In Texas, employers generally provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage for employees. In the event of a workplace injury, this coverage is the employee’s exclusive remedy with the exception of wrongful death caused by gross negligence or intentional acts.
Employers may opt-out of the workers’ compensation system. These employers are known as nonsubscribers. Unlike an employer that maintains workers’ compensation insurance, a nonsubscriber may be directly sued for workplace injuries caused by negligence.
Third-party claims companies, other than your employer and employees of those companies that are negligent and injure you at work. In this situation, you may sue the negligent third party for your injuries and damages.
Work Injuries – Nonsubscriber Employers
Many large employers in Texas are electing to not carry workers’ compensation coverage. Employers that chose to opt-out of the Texas workers’ compensation system are deemed nonsubscribers. In the event of a work-related injury caused by negligence, an employee may sue the nonsubscriber employer for damages. Labor Code 406.033(a) and (d). The employee must show the employer was negligent and failed to maintain a safe workplace. An unsafe workplace may include a failure to (1) provide proper tools; (2) train; (3) warn; (4) create safety policies and procedures; (5) monitor or supervise the employee; and/or (6) instruct the employee. The employer may not assert as a defense in any lawsuit that: (1) the employee was guilty of contributory negligence; (2) the employee assumed the risk of injury or death; or (3) the injury or death was caused by the negligence of a fellow employee. Any percentage of negligence on the employer for proximately causing the incident and injuries will result in the potential for a full recovery of damages against the employer.
An employer that opts out of the workers’ compensation system may still carry an employee benefit plan that provides insurance to cover work-related injuries and claims. This benefit plan does not change the nonsubscriber status of the employer nor does it prevent the employee from filing a lawsuit. Generally, the benefit plan will be reviewed and acknowledged by the employee at the time of hiring. It is very important to maintain a copy of this benefit plan and understand this benefit plan may contain specific deadlines and procedures in the event of a work-related injury. The benefits plan may reduce your statute of limitations and provide arbitration instead of court as the forum for proceeding with your lawsuit. Most importantly, never execute a post-injury waiver of claims unless you are absolutely certain that you do not want to pursue a lawsuit.
Work Injuries – Workers’ Compensation Claims
Employers may provide worker’s compensation coverage for their employees. This is no-fault insurance coverage. The negligence of you, your co-workers and/or employer is not relevant to providing your medical treatment after a work-related injury. In the event that you are injured during the course and scope of your employment, the injuries caused by the work incident are covered by the worker’s compensation insurance. You may also be eligible for wage loss with certain limitations on the amount and duration of wages. Absent a work-related death caused by the gross negligence or intentional act of your employer, you and/or your family are not entitled to sue your employer when workers’ compensation coverage is available.
A workers’ compensation claim has specific deadlines for reporting the injury to your employer and the Texas Department of Insurance. Failure to comply with these deadlines may waive your right to benefits. The claim is managed through your employer, the insurance carrier and the Texas Department of Insurance.
Work Injuries – Third Party Claims
In the event that your work-related injury was caused by the negligence of another company or an employee of another company, you may have a separate claim against this “third party” in addition to your workers’ compensation claim. When a work-related injury involves a workers’ compensation claim and a potential third party lawsuit, it is important to understand that different deadlines will apply to the separate claims.
Contact a Nonsubscriber And Third Party Lawyer in League City Texas
Burwell Nebout Trial Lawyers in League City, Texas are experienced nonsubscriber and third-party attorneys. In the event that you have been injured at work and your employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance or a third party is responsible for your work-related injury, contact Burwell Nebout Trial Lawyers.