In almost every state, the law requires employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This means that if you are injured, you will have your medical bills and wages paid if you cannot work. In most of these states, it does not matter how the injury happened, even if it’s the employee’s fault. The worker still gets paid. But Texas is different.
Under Texas law, employers do not have to purchase workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. The law says that employers do not have to “subscribe” to workers’ compensation insurance. The employers who take advantage of this law are called “non-subscriber” employers.
Many of Texas’s largest employers—such as Walmart, Home Depot, Amazon, and Target—do not carry, or “subscribe to,” workers’ compensation insurance. If you work for a non-subscriber employer and are injured at work, your case is commonly called a non-subscriber case.
You may be wondering what non-subscriber workers’ compensation looks like. Many non-subscriber employers carry some form of insurance that takes the place of workers’ compensation insurance. But it’s usually not the same and does not have the same protections.
This is why it is important to contact a law firm that focuses its practice on representing seriously injured workers. The law firm of Armstrong, Lee & Baker LLP has been fighting for the rights of injured workers for many years. Our non-subscriber lawyers are here waiting to fight for your rights to receive the compensation you deserve.
How Non-Subscriber Cases Are Different
With a basic Texas workers’ compensation injury, the worker is entitled to medical benefits and wage loss benefits if the injury prevents them from working. It does not matter if the employee was at fault and caused the injury.
Additionally, if the employer was somehow negligent and caused the worker to be injured, the employee cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against the employer for that negligence. The employer is shielded from negligence lawsuits as long as they agree to provide workers’ compensation coverage under Texas law.
In contrast, non-subscriber work injury cases do not have this lawsuit protection, and employees can file actual lawsuits against their employers to prove that they were the cause of the injuries. Unlike a regular workers’ compensation case, where the only recovery is medical and wage benefits, under a non-subscriber case, an injured worker can also win pain and suffering damages.
This is the risk that non-subscriber employers take by not “subscribing” to the regular Texas workers’ compensation system.
Non-Subscriber Cases Are Similar to Other Negligence Cases
Non-subscriber cases are similar to other negligence cases, such as car and truck collisions, slip and falls, and defective products. If you can prove that the employer was negligent and violated a duty of care to the employee, and that the violation was the actual cause of the injury, then the employee can file a lawsuit (just like a car accident lawsuit) against their employer and seek more damages.
Non-subscriber cases are more beneficial to the employee than a regular negligence case because the law prohibits an employer from arguing defenses to the case that other defendants can make. An experienced non-subscriber attorney can help you work out the contours of your case to increase your chances of getting the compensation you deserve.
Prohibited Defenses for Non-Subscribers Under Texas Law
Texas law makes it much more difficult for non-subscriber employers because, ultimately, the state of Texas wants its employers to have normal workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. The law is structured so that employers cannot use the normal defenses that a defendant can use in a regular negligence case.
Here are the defenses that are not allowed to be used by non-subscriber employers:
- Contributory negligence—A non-subscriber employer cannot use the defense that the employee contributed to their own injury to offset the employer’s liability. Even if the employee was mostly at fault for their own work injury, as long as it can be shown that the employer was partly at fault, then the employer is responsible for the damages.
- Assumption of the risk—The “assumption of the risk” argument is used when the injured plaintiff knew that the activity was risky and proceeded anyway. In a non-subscriber case, the employer cannot use this against the injured employee, even if it was clear that the employee knew there was a risk of injury when they proceeded with the work activity.
- Pre-injury waiver of liability: A waiver of liability is often signed by individuals who participate in certain risky activities. For example, oftentimes you would have to sign a waiver if you engage in some kind of sport such as skiing or racetrack racing. If you sign a waiver and then get injured, you typically would not be able to sue anyone, even if they were negligent. Non-subscriber employers cannot use this defense for injured workers.
However, a post-injury waiver is a valid defense that can be used. For example, if a worker was injured and the employer offered the employee a sum of money to sign a waiver, this would prevent the worker from filing a lawsuit.
What Benefits Are Non-Subscribers Liable For?
The Texas non-subscriber law does not require non-subscriber employers to do anything for their injured employees. They can, if they so choose, provide certain benefits such as medical and wage loss benefits.
Although some non-subscriber employers have insurance policies that are similar to workers’ compensation policies to provide some money to injured workers, the injured worker would still be able to file a lawsuit against their employer. Some work injuries are minor and require minimal treatment and only a small amount of time off work.
If the non-subscriber employer agrees to take care of the medical bills and pay the employee the lost wages, then most of the time, no further action is taken. However, other work injuries are significant and may result in the employee becoming permanently disabled or the loss of life due to the work accident.
The damages an injured worker can recover in a non-subscriber lawsuit are:
- Medical bills in the past and that are likely to be incurred in the future,
- Mental anguish and pain and suffering,
- Impairment and disfigurement
- Past lost wages and future lost earning potential, and
- Punitive damages.
These cases can become very complicated and difficult to win. That is why it is in the best interest of an employee to hire a law firm that focuses its practice on representing injured workers and fighting for their rights.
The Texas Non-Subscriber Injury Lawyers at Armstrong, Lee & Baker LLP Fight for the Rights of Injured Workers
If you have been seriously injured in a work accident and your employer is a non-subscriber and does not have workers’ compensation insurance coverage, you may have questions as to how you will get the benefits you deserve. Contact the Texas non-subscriber injury lawyers at Armstrong, Lee & Baker LLP today to get the help you deserve. Please contact us online or call us for a free consultation at 832-532-1902.