When you are injured on the job, one of the big issues affecting your case will be whether your employer has worker’s compensation insurance. There are several issues that you need to look at to see how any worker’s compensation insurance will affect your claim.
1. Does your employer have true worker’s compensation insurance?
Many employers purchase “true” worker’s compensation insurance, purchased in accordance with the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act. (Employers who purchase true worker’s compensation insurance are called “subscribers.”) However, because worker’s compensation insurance is so expensive, many employers purchase “accident” insurance that doesn’t fully comply with Texas Workers’ Compensation requirements. (Employers who purchase this accident insurance or who don’t have any insurance at all are called “non-subscribers.”) These two types of policies are treated differently under the law so it’s important to know what type of coverage, if any, that your employer offers.
It can often be difficult to find an answer to this first question. Employers are supposed to post notices about whether they are subscribers under the worker’s compensation system, but these notices are often difficult to find. The Texas Department of Insurance also maintains an online database of subscribers, which you can find here, but you need to know the precise legal name of your employer to use the database.
2. Were you injured as a result of your employer’s negligence/conduct?
Under Texas worker’s compensation law, if your employer is a subscriber, then you are able to recover worker’s compensation benefits for any on-the-job injury, regardless of fault. However, in exchange for these benefits, the law does not allow you to sue your employer for additional damages except in rare instances.
If you’re employer was a non-subscriber — it didn’t purchase worker’s comp insurance or only purchased accident insurance — then you’re free to sue your employer for causing your injuries.
3. Were you injured by someone else?
Many times, people are hurt by others while they’re on the job. For example, you may be in a car wreck while you’re on the job.
In these situations, you are allowed to recover worker’s compensation benefits and also make a claim against the party who caused your harm. The big caveat here is that you will have to reimburse your workers’ compensation carrier for some of the benefits you received if you make a recovery from a third party.
These situations also get very complicated in construction cases, where worker’s comp policies can cover employees of other companies. If you were injured on a construction job by another sub-contractor, then you need to speak to an attorney to get more clarification than I can offer here.