Most states require employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. If an employee is injured at work, their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company pays their medical bills and a portion of their salary if they cannot work. The employee does not need to prove the employer’s fault to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Texas, however, does not require employers to have workers’ compensation insurance. Employers who do not have workers’ compensation insurance are “nonsubscriber” employers because they do not subscribe to workers’ compensation insurance. Injured employee rights in Texas are different when the employer is a nonsubscriber.
Contact us today to learn more about employees’ rights in Texas and how Armstrong, Lee, & Baker LLP can help you.
What Should I Do If My Employer Is a Nonsubscriber to Workers’ Compensation?
If your employer is a nonsubscriber, know you are not covered by the state workers’ compensation system. Nonsubscriber businesses did not join a Texas Workers’ Compensation insurance program. Instead, they may have their own insurance for injured workers, which probably does not cover as much.
However, if your employer is a nonsubscriber, you are not limited to the coverage they offer you. You can still recover for a work injury from a nonsubscriber employer under the doctrine of negligence.
Injured Employee Rights in Texas – Nonsubscriber Employers
Injured employees of nonsubscriber employers have rights if they are injured in the workplace. And in some cases, they may be entitled to more than employees covered by workers’ compensation. The following are rights injured employees with nonsubscriber employers have.
File a Negligence Claim
You can sue your employer for your workplace injury as an injured employee. While you may not be covered by workers’ compensation, you can receive compensation based on a negligence claim.
An employer who enrolls in workers’ compensation insurance can prevent injured employees from suing them for negligence. But no such defense exists for nonsubscriber employers. Injured employees can sue their nonsubscriber employers for their injuries if they can prove the employer was at fault.
Opportunity for Compensation
If the injured employee’s negligence claim is successful, they can receive compensation for their injuries.
Like with workers’ comp, they can receive compensation based on their medical bills from the injury and their lost income from time off work. However, employees working for nonsubscriber employers can also receive pain and suffering damages. These damages are not an option for employees covered by workers’ compensation.
No Liability Defenses
If an injured employee sues their nonsubscriber employer for negligence, there are certain common defenses the employer is not permitted to use. These prohibited defenses include the following.
Comparative negligence can prohibit a plaintiff from recovering compensation in a negligence claim if they were negligent as well or reduce the value of their claim.
A nonsubscriber employer cannot raise this defense in a negligence claim for a workplace injury. Thus, it does not matter that the injured employee was partially at fault for the incident. The injured employee can still recover compensation if they prove the employer was negligent.
Waiver of liability
Employees who sign a liability waiver with their nonsubscriber employer can still sue for negligence. Nonsubscriber employers are not permitted to use a liability waiver as a defense.
Assumption of risk
Assumption of risk is a legal defense often used by defendants in personal injury cases. If a victim knew what they were doing was risky but did it anyway, they “assumed the risk.” Nonsubscriber employers cannot use this defense. Even if the employee knew their task was dangerous, they can still sue.
Injured Employee Rights in Texas – Subscriber Employers
Employees that are covered by workers’ compensation are also entitled to a number of rights, including:
- The right to medical and wage replacement benefits,
- The right to independent counsel,
- The right to assistance from the Office of Injured Employee Counsel,
- The right to choose their physician, and
- The right to confidentiality.
Reach out to a work injury attorney today to learn more about whether your injury is covered by workers’ compensation or whether you have the right to pursue a personal injury claim against your employer.
What Is the Office of Injured Employee Counsel (OIEC)?
The OIEC is a state agency that helps injured employees if they have a workers’ compensation claim and are not represented by an attorney.
You can contact the OIEC via email at email@example.com or call (866) 393-6432. The central office and mailing addresses are:
Central office: 1601 Congress Avenue
Mailing address: PO Box 12876
What Is the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI)?
Armstrong, Lee, & Baker LLP Can Help
The rights of an employee in Texas depend on whether the employer is enrolled in a workers’ compensation program. The options can get complex. Contact our office today if you were injured at work and your employer does not subscribe to workers’ compensation.