Workers’ compensation insurance in Texas
The workers’ compensation system is helpful in that it allows employers to provide lost earnings and medical benefits to employees if they are involved in an injurious workplace accident. Employers retain an insurance policy, which helps cover the costs of work-related mishaps. Aside from cases involving gross negligence that result in death, workers’ compensation insurance limits employers’ liability when workers file suit for damages.
A state insurance program provides covered, injured workers with medical benefits and income. Employees must be injured on the job or have a work-related illness. In Texas, private employers may select whether they want to carry workers’ compensation coverage.
What if employers are not covered?
If employers do not carry the coverage, they must report their non-covered status and any work injuries, deaths or employment-related sickness to the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation. Those that fail to do so are committing an administrative violation and may be subject to serious penalties. Moreover, non-subscribers must notify workers that no coverage exists. There is something called a Notice 5 posting, which helps accomplish this requirement.
Ultimately, the primary difference between insured and non-insured employers is liability. The exclusive remedy doctrine provides a specific number of benefits to injured employees. This protection is given in exchange for a cap on legal responsibility, which excludes most claims of negligence. Therefore, those employers who do not retain insurance are not sheltered by the exclusive remedy doctrine.
More specifically, companies with no workers’ compensation could be required to pay punitive damages if they do not prevail in a personal injury lawsuit. Moreover, employers could also lose the right to assert common-law defenses, including the following:
- The employee’s negligent conduct resulted in the work-related injury
- The negligence of other workers caused the employee’s injury
- The harmed employee was aware of the hazard, but ignored and accepted the danger
Moreover, some courts order businesses to compensate for pain and suffering. In the end, if a workplace accident occurs under the roof of a noninsured and negligent company, the employer could be financially responsible.
If you have been harmed in a workplace accident in Texas, you may have very specific recovery rights. However, your legal options may differ, depending on the insurance status of your employer. To learn more about your case and recover the benefits you deserve, speak with a qualified personal injury law attorney. A lawyer can help you move forward after an accident.