Have you suffered an injury on the job? Contact an experienced Workers Compensation Lawyer
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.
When a worker suffers a serious injury on the job, they deserve compensation for the costs of that injury. The most immediate costs typically include medical treatment (including doctor visits, tests, procedures, medications, etc.) and lost income. However, in many cases, expenses 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.
Workers in some of the most dangerous industries are frequently denied benefits or given payments that fall far short of their needs. We are proud to stand up for our clients to get them maximum compensation for their workplace injuries. Let our legal professionals help you file a claim for workers’ compensation or damages from a nonsubscriber or negligent third party. Contact us 24 hours a day, seven days a week—call (800) 444-5000 or complete our initial consultation form today.
Getting Paid While Not Working
Most Texas employers carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover injured employees on the job and also protect themselves from lawsuits by injured workers. In Texas, an injured worker can receive monetary benefits (usually paid weekly) and medical benefits that pay the doctor bills. The weekly benefits are based on a percentage of the injured worker’s salary and help sustain them while they’re unable to work.
Types of Workers’ Comp Claims and Qualifications
According to Texas Workers’ Compensation law, there are four types of benefits:
- Medical – Pays all medical bills directly to the treating physician/clinic/hospital
- Income – Replaces a portion of an injured employee’s lost wages due to a work-related injury
- Death – Provides compensation to workers’ families due to work-related death or illness
- Burial – Reimburses the worker’s estate/family for a portion of their burial costs.
Types of Disability
We refer to the corresponding income benefits for each disability.
- Temporary Income Benefits (TIBs) cease when your doctor returns you back to full duty, or states you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) or, if neither happens, approximately two years after your injury.
- Supplemental Income Benefits (SIBs) are available to any injured worker with a whole body impairment rating of 15% or higher.
- Impairment Income Benefits (IIBs) are available if you have a permanent impairment from a work-related injury or illness.
- Lifetime Income Benefits (LIBs) apply to injuries so severe as to disable a worker for the rest of their life – 75% of an injured employee’s average weekly wage (AWW), with a 3% annual increase.
Workers’ comp insurers can (and often do) dispute worker salary benefits. So the longer you receive them – especially SIBs – the greater the odds you will be denied and have to appeal the ruling. If that happens, contact a seasoned workers’ comp benefits lawyer immediately.
How Workplace Accidents Happen
Workplace injuries can occur in any setting, but they are more likely in certain job types in certain types of accidents. Injuries frequently occur in the workplace due to:
- Transportation-related accidents (on-the-job motor vehicle accidents)
- Falls, slips, and trips
- 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.
Dangerous Jobs in Texas
No job is without its own set of dangers. However, worker injury and death rates tend to be higher when heavy equipment, manual labor, and frequent transportation are part of the job description. This includes:
- Truck drivers
- Construction workers (including roofers and structural iron/steel workers)
- Farming, fishing, and forestry workers
- Oil and gas extraction
Workers’ Compensation in Texas
Workers’ compensation insurance is a “no-fault” program. That means that a worker is entitled to benefits after a workplace injury regardless of who was at fault for the on-the-job accident. These benefits typically include payment for medical bills and roughly two-thirds of a worker’s weekly wages. In some cases, the payments offered through workers’ compensation insurance are inadequate to cover the true costs of a worker’s injuries.
Workers’ compensation benefits should provide compensation for expenses related to an on-the-job injury, such as:
- past and future lost wages
- past and future medical bills
- mental anguish
- pain and suffering
- and more.
You shouldn’t lose hope if your workers’ comp claim was denied. The Texas Department of Insurance’s Division of Workers’ Compensation allows workers to dispute claims decisions for another chance at getting benefits. Check out our Workers’ Compensation Appeals page to learn about what steps to take to dispute your claim and find out how Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law can help.
Your Responsibilities as an Injured Worker
- First, tell your employer immediately. Include how, where, and when the injury occurred and seek immediate medical treatment.
- You must then formally report your injury – in writing – to your employer within 30 days from the date of the injury (or the date you knew your injury or illness was related to your job).
- Finally, file your completed Employee’s Claim for Compensation for a Work-Related Injury or Occupational Disease (DWC Form-041) with the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation, as soon as possible within your one-year window of the date of injury.
Employer Responsibilities When You Are Injured
- Employers are strongly encouraged – but not legally required – to carry liability insurance coverage in the event an employee receives a work-related injury or illness. If they “opt-in,” they must notify their employees when hired and post notices of coverage in a prominent place within their firm.
- Employers must report any employee injuries or work-related illness within eight days of occurrence to the Texas Department of Insurance and provide a copy of that report to the injured worker.
- They must report any changes in an injured employee’s pay or employment status to their insurance carrier.
- Your employer is prohibited by law from treating you any differently after a work-related injury, nor unfairly disciplining you should you dispute any ruling by your employer’s insurance carrier about your benefits.
What If My Employer Doesn’t Have Workers’ Comp Coverage?
But around one-third of our state’s companies either go without any insurance completely or buy cheaper, “non-approved” benefit plans. Nevertheless, if your employer doesn’t carry an approved (by the Department of Insurance) policy, you can sue them for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc. And if your injury was caused by a co-worker at your non-subscribing employer’s company, you can sue both parties for damages.
If your employer or its workers’ comp insurer denies your claim, you can appeal. But you (or your attorney) must first try to resolve the matter with either party. Failing that, you must notify the Texas Department of Insurance’s Division of Workers’ Compensation.
First comes an informal meeting (mediation) with a Division of Workers’ Compensation Benefit Review Officer and a representative of your employer/insurer. If that fails, you either proceed to arbitration or go directly to a contested case hearing. If an arbitrator renders a decision, it is final and cannot be appealed.
A contested case hearing is presided over by a Division of Workers’ Compensation Hearing Officer. This is just like a trial, with evidence being submitted by all parties and a written decision rendered by the Presiding Hearing Officer.
If you disagree, you, your lawyer, and your employer/insurance rep can have another hearing, this time before the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel. And if you don’t like THAT decision, the next step is a formal trial in civil court.
This appeals process “door” swings both ways. So it’s easy for you or your employer to be dragged through a protracted workers’ comp appeals process.
Is Texas a Dangerous Place for Workers?
Workers sacrifice a lot for their jobs. They give their time and effort. They often travel long distances to get to work. Unfortunately, many also give their lives. On an average day, 13 workers die on the job in the United States.
Some industries – and some states – are more dangerous than others when it comes to workplace safety. Texas has long been known to have high rates of injury and death among workers, a fact that is especially true in sectors such as construction and oil and gas extraction.
Work Injury Statistics
In 2016, 545 Texans died from an on-the job injury.
Approximately 2.2 of every 100 in Texas private sector workers suffered non-fatal on-the-job injuries in 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) — noticeably less than the national private sector percentage of 2.9/100 in 2018.
When Workers’ Compensation Doesn’t Apply, You Still Have Options
Sometimes a worker discovers that they are not entitled to benefits, either because their employer doesn’t carry workers’ compensation insurance or because they are misclassified as independent contractors. In these cases, a worker can file a personal injury claim against their employer or a third-party to receive payment.
Texas is the only state in the nation that allows employers to opt out of workers’ compensation insurance and leave their employees without coverage. While this puts many workers at a disadvantage after a workplace injury, it opens that employer to legal action like personal injury claims. The important thing for workers to know is that there are always legal options available.
How We Can Help
At Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law, we want to help injured workers get the justice they deserve. We have decades of experience standing up to employers and insurers who deny workers their benefits, and we know how to get results for our clients.
If you or a loved one has suffered a workplace injury and you want to discuss your legal options, contact Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law to schedule a free consultation. Terry Bryant is a Board Certified attorney and a former judge. To schedule a free consultation with Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law, contact us today by filling out our online contact form or giving us a call at 1 (800) 444-5000 or locally in the Houston area at (713) 973-8888.
STATE WORKERS’ COMP LAWS AND INFORMATION SOURCES
- Texas Department of Insurance – Injured employee resources
- Texas Workers’ Compensation Act – And legislative amendments
Thank you very much for all your hard work and effort in obtaining the settlement on my behalf. It’s not often that I have met and worked with such a passionate, dedicated and focused team such as yourselves. Your attention is 100% customer and goal oriented, and many business professionals could learn from your excellent ‘can do’ attitude and effort. You are a great team and I am very appreciative of everything that you each did for me. On behalf of my family, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Gloria B. Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law.