Can I Sue My Employer If I Suffer a Work Injury?
Suffering a work injury can happen unexpectedly no matter the industry. Consulting a lawyer experienced in this area of law will help you achieve compensation.
In 2017, Texas private employers reported a whopping 183,396 nonfatal workplace injuries. That means over 2 out of 100 full-time employees sustained an injury or illness back then!
Granted, that’s lower than the national rate of 2.8 per 100 workers. But for the injured, that doesn’t compare to the pain and suffering they go through.
As such, if you suffered a work injury, you may be wondering if you have the right to sue your employer.
The simple answer is yes, you can, under certain conditions. One is if you rejected workers’ compensation coverage upon employment. You can also sue if your employer declined the coverage.
Sounds easy enough, right?
Unfortunately, there’s nothing simple about the workers’ comp law in Texas. The situations above come with requirements that may make filing a lawsuit a lot harder.
Don’t worry though, as we’ll explain everything in detail below, so be sure to keep reading!
The Lowdown on the Texas Worker’s Compensation Law
Unlike most other states where workers’ comp is a requirement, in Texas, it’s an option. Meaning, the law doesn’t require most employers to get coverage. It’s up to employers to purchase the insurance, and they may choose not to.
If an employer opts out of the coverage, they need to tell their employees though. They must let their new hires know right away that they have no workers’ comp coverage. Moreover, they need to put up a notice about non-coverage around the workplace.
If an employer has coverage, new hires have the option not to get covered. They have the right to waive the benefits that come with workers’ comp. If they do, then they keep their common-law right to file a lawsuit in case of a work-related injury.
New hires have at least five days to decide if they want to waive their rights. If they do, then they no longer have the right to receive workers’ comp medical or income benefits. What they have is the right to file a lawsuit for a wider range of damages.
Suing for Work Injury Outside of Texas Worker’s Compensation
Let’s say you rejected workers’ comp or your employer doesn’t have coverage. If you sustain a work-related injury, you can sue your employer using your common-law right. In this case, you may choose to file a personal injury lawsuit.
If you win the case, you’ll receive a monetary award that’s not limited to the benefits of worker’s comp. Yes, you’ll still receive reimbursement for medical treatment, hospital bills, and lost wages. But this “reward” can also include compensation for pain, suffering, and punitive damages.
To win your case, you would have to prove that your employer is at fault for your injuries. One example is to prove your employer’s negligence that resulted in your injuries.
Even if workers’ comp isn’t a legal requirement in Texas, the Occupational Safety and Hazard Act is. OSHA is a federal law that gives employees the right to a safe, hazard-free workplace. If employers failed to carry out such duties, that’s one form of negligence.
A work injury lawyer in Texas can help you raise your chances of winning the case. They can also help you maximize your personal injury claim compensation. They’ll use their in-depth knowledge of the Texas law to prove your employer’s fault.
Filing a Lawsuit Even with Worker’s Comp in Place
Yes, you can hire a personal injury lawyer to sue your employer for work injuries even if you have workers’ comp. Here are a few situations wherein such worker’s comp exemptions apply.
Aside from negligence, your employer may have injured you through intentional actions. These are actions carried out directly by your employer that led to your injuries. An example is a physical assault, say in the case of a worker-employer disagreement.
Negligence of Other Employees
What if your injuries resulted from a negligent co-worker? In this case, you should enlist a work injury attorney to sue your co-worker and even your employer. Especially if there have already been previous reports made against that other employee.
The basis here is that an employer was also negligent of their duties to maintain a safe workplace. They have already received complaints against an employee but failed to take action. Not correcting the employee’s negligent behavior also makes them negligent.
Failure to Disclose Non-Coverage
As mentioned above, disclosure of non-coverage is a must for all employers who opt-out of worker’s comp. If your employer failed to tell you this, they committed an administrative violation.
This applies to employers who stopped their coverage but didn’t inform their workers. The same is true for employers who terminate coverage without telling the employee.
If you find yourself in any of these situations and you also got injured on the job, be sure to consult an attorney. You may be able to sue your employer for failure to disclose these details.
What To Do If You Get Injured on the Job
If you got involved in a workplace or work-related accident, get medical help right away.
If your employer has workers’ compensation, you need to see an insurance-approved doctor. The only exception to this is if injuries require emergency medical services. Then, let your supervisor or boss know of your injuries or illnesses within 30 days.
If you waived your rights to coverage or your employer doesn’t have insurance, talk to a lawyer ASAP. This way, you’ll know right away what your compensation options are.
Don’t Delay Hiring a Lawyer When You Sustain Job Injuries
Keep in mind that in the U.S., a work injury happens every seven seconds. If this happens to you, know that you have every right to fair compensation. Especially if someone else was responsible for all your pain and suffering.
That said, don’t delay consulting a McAllen personal injury lawyer about your case. A lawyer can be the key to building a much stronger, more solid case against your employer.
If you need legal assistance about your workplace injury, know that we can help. Get in touch with our McAllen attorneys who specialize in workplace injuries now!