A great many Texas workers put in long hours on the job every day, often in some of the most dangerous professions anywhere, including work at oil and gas drilling and refining sites, construction and many other professions. In some cases, workers are injured on the job because of repetitive or difficult movements, but more often than not, injuries are caused by a workplace environment that is unsafe.
Texas Leads Country in Workplace Injuries
Unfortunately, too often workers are injured on the job. In fact, Texas has the dubious honor of leading the nation in workplace injuries and fatalities. Worse, almost all of those injuries and fatalities are preventable. Unsafe work environments can be prevented and hazardous conditions can be mitigated. However, employers often opt to save money and place profits ahead of their mandate to keep workers safe.
When a worker in any industry is injured on the job, that injury too often leaves them and their families devastated. Besides the obvious pain of the injury itself, there are often many other things to deal with. If the injury is severe, there may be a long recovery time and there may be considerable expenses having to do with a long recovery, or even rehabilitation and physical therapy. In some severe cases, it may take years to recover, and families often have to adjust their lifestyles to compensate for that.
In Texas, virtually all employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, which means any worker who has been injured on the job is entitled to all necessary medical care and benefits that cover most of their pay while they are unable to work due to their injury or illness.
What Should You Do If Injured at Work?
Unfortunately, while the workers’ comp system should assist workers and their families recover physically, the system also bars them from filing a lawsuit against their employer. That doesn’t mean you are without recourse, but there are certain things every worker should do to protect themselves when they are injured on the job.
- Report the injury to a supervisor or manager immediately. Be very detailed in describing the injury itself and how it happened. It’s important that all of this is done as soon as possible; if you wait too long, it could negatively impact your workers’ compensation claim.
- See a doctor immediately. Don’t try to “tough it out.” You injury should be properly assessed as soon as possible. Again, waiting to see a doctor can have a negative impact on your workers’ comp claim. It is also useful to have as much specific information about your injury as you possibly can early on.
- Document everything, no matter how small and insignificant you think it is. It is extremely important to establish a paper trail; it’s part of the process.
- Just as importantly, keep track of all information about all insurance you carry, including workers’ compensation, personal health insurance and anything else that may apply.
- Never, ever speak to anyone about your injury, including insurance adjusters and attorneys. And ball means, do not sign any piece of paper without running it by a workplace injury attorney first.
- Of course, this means consulting with an attorney as soon as possible after your workplace injury.
Who May Be Held Responsible for Injuries at Work?
Despite the fact that all workers in Texas are entitled to workers’ comp benefits according to state law, not all companies carry the insurance as required. That is why it is important to protect yourself. It is also important to note that the workers’ compensation insurance carrier represents the employer, so they may attempt to reduce costs, which means they will often try to pay less than you may be entitled to. Also, while an injured worker cannot sue their employer under workers’ comp law in most circumstances, there are sometimes either exceptions to the rule or other responsible parties you can sue. For example:
- If your employer failed to carry workers’ compensation insurance, it is possible to file a lawsuit against your employer in civil court or collect money from a state fund for such situations.
- If you were injured due to conduct by an employer that can be considered intentional or egregious conduct, you may be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against your employer.
- If a defective product was a proximate cause of your injuries, you may be able to bring a products liability action against the manufacturer of that product.
- If a vendor supplied a piece of equipment that had not been properly maintained or was not in good mechanical condition and that led to your injury, you may be able to file a lawsuit against that vendor.
- If you have been injured by a toxic substance, you may be able to bring a toxic tort lawsuit against the manufacturer of that substance.
- If any third party other than your employer can be found to have caused your injury, you may be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against that party to recover damages.
If you have been injured on the job in Texas, you are entitled to workers’ compensation coverage for your injuries. However, that doesn’t necessarily represent the end of your compensation. Depending on the circumstances, you could recover a lot more than workers’ compensation, especially if the employer isn’t 100 percent liable for the accident that caused your injuries. That is why it is so important to document everything you can about the accident that caused your injury and why it is enormously important that you contact a workplace injury attorney to examine the details and determine what must happen to make sure you get all the compensation you’re entitled to.
The workplace injury attorney at the Hill Law Firm can help you, starting with a free consultation. Call us today to learn more!