If you are a worker in Texas and are suffering from an on-the-job injury or illness, you may qualify for workers’ compensation. If your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, or your injury is the result of a third party, you may also be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit against the party that caused you harm.
Workplace injury claims can be complicated, and Texas law isn’t always clear. Nearly every day at Kherkher Garcia, LLP, individuals reach out to our work injury lawyers with questions about benefits and their rights after a workplace injury. Below, we discuss some of the most frequently asked questions we receive, with helpful information if you suffer a workplace injury.
FAQs about Workplace Injury Claims
Take a look at the questions our lawyers most often receive about workplace injuries, workers’ compensation, claims, and your rights.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a state-mandated insurance program that provides benefits to employees who are injured or become ill on the job. In Texas, the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act governs workers’ compensation. The Texas Workers’ Compensation Act provides benefits for:
- Medical care
- Lost wages
- Death benefits
To be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, you must have been injured or become ill on the job. You must also have been employed by a company that is covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
What Types of Injuries are NOT Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
While workers’ compensation laws vary by jurisdiction, there are some general types of injuries that may not be covered:
- Self-Inflicted Injuries: Injuries that are self-inflicted, such as suicide attempts, are generally not covered by workers’ compensation.
- Violations of Company Policy: If your injury occurred while performing an activity that violated company policy or was illegal, workers’ compensation may not cover the injury.
- Injuries that Occur Off Duty: If you were not on the clock at the time of the injury, workers’ compensation generally will not cover it.
- Injuries that Occur While Commuting: Generally, injuries that occur during your commute to and from work are not covered by workers’ compensation.
- Injuries Due to Intoxication: If your injury was caused by the your own use of drugs or alcohol, workers’ compensation may not cover the injury.
What if Workers’ Compensation is Not Enough?
Even if your employer has workers’ compensation insurance, the benefits you are eligible for may not be enough to cover the entirety of your injuries and related losses. That’s why it is so important to work with a work injury lawyer who will make certain that you are getting the compensation that you are entitled to, and deserve.
What is a Workplace Injury Claim?
A workplace injury claim is a personal injury lawsuit filed by an employee who has been injured or fallen ill due to their work. The claim seeks compensation for the injury or illness, and typically includes medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages suffered as a result of the injury or illness.
A personal injury claim may be made against the employer if they do not have workers’ compensation insurance, or adequate insurance. Also, a personal injury claim may be made against a third party that contributed to the injury or illness. Employees have a right to sue if their injuries are the result of negligence.
Are there Exceptions to the Right to Sue?
In order to avoid lawsuits, many companies implement policies that prohibit employees from suing them. There are exceptions in Texas law, however, that may override such policies. Situations that override prohibitive policies include:
- The employee died as a result of the injuries
- The employee has financial dependents
- The employer committed gross negligence
What Types of Injuries are Eligible for Workplace Injury Claims?
The types of injuries that are covered by workplace injury claims may vary depending on the jurisdiction, the parties involved, and the situation leading up to the injury. However, in general, workplace injury claims may cover:
- Accidents and injuries that occur while performing work-related tasks, including injuries that result from a slip or fall, being struck by an object, or other accidents that occur while on the job.
- Repetitive stress injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or tendinitis, that develop over time due to performing repetitive tasks.
- Illnesses or diseases that result from exposure to harmful chemicals, radiation, or other hazards in the workplace.
- Mental health conditions that develop as a result of workplace stress or trauma.
- Pre-existing conditions that are made worse by work activities or conditions.
What Compensation is Available via a Workplace Injury Claim?
The type of compensation that you are eligible for under workers’ compensation or a personal injury lawsuit will depend on the facts of your case. However, in general, benefits that may be available include:
- Medical Expenses: You may be entitled to coverage for medical expenses related to your workplace injury, including doctor visits, hospital stays, surgery, prescription medication, and other necessary medical treatments.
- Lost Wages: If you are unable to work due to your injury, you may be entitled to wage replacement benefits, which typically cover a percentage of your lost wages.
- Disability Benefits: If your injury results in a permanent disability that prevents you from returning to your previous job or earning the same level of income, you may be entitled to disability benefits.
- Vocational Rehabilitation: If you are unable to return to your previous job due to your injury, you may be entitled to vocational rehabilitation services to help you find new employment.
- Death Benefits: If a workplace injury results in the death of an employee, their spouse and/or dependents may be entitled to death benefits, including compensation for funeral expenses and ongoing financial support.
Can I Receive Workers’ Compensation and Sue my Employer at the Same Time?
In general, you cannot sue your employer if you have already accepted workers’ compensation benefits. This is because workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” system. This means that you do not need to prove that your employer was negligent in order to receive benefits. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. Here are some of the exceptions to the rule that you cannot sue your employer if you have already accepted workers’ compensation benefits:
- Intentional Misconduct: If your employer intentionally injured you, you may be able to sue them in civil court. This could include cases where your employer assaulted you, exposed you to dangerous chemicals, or created a dangerous work environment.
- Failure to Provide a Safe Workplace: If your employer failed to provide a safe workplace and this led to your injury, you may be able to sue them. This could include cases where your employer did not provide proper safety equipment, did not train you on how to use dangerous equipment, or did not keep the workplace clean and free of hazards.
- Third-Party Negligence: If your injury was caused by the negligence of someone other than your employer, you may be able to sue that person in civil court. This could include cases where you were injured in a car accident while on the job, or where you were injured by a defective product.
If you are considering suing your employer, it is important to speak with an attorney to discuss your legal options.
What is the Deadline for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
In Texas, the deadline to file a workers’ compensation claim is one year from the date of injury or the date the injury became apparent or was diagnosed. This deadline is known as the statute of limitations. If you do not file a claim within this timeframe, you may lose your right to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
There are some exceptions to the one-year deadline. For example, if your employer failed to provide you with notice of your rights under workers’ compensation laws, the deadline may be extended. Additionally, if you were under the age of 18 or mentally incompetent at the time of the injury, the deadline may also be extended.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims?
In Texas, the statute of limitations on personal injury claims is generally two years from the date of the injury or the date the injury was discovered or should have been discovered. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if the injured person is a minor or has a legal disability, the two-year time limit may be extended. Also, if the injury was caused by exposure to asbestos or other toxic substances, the time limit may be different.
How Long Does it take for a Workplace Injury Claim to be Resolved?
The length of time it takes to resolve a workplace injury claim can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the severity of the injury, the complexity of the case, and the parties involved. In general, simple workers’ compensation claims may be resolved relatively quickly, often within a few weeks or months. However, more complex cases or lawsuits that involve disputes over liability or the extent of the injury may take much longer to resolve, often taking several months or even years.
Do I Need a Lawyer to File a Workplace Injury Claim?
In general, it is not necessary to have a lawyer to file a workers’ compensation claim. However, there are some situations where it may be advisable to hire a lawyer. For example, if you have a serious injury, if your employer is disputing your claim, or if you are facing other challenges in obtaining benefits. Furthermore, if you believe you have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit, you should discuss this with a lawyer before filing any claims.
What are the Benefits of Hiring a Work Injury Lawyer?
If you are considering hiring a lawyer, it is important to do your research and find one who is experienced in workers’ compensation and personal injury law. Here are some of the benefits of hiring a lawyer to file a workplace injury claim:
- A lawyer can help you understand workers’ compensation laws and can advise you on your legal rights.
- A lawyer can represent you in negotiations with your employer or the workers’ compensation insurance company.
- A lawyer can negotiate and represent you in court, if necessary, when pursuing a personal injury claim.
- A lawyer can help you get the medical care and benefits that you are entitled to.
Learn More about Your Rights after a Workplace Injury
If you are battling an injury or illness due to your workplace, Kherkher Garcia wants to hear from you. Our workplace injury lawyers believe that injury victims deserve to opportunity to fight for their rights and get the compensation they deserve. Whether you have a seemingly simple workers’ compensation claim, or a complex injury better suited for a lawsuit – we can help!
With more than 30 years of workplace and personal injury experience, our lawyers know how to protect your rights and get results that matter. For a free consultation, call us at 713-333-1030.