Lewis Coppedge, P.C.
Injury at Work
Work-related injuries can include any kind of hurt caused by your work. That commonly includes back pain, spine injuries like herniated or ruptured discs, cuts and gashes that need stitches, hand damage and carpal tunnel syndrome, head wounds, brain trauma including concussions, broken bones, mangled, crushed, or amputated limbs, serious health conditions from exposure to toxic substances on the job, and even death. Lewis Coppedge has helped injured workers receive financial compensation for their pain and suffering, mental anguish, past and future medical expenses, loss of present and future wages, disfigurement, disability, and more.
What should I do if I get injured at work?
There are two things you need to do immediately if you are injured at work: 1) Get medical treatment, and 2) Report the incident to your employer and your boss.
When you report your injuries, make sure you tell the right person because some companies have a specific person who receives that information. And you also need to tell your boss about the incident and your injuries. Be sure to give details. You need to be very careful to report your workplace injury ASAP because if you don’t report it immediately, your employer might deny your claim and you won’t get any benefits. This reporting needs to include all necessary paperwork, statements, and forms. Attention to detail here is important. Get help if you can’t fill it out on your own. Quick and exact is key.
If I get hurt at work, will my employer pay me for that injury?
NOT NECESSARILY! Texas law may surprise you because Texas Employers are NOT required to buy Texas Worker’s Compensation Insurance. Many Texas businesses choose not to buy Worker’s Comp. Insurance, so many Texas workers who are hurt on the job do NOT receive any compensation for those injuries. This can be an extremely bad situation for the injured employee.
When a Texas company does have Texas Worker’s Compensation Insurance, you must follow many rules and meet some very important deadlines. Employers without Texas Worker’s Compensation Insurance follow a very different set of laws. If you are hurt on the job, it is very important for you to find out if your employer has Texas Worker’s Compensation Insurance.
What difference does it make if my employer has Texas Worker’s Compensation Insurance?
It makes a big difference. If your company has Texas Worker’s Compensation Insurance, that means the Texas Worker’s Compensation Act (“TWCA”) controls your claim. The TWCA has many complex rules. If you were injured during the “course and scope” of your job, that means your employer’s Texas Worker’s Compensation insurance company must pay for your:
1) reasonable medical care required to treat your injury for the rest of your life,
2) temporary income benefits (loss of wages) if they apply, and
3) disability benefits (if you qualify).
Texas Worker’s Compensation benefits can be difficult to get. You have to jump through several hoops, and the rules can be very tricky and frustrating. There is a good side. Texas Worker’s Compensation is a “no-fault” system, so even if your on-the-job injury is your own fault, your employer’s Texas Worker’s Compensation Insurance will still pay for your medical treatment, and perhaps more.
Unfortunately, Texas Worker’s Compensation benefits are limited by the law, so you might not get as much as you think you should for your workplace injuries. Texas Worker’s Compensation is also an “exclusive remedy” system, so in most TWCA cases, you get your TWCA benefits, but you cannot sue your employer for any more money, no matter how badly you were hurt.
What if my employer does not have Texas Worker’s Compensation Insurance?
Then your employer is called a “Nonsubscriber.” The rules for workplace injuries are very different for Nonsubscribers. First, Nonsubscribers are not in a “no fault” system, so it matters who is at fault for your work related injury. You cannot get paid damages from your Nonsubscriber employer if you are completely at fault. For you to receive ANY compensation for your workplace injuries, your employer has to have done something wrong to at least partially cause your injuries.
Your employer does not have to have been the only cause of your injuries. If they are only partly responsible, say one percent (1%), then they must pay for all the damages caused by your injury. You must prove that your employer did something wrong that caused your injuries, like failing to train you properly. Or failing to give you the proper equipment or help. Or they might have failed to have good safety programs. Or maybe they did not give you the necessary supervision. They need to have failed at something that in part caused your injury.
The damages in Nonsubscriber claims are not limited by the Texas Worker’s Compensation Act. That means you can sue your Nonsubscriber employer for all the damages caused by whatever they did wrong. You can recover the full amount of your injuries, not just the amount allowable under the Texas Worker’s Compensation Act.
What are my employer’s responsibilities?
Employers have many duties for avoiding work-related injuries. They are not always at fault for all on the job injuries. Their duties can start long before a work-related injury happens. One duty is to help workers avoid work-related injuries. They have to provide a safe workplace and keep the workspace safe. They must warn workers of likely risks at work. They have to give appropriate safety training in a language the worker knows. The law does not make Texas employers buy Texas Worker’s Compensation Insurance. In fact, some do not buy any kind of insurance for work-related injuries. Some employers buy “Nonsubscriber policies” for workplace injuries. Those “Nonsubscriber policies” may provide benefits that are similar to Texas Worker’s Compensation benefits, but there are some very important differences. It is important that you know what kind of workplace injury insurance your employer has, or doesn’t have. The legal differences are critical.
Do I need a lawyer for injuries at work?
Almost always. If your injury required medical care, will require medical attention in the future, caused you any physical pain or mental anguish, or you missed any time from work, you definitely need a lawyer to make sure you receive full compensation for all your injuries. You should definitely consult a lawyer if you have any serious work-related injury. You need to know your rights and where you stand. You need to know the type, if any, of insurance your employer has. You need to make sure you receive proper and thorough medical care. You need to know your rights for lost wages. Can you get wages for any time missed at work? What if your injuries don’t heal quickly? What if they never heal completely? You may be able to get money for pain, suffering, disfigurement and ongoing disabilities. Each of these questions can be complicated and hard to figure out, so you want a lawyer with lots of experience in handling workplace injury claims. Lewis Coppedge has been handling workplace injury cases in Texas for over over thirty (30) years.
If you let them, insurance companies often deny or underpay workplace injury claims. They will deny that the injury is work-related. They will argue about how bad your injury is. They will say your injury was pre-existing (happened long ago). They may also drag out the claims process. Any paperwork problem or missed deadline may lead to a nasty legal fight. You need to make sure that all aspects of handling your claims are done right. Having the right lawyer on your side gives you the edge. You don’t want to fight these hard and complex battles alone. They can be frustrating. You want someone to fight for you. You need someone to have your back. Lewis Coppedge is that kind of advocate for people with serious workplace injuries.
How long do I have to sue for a work-related injury?
It depends. Acting fast helps your chances of a good outcome. Most Nonsubscriber injury suits must be filed no later than two (2) years from the date of the injury. Texas Worker’s Compensation cases can be different. It can take weeks or months to do the necessary investigation and research before your lawsuit can be filed.
If you are seriously injured at work, you need an experienced workplace injury lawyer like Lewis Coppedge on your side. Free initial consultations are available.