that you have several options available to receive compensation for your injuries.
If you’d like to explore your options, we encourage you to contact our team today to schedule a free consultation. Let us hear your story, so we can help you find the best path forward. Contact Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law by calling (713) 973-8888 or filling out our online contact form.