Employers have a vested interest in keeping workers healthy and free from injury. In order to do this, not only should employers have procedures and protocols for protecting workers from getting injured in the first place, but also workers’ compensation coverage to ensure that anyone who is injured is taken care of. In fact, some employers have taken it upon themselves to provide their employees with free or low-cost medical services at or nearby their worksites. Ultimately, being transparent about workplace injuries benefits everyone.
While most states require employers to purchase insurance for the state workers’ compensation program (as well as other state-mandated programs, where applicable, such as disability, health insurance, etc.), Texas does not require this of employers. Workers’ compensation insurance typically insulates the employer from being liable with respect to certain workplace injuries, thus, if an employer elects to go without coverage, they could be liable for any damages due to injuries employees suffer on the job.
An employer is a “non-subscriber” if it goes without coverage, and is thus open to personal injury lawsuits from any incidents that occur at work. It is also important to note that certain defenses that are available in many personal injury lawsuits, such as contributory negligence or assumption of risk, are not available to non-subscribers in these types of work injury cases.
Notices and Waivers
When hired, workers must be notified whether their employer does or does not have coverage, and this notice must be posted along with other required workplace posters. The notice must also notify workers that they have five days to waive their right to workers’ compensation benefits and retain their right to sue the employer for a work-related injury.
If a worker waives his or her right to workers’ compensation, he or she also waives the right to receive benefits under the workers’ compensation law. In addition, workers’ compensation benefits are typically only available to employees (versus independent contractors); thus, it is vital that workers are also properly classified as employees.
It is Important for Employees to Follow an Employer’s Safety Procedures
Under the law, regardless of fault, an injury or illness is covered if it was sustained in the course of employment. However, there are also circumstances under which an injury or illness will not be covered, such as if it was sustained due to the employee’s:
- Willful criminal acts;
- Intoxication from drugs or alcohol;
- Voluntary participation in an off-duty recreational activity;
- A third party’s criminal act (if directed against the employee for personal reasons unrelated to work); or
- Acts of God.
In other words, if you are injured and you were involved in one of these activities, it could be difficult to obtain compensation to help with your medical expenses and any lost wages.
Consult an Experienced Work Injury Attorney Serving Texas
Where there are disputes as to whether the injury was due to normal activity during the course of employment or under one of the exemptions, consulting with an experienced work injury attorney can help ensure that your rights are protected and your claim is not unjustly denied or ignored.
At Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., our work injury lawyers will investigate every detail related to your injury. You have every right to bring a claim if you have been injured at work even if your employer does not have workers’ compensation. Contact us today for a free consultation to find out more.