Contained within the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act, Title 5, Subtitle A, Labor Code, the Texas workers compensation insurance program is a state-regulated program that provides covered employees with medical and income benefits in the event that they sustain a work-related illness or injury. This means that, in addition to medical expenses, workers compensation can also replace a portion of an injured employee’s lost income, pay the burial expenses for employees who were killed on the job, as well as pay death benefits to the eligible dependents of such employees.
A skilled workers compensation attorney can help an injured worker determine what benefits they are eligible for.
To qualify for workers compensation insurance, an employer must have at least one full-time or part-time employee. However, private employers in Texas who fall above a predetermined size may choose not to participate in the workers compensation insurance program. With that in mind, here is some more information about this topic.
Ways of Providing Workers Compensation
To participate in the workers compensation program, employers in Texas can either insure their employees with a third-party licensed insurance firm or self-insure their workers. For the latter option, employers would need to be certified by the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC), as well as meet the requirements established by DWC.
Alternatively, employers can join a self-insurance group that’s licensed by the DWC. It is worth noting that political subdivisions may buy insurance from insurance companies, join with other political groups that self-insure, or simply self-insure on their own.
Additionally, political groups and emergency service organizations can cover volunteers, such as volunteer emergency medical personnel and volunteer firefighters, with a policy endorsement.
Texas Workers Compensation Laws: Coverage Exemptions
It is important to note that workers compensation in Texas has certain coverage exemptions. These exemptions include injuries resulting from willful criminal acts, acts of God, voluntary participation in an off-duty hobby, intoxication from alcohol and drugs, a third party’s criminal act directed against a worker for a personal matter unrelated to work, as well as self-inflicted injuries.
You Can Get Both Workers Compensation and Personal Injury Benefits
Although the workers compensation insurance program aims to protect employers from personal injury lawsuits and provide fair compensation for injured workers in a timely manner, you can still sue your employer or a third party for damages, particularly if the third party is not your employer.
For instance, if your injury was caused by a defective automobile, tool, product, or machine, you can file a lawsuits for those claims as well. To improve your chances of winning in court, you should hire an experienced personal injury attorney in San Antonio, Texas.
This means that if you suffer an on-the-job injury, you can get both workers compensation and personal injury benefits. However, before you can do this, your dispute has to go through the DWC dispute resolution process.
Texas Workers Compensation Laws: Nonsubscribers
It is worth noting that, unlike in other states, private employers can choose not to provide workers compensation for their employees. In other words, they can choose to non-subscribe to the workers compensation program. Employers who choose not to participate in the workers compensation insurance program are called nonsubscribers. According to the DWC’s 2016 Biennial Report to the 85th Legislature, nonsubscribers accounted for about 22 percent of all private employers in 2016, representing a 10 percent decrease from the previous year.
The law requires all nonsubscribers to file a notice with the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) every year, post notices in their workplaces and personnel offices, and inform each of their new employees in writing that they do not have workers compensation insurance.
Still, nonsubscribers are particularly vulnerable to personal injury lawsuits from employees who suffer a work-related illness or injury. Personal injury lawsuits could easily cause an employer to spend a lot of money on attorney’s fees and damages. Even worse, when sued in court over on-the-job injuries and illnesses, nonsubscribers cannot base their defense on the negligence or ignorance of a plaintiff or a third party. Simply put, their defense options are greatly reduced, meaning that the plaintiff often has an advantage in court.
Texas State Employees and the Workers Compensation Program
State employees in Texas joined the workers compensation program in 1973. Today, under Chapter 501 of the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act, the State of Texas is self-insuring in regards to workers compensation. However, state employees can opt out of the program if they wish. An employee who opts out of the program can sue the state if they suffer an on-the-job injury or illness.
Texas is the only state in America that does not require private employers to have workers compensation insurance. However, according to data from the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC), the number of nonsubscribers has been falling gradually over the years.
If you have been injured at work and need to file either a work comp or a personal injury claim, an experienced attorney, such as those found at J.A. Davis & Associates, LLP, can help you get the best resolution possible.