Ideally, any employee who is injured during the course of his or her employment experiences a full recovery that allows him or her to return to the job. However, the reality is that many workers each year cannot return to their previous jobs, and instead have to rely on workers’ compensation because they will simply aggravate their injury or get re-injured by resuming their previous job.
Who Pays the Medical Bills? Do I Get Paid While I Recover?
Workers’ compensation is supposed to cover your medical costs, as well as cover wages for any days of work that you miss. However, in Texas, private employers can choose whether or not to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Thus, if you are injured on the job due to your employer’s negligence, and they do not have workers’ compensation, you may have to bring a lawsuit against the employer for damages in order to collect medical expenses and any lost wages due to your injury or illness.
Can I Use My Vacation Time to Recover?
If you are unable to work, you can use your sick, vacation, and/or any other days you have available to cover your time off while still receiving a paycheck.
Will I Get Fired?
While Texas is an “employment-at-will” state, under federal and state law, an employer cannot fire or otherwise retaliate against an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim in good faith.
If an employee is injured at work and then fired, presumably, the employer remains liable to cover that employee’s workers’ compensation benefits until he or she is reemployed (as long as the employer is not a non-subscriber, in which case they could face paying damages due to a lawsuit). The employer may also have to cover other benefits, such as Unemployment. Thus, it is arguably the duty of employers to instead provide their employees with time to recover from a work-related injury and return to their previous job, if they are able.
In addition, if an employer fires an injured employee, that employer could risk a lawsuit via the Americans with Disabilities Act if the employee can prove that he or she was fired due to their injury, which is now a disability. An employee could also argue that he or she has been discriminated against, or that his or her employment contract has been breached. Thus, an employer would be wise to avoid this kind of negative exposure and avoid workers who have had to take leave due to a work injury.
Speak With an Experienced Work Injury Attorney Serving Texas
If you are recovering from a work injury, you likely have many questions about your rights and any benefits available to help you and your family. Consulting with an experienced work injury attorney can help ensure that your rights are protected.
At Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., our work injury lawyers have years of experience investigating work injuries and advising our Texas clients of their rights. You have the 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.