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Houston Workers’ Comp Lawyer

Due to the fact that Texas is one of the few states where workers’ compensation is not mandatory, many workers are unsure of what channels to follow when they are injured. You have certain federal rights as an employee, including the right to a safe work environment and if you have been injured due to negligence, there could be one of two options on offer to you.

If your employer holds workers’ compensation insurance, then that is the route you will take to recover your damages. If your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, then you may follow the more traditional personal injury lawsuit path.

If you, or somebody close to you has suffered an injury following an accident at work, you should contact an attorney immediately. They will evaluate your case, answer your questions, and advise you on your next steps. By speaking to a dedicated Houston workers comp lawyer, you will ensure you make the right decision, one that optimizes your chances of seeking the maximum compensation on offer to you. This will ensure that your compensation truly reflects your suffering and damages.

As your legal representation, we will fight on your behalf, advocating for you in both the negotiation stage, where we fight for a settlement, or in court, if we have to litigate. We also take over the paperwork, liaising with other parties and the investigation, leaving you with time, and space to focus on recovering from your injuries.

Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC – Speak To a Dedicated Workers Compensation Lawyer Today

After an accident in the workplace, victims have a lot to deal with. Besides the injury, pain and potential treatment you may have to go through, most victims face anxiety over their finances. This is because workers will usually have to take some time off work to deal with their injuries and will have medical bills that they need to pay before they have recovered their damages.

Fortunately, with the help of an attorney, you will be able to pursue compensation that covers all of your damages.

Here at Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC, as part of our service to the victims of workplace injuries, we offer a free initial consultation. In this meeting, we will provide you with a free case evaluation and inform you if we think your case is valid and worth pursuing. If it is, we will do so on a contingency fee basis, working for nothing up front and for nothing if we lose the case. If we win, we take our legal fees from your settlement or from the damages awarded to you in court.

To speak to one of our Houston workers compensation lawyers today, call 936-251-5246.

Your Rights as an Injured Worker in Houston, TX

Every employed worker in the country has certain rights awarded to them under federal laws. These laws include the right to work in a safe environment for an employer that puts your health and safety first.

In accordance with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), your employee rights include:

  • To have safe equipment to use
  • To be fully protected from toxic chemicals
  • To be provided with safety equipment, such as a hard hat, eye protection, gloves and anything else required by your job
  • To be trained in a language you understand
  • The right to report any injury or illness and to receive copies of your medical records.
  • To have access to the workplace injury and illness log
  • To seek copies of test results regarding hazards in the workplace
  • The right to request an OSHA inspection and speak with an inspector about any concerns you have without any fear of repercussions

Can I File a Lawsuit if I am Offered Workers’ Comp After a Work Injury?

Texas does not require employers to carry workers’ compensation, making the rules different from most states where it is a legal requirement. This means the steps you take following an injury are completely dictated by whether or not your employer has decided to opt-in or opt-out of workers’ compensation.

If they have decided to opt-out, first, they are required to inform you before employment that they have done so. If you are injured at work, and they do not have workers compensation then you will be entitled to file a lawsuit against them if you have been injured due to negligence.

If your employers have workplace compensation, then you will use that to make your claim when you are injured. Workers’ compensation claims are usually much easier to win and more straightforward than a personal injury lawsuit. However, you will not be able to claim for certain damages, such as pain and suffering.

Due to their nature, the best way to maximize your compensation if you have to claim through workers’ compensation is to pursue it with a skilled Houston workers’ compensation lawyer. With their experience, they can ensure that your damages are fairly calculated, making sure you are not out of pocket in the long run.

Everything begins with a free initial consultation.

Call us today at 936-251-5246.

What Constitutes a Workplace Injury?

A workplace injury is one that occurs while at work, or carrying out your work duties outside of the workplace. This includes when you are driving during your contracted hours.

Common Workplace Injuries in Houston

As a Houston workers’ compensation attorney, we handle workplace injury cases on a regular basis, meaning we have dealt with cases just like yours before. Some of the more common injuries that result in a workers’ compensation claim include:

  • Repetitive strain and motion injuries
  • Injuries caused by overexertion
  • Injuries caused by a falling object
  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Injuries caused by a lack of proper personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Accidents due to automated technology

The list above is not a comprehensive list of all the injuries we deal with, though they are the most common. Houston is a large area, and includes a huge variety of different types of jobs and workers. This means that there are countless unique ways that people can be injured.

If you have been injured at work and you are unsure if you are eligible to raise a claim, you should contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney for an initial case evaluation.

How a Workers Compensation Claim Works if You are an Independent Contractor

As an independent contractor, you may be unaware of your rights and whether or not you are entitled to make a worker’s compensation claim. Unfortunately, independent contractors are not covered by worker’s compensation for the most part.

However, this does not mean that you cannot raise a claim, it just means you will not follow the workers’ compensation route. Instead, your best option is to raise a personal injury claim against the negligent party.

The best and most straightforward way to find out if you are covered or entitled to make a claim, is to contact a law firm that deals with workplace injuries.

A Texas Workplace Does Not Have to Carry Workers’ Comp Insurance

Remember, Texas does not require any employer to obtain workers compensation. It does however, place a legal requirement on employers to tell their employees that they have opted out of the workers compensation scheme.

If they have opted out of workplace compensation insurance, you will not be able to take the easier route and claim the benefits on offer through the scheme. You can, however, pursue a personal injury claim based on negligence, and these claims are usually worth a lot more money due to the fact that you will be able to pursue personal injury damages and other damages that are not on offer during a workplace compensation claim.

How to Know if Your Employer Carries Workers Compensation Insurance

Firstly, the law in Texas states that all employers must tell their employees if they are going to, or have already opted out of the workplace compensation scheme. This means that you should have been told when you were employed.

Secondly, if you ask your employer, they are legally obligated to tell you that they do not have workers’ compensation insurance.

Finally, if you believe your employer is lying to you, you can speak to your attorney and they will be able to find out by contacting the Texas Department of Insurance-Workers’ Compensation to find out if your employer is enrolled.

Usually, You Cannot Raise a Lawsuit Against Your Employer if They Carry Workers Comp Insurance

If your employer does have workplace insurance, there is a good chance that you will not be able to raise a traditional personal injury lawsuit against them. This means that you need to approach the workers compensation process with skilled legal representation behind you, as this is your best chance of maximizing what you receive.

You may also consider the following options:

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit for Intentional Harm

If you have been injured at work and it was calculated and intentional, then you may be entitled to raise a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party, regardless of whether they carry workplace compensation or not.

You should always approach cases involving intentional harm with a strong attorney. These cases are difficult to win and will require a solid case. You will need to work with your attorney to investigate and provide the evidence necessary.

Filing a Lawsuit Against a Third Party

If a third party caused your injuries while you were at work, you may need to pursue your compensation and the recovery of the damages you have suffered from them directly. You can do this alongside claiming from your workers compensation.

This may be the case in the following situations:

  • If you are involved in a car accident with a negligent driver while you were on the clock
  • If you have been injured by a defective tool or piece of machinery, such as automated robots, power tools, or equipment and the fault lies with the manufacturer
  • If you are on the clock and have traveled to another private property on callout and suffer an injury on said premises. This may include slips, trips and falls or dog bite attacks.

Your Family May be Able to Sue Your Employer in Cases of a Fatality

If somebody you love has been killed in a workplace accident, it could be down to the family or estate representative to raise a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased.

In these cases, your family may be able to pursue damages that cover the loss of consortium and companionship and provide financial security to the family. This can be done regardless of whether or not the employer had workplace insurance.

These are civil cases, however, not criminal, meaning there will be no criminal charges or punishments. Civil cases allow for financial compensation only. 

While no amount of money will ever reverse what has happened, it does cover funeral costs and provides enough money for the family to take time off to grieve and deal with what has happened.

 

The Types of Damages Covered by Houston, Texas Workers Compensation Benefits

When claiming through workers’ compensation, certain damages are not going to be on offer to you. Pain and suffering damages that are claimed in a normal personal injury case is one of these damages.

However, many damages are still on offer, such as:

Medical Expenses

Medical care is estimated to cost around $12,000 per citizen on average across the United States. This places America at the top of the list for the most expensive healthcare in the world, and by no small margin. In fact, Germany, the second most expensive country on the list, has an average of $7,000 per citizen. This makes it around $5,000 more expensive per person in America.

With these statistics, it is understandable why so many are suffering from major anxiety and worry when they come to us. Following a workplace injury, a person may need to take lots of time off work, losing out on wages and income while simultaneously watching their medical bills add up. This double-edged sword means that some victims are left in extremely difficult situations while waiting for their case to conclude.

Fortunately, if your case is successful, you will be able to recover all of your medical costs. This includes all of the medical expenses you have already had to pay for and all of the medical bills that you may suffer in the future. 

However, the other party and their insurance company are going to fight as hard as they can to discredit and devalue your claim, which means you need to preserve as much evidence as possible. When your attorney comes to calculate your medical expenses, if you can provide all of your receipts, bills and invoices, it makes their calculations much more solid and hard to dispute.

We also recommend keeping a day-by-day diary that includes how you are feeling, your pain and any treatment you have had that day. This timeline can help with proving causation.

Lost Wages

When you have been involved in a serious workplace accident, you may have injuries that require a long period of time off from work. You may also require time off in the future to receive further treatment. This is often on the recommendation of the doctor.

For most workers, this will result in some form of lost income and earning potential, which is not fair when the accident was not through your own doing. Thankfully, workers’ compensation should recoup you for all of your lost income and wages.

In the event that you will not be able to return to work in the same capacity as you did, for example, if you have suffered an amputation, then you may look to claim a lifetime of lost earning potential. If this is the case, your attorney may call in a financial expert to help them to work out what this should look like.

Disability Benefits

For victims who have suffered life-long impairment due to their injuries, your workplace compensation should compensate you for the drastic effect on your life that your injuries are going to have.

Furthermore, you may be entitled to pursue additional compensation in a situation like this. Numerous government benefits cover workers who have been injured and left with a disability.

Your attorney will be the best person to ask and will know exactly what benefits you can seek and your chances of success.

The Types of Damages Exclusive to Personal Injury Lawsuits

Pain and Suffering Damages

Pain and suffering damages are designed to compensate victims in personal injury for the physical pain they have been through as a result of the injuries, as well as the emotional trauma and mental suffering they have been through.

Pain and suffering also covers workers for any loss of enjoyment of life that they have suffered. Loss of enjoyment of life is any change to your routine and life that is classed as a loss. An example of this would be if you have suffered a back injury that means you can no longer ride your bicycle on the weekend, you should be compensated for this loss of enjoyment.

This is perhaps the main difference between a workplace compensation claim and a personal injury claim. In a workers compensation claim, pain and suffering damages are not included in the compensation.

Property Damage

It is rare that a worker suffers property damage in a workplace accident, but you will not be able to pursue the recovery of your property damage in a workplace comp claim either.

How to Approach the Workers Compensation Process

For the best possible chances of pursuing a successful workers compensation claim, one that allows you to recover adequate compensation for the injuries and damages you have suffered, you should seek legal representation. They will help guide you through the process in the smoothest way.

The very first step in filing a workers’ compensation claim is to seek medical attention for any injuries you have suffered. Your attorney will need to prove causation, which means proving that the accident caused your injuries. This becomes a lot easier to do if you have sought medical attention immediately after the accident.

Once you have had your injuries addressed by a medical professional, you now have a time limit of 30 days to file your accident report. This is crucial as after 30 days, your attorney will not have to provide you workers’ compensation for your injuries. Your attorney will help you file this.

Once you have filed your accident report, you need to get in contact with the DWC and submit an Employee’s Claim for Compensation for a Work-Related Injury or Occupational Disease form, which is also known as a DWC Form-041.

Filing your paperwork correctly and on time is one of the reasons why we recommend involving your chosen attorney as soon as possible. They will ensure everything is filed correctly and under the right deadlines. They will also help you calculate your damages and investigate on your behalf.

Houston Work Injury FAQ

This will always depend on whether your employer has workplace compensation or not. If they carry workplace compensation insurance, it is unlikely that you will be able to pursue a personal injury claim against them for negligence. 

If they have decided to opt out of workplace compensation, then you may be able to pursue a negligence claim. 

You should speak to your attorney if you are unsure which one applies to your situation.

In accordance with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), your employee rights include:

  • The right to safe equipment
  • The right to be protected against toxic chemicals
  • To be provided with safety equipment, such as a hard hat, eye protection, gloves and anything else required by your job
  • The right to training given in a language that you understand
  • The right to report any injury or illness and to receive copies of your medical records
  • To have access to the workplace injury and illness log
  • To seek copies of test results regarding hazards in the workplace
  • The right to request an OSHA inspection and speak with an inspector about any concerns you have without any fear of repercussions

The statute of limitations in Texas places a legal time limit on personal injury, workplace compensation and wrongful death claims. This prevents victims from trying to claim for historical injuries when there will be no evidence to back up their claims.

The statute of limitations that applies to Texas is two years from the date of the accident. After this time, if you try to raise a claim then it will be thrown out.

No, once you have accepted compensation from your employer, you have given up the right to pursue further compensation in the future.

Speak to our Team of Houston Work Injury Lawyers

If you have been involved in a workplace accident, it is normal to feel unsure of what to do next. Your first steps should always be to contact a workplace injury lawyer that can help guide you through the compensation process.  We can help you understand your workers comp benefits, and if your employers do not carry workers’ compensation insurance, we can discuss a personal injury claim with you.

If you plan to claim through your workplace compensation, an attorney will help you maximize your claim, fighting for every penny along the way. Legal representation makes it much easier to claim the right amount that covers your injuries adequately.

Here at Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC, we have won countless cases that are similar to yours in the past, and we have the skills and knowledge to fight your case to the fullest extent. We do not settle for less and we will not rest until we have explored every avenue.

We will work hard to maximize your claim and help victims that have suffered from serious impairment to maximize their disability benefits. If your workplace wants to negotiate a settlement, we will advocate on your behalf, presenting a compelling case as to why you deserve what we are seeking. 

If your case has to move to the courtroom, we are ready to litigate. Our team of attorneys are skilled in personal injury trial law and aren’t afraid to stand up to the insurance giants of the state.

It begins with a free evaluation and consultation regarding your workers’ comp claim. During this meeting, we can provide you with some immediate legal advice regarding your case, and we can answer any questions that you may have. We offer this meeting for a reason, to provide immediate advice and assistance to any victim when they need us most.

Call us at 936-251-5246.