You’ve probably heard of workers’ compensation before, or, more commonly referred to as “workers’ comp.” It’s a type of business insurance that promises wage replacement and medical benefits for workers who have been injured on the job, as well as burial and death benefits for families of workers who have been killed.
For many workers around the U.S., a workplace accident may be answered with a workers’ compensation claim. But here in the Lone Star State, things are a little different. Texas doesn’t require employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Here, employers are allowed to purchase cheaper, alternative healthcare plans or skip out on insurance altogether.
Employers who opt-in to the state’s workers’ compensation program are called “subscribers.” And those who go without worker’s compensation, and who choose to prioritize their bottom line instead of workers’ benefits, are called “non-subscribers.”
Thanks to our state’s unique laws, determining who and how an at-fault party will cover your losses after an on-the-job injury isn’t so simple. Your avenue toward compensation will vary on a number of factors including:
- Whether or not your employer subscribes to workers’ compensation;
- If a third party had a role in your accident; and
- the circumstances surrounding your injury.
In this article, our Carrollton work injury lawyers will explain the legal options you might have after you’ve been injured on the job.
Employers Who Subscribe to Workers’ Compensation Are Protected From Lawsuits
In Texas, employers who opt into the state’s workers’ compensation system are known as “subscribers.” Generally speaking, you can’t sue an employer who subscribes to the state’s workers’ compensation system.
Why is that? Well, it’s helpful to think of workers’ compensation as a bargain of sorts between employers and workers. Under this system, you’re taken care of in the event you get hurt at work, and in exchange, you waive the right to sue your employer for negligence by agreeing to accept these benefits.
There is one major exception to the rule forbidding lawsuits against subscribers: asbestos exposure. If you were exposed to asbestos during the course of your employment and suffer from asbestos-related health issues, a Carrollton work injury attorney can help you hold a negligent employer or third party responsible.
Non-Subscribers Can Be Sued For Workplace Injuries
Everything’s bigger in Texas, including our business-friendly policies. As we mentioned earlier, Texas is the only U.S. state that does not require employers to subscribe to the state’s workers’ comp system.
Employers who choose not to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage are referred to as “non-subscribers.” While these employers may save a pretty penny on insurance premiums, they open themselves up to an avenue of personal injury lawsuits from employees that are hurt on the job.
Some employers may go completely “bare,” meaning they can purchase absolutely no insurance at all, roll the dice, and hope nothing bad happens to their employees. Other employers might buy cheaper alternative insurance policies that offer limited benefits to injured employees. Even if your employer does have an alternative coverage plan in place, they are considered a non-subscriber under Texas law, and employees have the right to sue the employer for losses related to an on-the-job injury.
And that’s not the only legal risk these employers are gambling with by opting out of workers’ comp. In addition, the law forbids employers from using certain defenses that would otherwise be allowed in injury cases, such as assumption of risk, contributory negligence, and co-worker negligence.
What this means is that even if you knew a job was inherently dangerous, you were partially responsible for your accident, or a coworker caused your injury, a non-subscriber employer is forbidden from using these arguments against you. In other words, the employer is still liable for your injuries and responsible for covering your losses.
How Do I Know If My Employer Is a Subscriber Or Non-Subscriber?
While the majority of workers are covered by workers’ compensation benefits, there are thousands of employees left with little recourse if they get injured and find themselves unable to work. A recent analysis of state survey data from the Texas Tribune shows that more than 500,000 workers receive no occupational benefits if they are injured on the job.
You might assume small companies who need to minimize costs wherever possible are the only companies willing to cut corners on workers’ comp insurance. However, some of the largest companies with offices and stores here in Dallas/Fort Worth are skimping on workers’ comp insurance, including Wal-Mart, Costco, H-E-B, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Christus Health, AutoZone, James Avery Craftsman and Tractor Supply.
If you’re not sure if your employer is a subscriber or a non-subscriber, then you can ask them or check their insurance status using the state’s online database. If they aren’t being cooperative after a workplace accident or you suspect they don’t have insurance, then you can seek the help of a Carrollton work injury attorney to help you understand your best routes toward compensation.
You May Be Able to Sue Third Parties Too
Sometimes when an employee is injured on the job, the fault may lie with a third party. Maybe a subcontractor, a faulty piece of equipment, a negligent driver, or another entity outside of your company played a role in your workplace injury. Depending on the circumstances, one or more third parties could be held liable for your losses. These can include:
- A driver who hits you while you’re on the job;
- The owner of the property where your workplace is located or where work is being performed;
- A contractor or subcontractor whose negligence caused your injury; or
- The manufacturer of a defective piece of equipment or device
In the aftermath of a workplace accident, it can be difficult to know what or who caused your injuries, and how many people may be responsible. That’s why it’s always advisable to speak with a Carrollton work injury attorney when you’re injured on the job. They can help you determine which party may be at-fault and how you can hold them accountable for your losses
A Carrollton Work Injury Attorney Can Help You Understand Your Rights
If you’ve suffered from a workplace injury, it’s critical to have an experienced attorney in your corner.
A Carrollton work injury attorney can help you explore all of your legal options—whether that’s filing a workplace injury claim or taking your employer to court. Our attorneys will conduct an in-depth investigation of the circumstances surrounding your injury and explore all possible sources of financial compensation. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.