Getting injured at work and not being able to return to your job or earn the same income that you did before the accident can be extremely stressful. You are probably concerned about how you will pay your bills and afford medical care. Thankfully, individuals injured at work have rights under Texas law.
The type and amount of compensation will depend primarily on whether or not your employer has workers’ compensation insurance. Unlike most states, most Texas employers can decide whether or not to subscribe to workers’ compensation insurance. However, the majority of Texas employers do have workers’ compensation coverage.
What Benefits are Available Under Workers’ Compensation in Texas?
If your employer subscribes to workers’ compensation insurance, you are typically eligible for at least some coverage if you can prove that you were injured at work and notify your employer of the injury within 30 days. An attorney can assist you in filing your workers’ compensation claim.
In Texas, workers’ compensation insurance covers medical and income benefits. Medical benefits pay for the costs relating to treating a workplace illness or injury. The employee may be required to see an in-network doctor for the costs to be covered.
Income benefits are based on the severity of the injury and the average weekly wage in the 13 weeks before the workplace injury. There are four types of income benefits that you may be entitled to 1) temporary income benefits, 2) impairment income benefits, 3) supplemental income benefits, and 4) lifetime income benefits.
1. Temporary Income Benefits: Temporary income benefits are available to employees who have been out of work for more than seven days. The missed days do not need to be consecutive. The benefit typically amounts to 70 or 75% of the worker’s average weekly wage before the injury. The benefit ends either when the employee returns to work and their pay equals what it was before the injury or when a doctor reports that no further healing or recovery is expected. Employees can receive temporary income benefits for a maximum of 104 weeks.
2. Impairment Income Benefits: Employees can receive impairment income benefits if they sustained permanent bodily damage due to a workplace injury. The benefit equals 70% of their average weekly wage before the injury. The doctor will assign the injured worker an impairment rating based on the percentage of their permanent physical damage. The worker receives three weeks of impairment income benefits for each percentage point. Impairment income benefits are not dependent on whether the employee returns to work; they can continue even after they have returned to their job.
3. Supplemental Income Benefits: Supplemental income benefits are available to workers who have sustained serious permanent damage and have not returned to work or are earning less than they previously made. To be eligible, the injured employee must have an impairment rating of 15% or greater, be out of work or earning less than 80% of what they made before the injury, show that they are looking for work, and not have accepted a lump-sum payment for their injury. The worker must reapply for these benefits every three weeks. The benefit equals 80% of the difference between 80% of the employee’s average weekly wage before the injury and what the injured employee gets paid weekly after the injury.
4. Lifetime Income Benefits: Lifetime income benefits are eligible to workers who have sustained certain serious injuries, such as blindness, brain injuries, or the loss of two limbs. The benefit equals 75% of the workers’ average weekly age before the injury plus a 3% cost-of-living increase every year. There is no time limit on lifetime income benefits.
What If My Employer Does Not Carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Texas employers that opt-out of getting workers’ compensation insurance are referred to as nonsubscriber employers. If you work for a nonsubscriber employer, you still can get compensation if you were injured at work, although the process is typically more difficult than filing a workers’ compensation claim.
You can file a lawsuit and pursue compensation directly from the employer. To recover benefits, you must prove that the company was at least 1% at fault for your injuries. Examples of employer negligence include failing to provide proper equipment or adequate warnings.
If successful, the company is responsible for paying 100% of the fair compensation to the injured worker, including:
• Past and future medical expenses;
• Past and future lost wages;
• Loss of future earning potential;
• Pain and suffering;
• Mental anguish, depression, and anxiety; and
Your Sugar Land Personal Injury Attorney
Adam Capetillo is an experienced Sugar Land attorney passionate about protecting the rights of his clients. If you were injured at work and have questions about the benefits available to you, we encourage you to call our office today at (346) 444-1299 to schedule a free consultation.