In Texas, any employers who do not provide workers’ compensation insurance are known as non-subscribers. By electing not to carry workers’ compensation insurance, non-subscribers lose important legal protections, such as immunity from lawsuits brought by injured employees. If that injured employee proves in court that the employer was negligent, the employer could be subject to high damage awards. Conversely, when employers have workers’ compensation, state law limits their ability to be sued if an employee is injured; that employee receives medical and income benefits, but in turn, generally cannot sue.
The Texas Workers’ Compensation Act
Under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act, regardless of whether an employer is a subscriber or not, they must comply with reporting requirements. Specifically, they must submit specific forms to the Division of Workers’ Compensation each year and, if they have five or more employees, they must report each work-related fatality, occupational disease, and/or injury which results in more than one day of lost work time to the Division.
Additional Damages Available Against Non-Subscribers
If an employer is a non-subscriber, as previously mentioned, Texas law does not limit their liability for employees’ work-related injuries. Thus, if an employee is injured and files a lawsuit against the employer, and a jury or judge finds that the injury and any associated suffering was due to the employer’s negligence, that employer could be subject to punitive damages as well as any pain and suffering, which would not otherwise be available. The employer could also be subject to covering attorney’s fees.
In addition, defenses that would typically be available in other personal injury cases are not available to employers who elect not to have workers’ compensation coverage. These include defenses such as the employee’s negligence itself causing the injury, another employee’s negligence causing the injury, and/or the claim that the injured employee knew the risk of the activity and voluntarily accepted that risk.
There are No Real Substitutes
It is also important to note that while employers can elect to participate in other programs in place of workers’ compensation (such as accident insurance, disability policies, indemnification agreements, etc.), Texas law does not recognize these as viable alternatives that relieve an employer from potentially having a negligence suit brought against it for additional damages.
Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Serving Houston and Surrounding Areas
At Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P. C., we are here to help you with every step of your workers’ compensation issue. We investigate any and all unsafe working conditions, including any inadequate safety training and faulty equipment, that could have contributed to your injury. If your employer is a non-subscriber, we will assist you filing litigation against them.
If you have been injured and your employer is a non-subscriber, you must work with an experienced work injury/wrongful death lawyer in order to ensure that your rights are protected. Contact us today to find out how we can help.