LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Michael Grossman | Feb 28, 2011

Texas Work Injuries: Workers' Comp Claims or Personal Injury Lawsuits?

If you happen to suffer an on-the-job injury while working for a Texas employer, you will have different avenues through which to seek compensation for your injury based on whether or not your employer subscribes to workers’ compensation insurance. Unlike most states, Texas does not mandate that all employers carry workers comp insurance. However, Texas law does provide certain benefits to employers that do opt to purchase workers compensation insurance. Consequently, many employers are subscribers, i.e. they purchase workers comp coverage for their employees. On the other hand, non-subscribing companies, as employers without workers comp insurance are called, also exist in Texas. What does this mean to an employee that suffers an injury while at work?

Since the avenues for compensation are drastically different whether or not an employer has workers comp coverage, an injured worker must first learn whether or not their employer is actually covered by workers comp. Since the main benefit to an employer that subscribes to workers comp is the fact that an injured worker cannot sue the employer, many non-subscribing employers may attempt to act as if they are subscribers in order to prevent possible litigation. They may dole out weekly payments or other benefits often associated with workers comp. However, this is a calculated and unethical move in which the liable employer would rather pay a little for a worker’s care rather than a significant amount that could be sought from them through a work injury lawsuit. Consequently, an injured worker may need to contact an experienced Texas work injury attorney to ascertain the employer’s workers’ comp status prior to seeking any kind of legal action.

If an employer subscribes to workers compensation insurance in Texas, an injured worker’s only recourse for compensation is through filing a worker’s compensation claim. A personal injury lawsuit cannot be brought against a workers’ comp employer in Texas. Although a workers comp claim can be useful in regards to seeking compensation for medical expenses, the compensation received is seldom adequate to cover an injured victim’s total amount of damages, especially considering that such compensation is capped at a certain limit. Furthermore, workers’ comp insurance does not cover issues like pain and suffering. Consequently, an injured victim may not receive full compensation for their injury through a workers’ comp claim. However, legal action can be sought against any third parties that may have been involved in the work injury accident. For example, if a product defect caused or contributed to an on-the-job injury accident, a personal injury lawsuit could be sought against the product manufacturer, and an injured victim could still seek compensation through a workers comp claim.

If an employer does not subscribe to workers’ compensation insurance, an injured worker can seek legal action against that employer through a personal injury lawsuit. Through such civil action, an injured worker can seek compensation for damages such as past and future medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, mental or emotional turmoil, loss of earning capacity, and other possible related issues. As long as the inclusion of specific damages in a personal injury lawsuit can be substantiated, there is no limit to the amount of compensation that can be sought. As such, an injured worker for a non-subscribing employer may have a better opportunity at seeking full compensation for their injury than an injured employee that must seek compensation only through a workers’ comp claim. However, seeking legal action through a work injury lawsuit often requires the help of an experienced Texas workplace accident lawyer who can investigate an accident in order to identify all liable parties. Such an investigation must often be conducted as soon as possible so that relevant evidence is not lost or manipulated. Furthermore, a strong case must also be built in order to show an employer’s liability for a work injury accident.

If you’ve suffered an injury while at work and are unsure of your legal options to seek compensation, consider contacting an experienced Texas work injury accident lawyer. They will be able to assist you in determining your employer’s workers comp status, as well as your next legal steps once that information is discovered. If an employer is covered by workers’ comp, you may be able to seek compensation through both a workers’ comp claim and a personal injury lawsuit against a liable third party. If an employer is not covered by workers’ comp, you may be able to seek compensation through a work injury lawsuit against that employer, in addition to litigation against any other liable third parties. Regardless, contacting a work injury lawyer can assist you in seeking compensation for your injury so that you might be able to get back to work and get back to living your life.

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