Houston Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Houston Work Accidents, Injuries, & Workers’ Compensation Claims
Our Houston Texas attorneys have won hundreds of work injury cases. Call us today to discuss your case.
If you need help recovering under your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy you need an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. Our lawyers are here to assist. You need to first understand the workers’ compensation that you are entitled to and the process of filing a claim to recover under this form of state regulated insurance plan.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Virtually every person is familiar with the term workers compensation but few understand that it is actually a system rather than just an abstract type of benefit. The system works as follows; a company chooses to buy into the workers compensation program that is run by the Texas Department of Insurance and they purchase insurance through a state-sanctioned private insurance carrier. As you can imagine this quasi state-run and quasi-private system is wrought with both the problems of the public sector and the private sector.
Why Your Employer Like’s Workers’ Compensation Coverage
You employer likes workers’ compensation coverage because by buying into it, they are immune to a lawsuit related to your injury. The only recourse that you are left with is to pursue the workers’ compensation claim through an administrative process that will be decided by the state. You will basically have to enter into an administrative dispute resolution process that will involve hearings and reviews by a three-judge appeals panel. This entity was created for those situations when disputes over workers’ compensation claims could not be resolved informally.
The other reason why employers like workers’ compensation is ultimately because the benefits you can receive are much less than what you would receive in a negligence case. They are happy because the amount they have to pay in premiums is relatively low and they are essentially bullet proof in terms of liability.
Why you Like Workers’ Compensation
In workers compensation cases you theoretically do not have to dispute whether or not you are covered. Virtually the simple fact that you are on the job and injured means that the workers compensation insurance company will have to pay you some benefits. So in other words there is almost guaranteed coverage.
Concerns/Issues With Workers’ Compensation
If your employer subscribes to workers compensation as we just stated, you get guaranteed coverage. This begs the question, why does anyone need a workers’ compensation lawyer and why do they have hearings?
The reason for hiring an attorney is because, even though the law clearly states you are entitled to guaranteed workers’ compensation benefits if you are within the course and scope of your employment, the employer does not have to cover you if they think you were horse-playing, doing something outside of your normal work duties, or under the influence of any type of intoxicating substance. As you can imagine, these are all vague concepts and many workers are denied simply because the employer will state that the accident was the fault of someone else and therefore you should take up your grievances with them.
To illustrate, imagine you are a machinist and you injure our hand on the job. Clearly workers compensation should apply to you. However in some cases they will say that it was because of a fault in the machinery. Basically they will attempt to deflect your claims by stating that you should file a claim against the manufacturer of the product and not against them.
Additionally a lot of employers take liberties with interpreting what does and does not constitute normal job functions. Many of the clients that have called us have been injured on the job while helping another employee and the employer tried to argue that the conduct leading to the injury was not a job duty and therefore they were not covered.
Additionally, workers compensation insurance carriers make all of the decisions in your case, not your employer – so even your insurance carrier may attempt to deny your claim for coverage. The main way they can limit your ability to receive compensation is not by disputing that you are not covered, but by downplaying your injuries. A doctor would say you need surgery but someone working for your workers compensation insurance carrier would say that you need physical therapy.
What a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Can do For You
A workers compensation lawyer will appear on your behalf in any administrative hearings to decide benefits and will work to make you get the full amount of benefits that you should receive. Most importantly, a workers compensation lawyer will fight to see that your impairment rating is accurate.
What is an Impairment Rating and How Does it Work?
If you have sustained injuries and will likely have long-term effects, you may be eligible to receive a lump sum payout at the completion of your case. The amount that you are paid is based on your maximal medical improvement rating, otherwise known as an impairment rating. It is an appraisal of the nature and extent of your injury and how much it affects your ability to perform your job. For every one percentage point of impairment you have you will be paid some quantity of money. For every one percent of impairment you receive approximately three weeks of pay.
Therefore, the more accurately your impairment rating is, the more money you will receive. In order to maximize the amount of money that you can potentially be rewarded it is so important that you have an attorney representing you in your workers’ compensation claim. You should not be injured on the job under any circumstances and in the event that you do, your employer should be held financially responsible for any ensuing injuries. If you believe that you have a potential workers’ compensation claim, contact an experienced attorney at our Law Office for a free consultation.
What is the Effect of Workers’ Compensation on my Personal Injury Case?
Our Houston, Texas attorneys have won hundreds of work injury cases. Call us today to discuss your case.
If you are injured on the job, there are two paths you can possibly take regarding seeking compensation for your injuries. Sometimes, you may be able to take both paths regarding the same injury.
An old-fashioned personal injury lawsuit against the people and companies responsible for your injury. You sue the people who hurt you with the goal of getting financial compensation for your injuries, medical bills, pain, disfigurement, lost wages, etc. Issues often include the other parties’ conduct and their insurance policy limits. Recovery in personal injury cases is generally much higher than in workers’ comp cases. To bring a personal injury case, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer like the ones from our Law Office.
A workers’ comp claim
If your employer carries Texas Workers’ Compensation insurance – if your employer “subscribes” to workers’ comp in Texas – you can file a workers’ comp claim and it doesn’t matter who is at fault. Workers’ comp is a no-fault system in Texas. If you file a claim, you potentially recover a fraction of your monthly salary while you are unfit to work. The problem: workers who bring workers’ comp claims normally recover much less than workers who bring personal injury lawsuits.
In the past, Texas was a very friendly state for blue-collar workers. Before the discovery of major oil reserves in Texas the state was filled almost exclusively with working class farmers and ranchers who were very open-minded and protective of workers’ rights. These people took care of working class men and women like themselves whenever possible. The discovery of oil changed all that forever. Big business moved into the state and with that move came all the changes Texas politics has seen over the past 50 years. As of 2012, there are nine justices on the Texas Supreme Court, and all nine of them are registered members of the same major conservative political party.
One major change in Texas politics: the Texas workers’ compensation system. The Texas workers’ comp system used to be worker friendly, as it should be. It was an independent body. Three commissioners had the final say on policy matters, and one of those commissioners represented organized labor. But in 1995 the corporation-friendly Texas governor changed things. The Division of Workers’ Compensation is now a division of the Texas Department of Insurance and headed by only one commissioner, who is notoriously cozy with insurance companies.
If your employer does not subscribe to the workers’ compensation program in Texas and you are injured on the job, you can bring a personal injury claim against your employer and everyone else responsible for injuring you. If your employer does subscribe to the workers’ compensation program in Texas and you are injured on the job you cannot also bring a personal injury case based on your injury. However, many exceptions to this exist.
If you are injured on the job due to the negligence of a company you do not work for, you can still bring an old-fashioned lawsuit against the negligent company as well as a workers’ compensation claim. For example, an air conditioning company is at your office testing and fixing the air conditioning system. You are injured when one of the air conditioning company’s ladders falls on your head. You can sue the air conditioning company, whether your employer subscribes to workers’ comp or not. You can also potentially bring a workers’ compensation claim against your employer too.
Another example: you are working on the floor of the production area at your plant. A water deliveryman negligently injures you by allowing a five-gallon water bottle to roll into your knee at high speed. You tear your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and require surgery and rehabilitation. Both the water company and the driver are responsible for your injury. You can sue both the water company itself and the delivery driver personally. And, again, you can bring a workers’ compensation claim against your own employer assuming your employer carries workers comp insurance.
Personal injury suits and workers compensation claims form a murky area of the law. The cases are highly fact sensitive, and each one is different. The one thing that is clear: if you are injured on the job, you need professional and proven legal advice. Get that advice from our Law Office. We are experienced personal injury lawyers with a long track record of making sense of these complicated issues. Call us today with any questions you have about work injuries.
Workers’ Compensation in Texas vs Other States
Texas Law Regarding Workers’ Compensation and How They are Different From Other States
Workers’ compensation is an insurance program that is regulated by the state of Texas that will pay for medical expenses, lost wages and other damages if an employee is injured at work. Basically, if you have some injury that is work-related and the company you work for has chosen to subscribe to this type of insurance then you will be able to be compensated for your losses via a workers’ compensation claim. Texas is the only state that permits employers to choose whether they want to subscribe to workers’ compensation. These laws are complex and difficult to sift through if you are not experienced with their intended legal effect. This is why it is in your best interests to retain an attorney such as those at our Law Office to guide your claim along and make sure that you are compensated accordingly.
Why is Texas the Only State That allows you to Decide Whether to Subscribe to Workers’ Compensation?
Texas has chosen to continue to allow employers to determine whether or not they would rather enter into a state regulated insurance program or choose to privately insure themselves. This is abnormal because as stated above Texas is the only state that maintains this option for employers. The justification for this is because it was determined that to prohibit employers from deciding whether or not to opt into a state regulated insurance program would essentially deprive employers of their due process rights. However, there were some modifications to the law in 1917 and the legislature determined that if the employer is a governmental organization then they must provide workers compensation. In addition, if the employer happens to enter into a construction contract with a governmental entity then they too must provide their employers with workers compensation. There were additional major reforms and changes made in 2005, along with a piece of legislation entitled House Bill 7. Therefore, it is evident that there appears to be movements in the legal world to modify workers’ compensation laws.
How Do Other States Workers’ Compensation Laws Compare to Texas?
Obviously the major difference between other state workers’ compensation laws and Texas is the requirement that companies have state workers’ compensation in every other state which Texas does not have. In the neighboring state of Louisiana, a failure to comply with any of the statutes under the Workers’ Compensation act will result in a fine that is not to be in excess of $500. Unless you are a governmental entity in Texas or you have entered into a construction contract with a governmental entity in the state of Texas then there would be no grounds for an employer to be penalized for a failure to follow workers’ compensation laws as they have the opportunity to opt-out of this type of insurance. In addition, in the state of Texas if the employer has chosen to subscribe to workers’ compensation then the employer must notify the insurance agency within eight days of the knowledge of such injury. Comparatively, in Louisiana there is a 10-day window. Therefore, there are apparent differences. The primary difference however is still the fact that in Texas you have the choice as an employer.
The workers’ compensation claim process has many criteria that must be met to ensure that you are reimbursed. Furthermore, if the employer was guilty of some intentional act or gross negligence that resulted in your injury then you may recover beyond what is permitted by the workers’ compensation laws. If you have suffered an injury at the workplace and you are in need of compensation for your injury, you need an attorney that has experience handling workers’ compensation claims. They can be complex and oftentimes do not provide you with the amount of recovery that you need. They attorneys at our Law Office are familiar with these laws and have handled cases just like this in the past. If you would like to discuss the specifics of your potential lawsuit call us.
3rd Party Liability in a Workers’ Comp Case
Your Employer is Not the Only Party Who May be Liable in a Workers’ Compensation Injury Case
If your employer is a subscriber to workers’ compensation and you are injured while on the job but by someone other than your employer or a co-worker, you may have a third party liability claim. Since you were injured on the job, of course, you have a workers’ compensation claim; but you also have a third party liability claim as well. This article will explain how your third party claim can be determined and handled along with your workers’ compensation claim.
How Does a Third Party Liability Claim Arise?
Imagine you are a furniture delivery person working for Al’s furniture, and they subscribe to workers’ compensation. While on a delivery, at a house you trip over a toy left on the floor by one of the homeowner’s kids and fall and break your collarbone. Since you are on the job and acting within the scope of your employment, Al’s Furniture’s workers’ compensation would cover some of the costs associated with the injury. However, it will not pay for all damages, so you can sue homeowner under a premises liability cause of action and pursue them for the entirety of your damages.
What Damages Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?
Workers’ compensation will pay for 70% of your lost wages. Lost wages are the amount of money that you are not able to get as salary from you job because of your injury. However, payment for lost wages does not kick in until you have been off of work for seven days.
Workers’ compensation will also pay for medical bills. It pays for the full amount of medical expenses related to the injury and will pay as soon as the medical expense becomes necessary. For example if you need surgery, workers’ compensation will pay for the full costs of the surgery as soon as it is needed.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Not Pay For?
Workers’ compensation does not cover the total cost of lost wages, only 70%, and also does not cover damages like mental anguish, pain and suffering, or loss of future earning capacity. However, a third party may be liable for the entirety of your damages, including those damages not covered by workers’ compensation. So if you are injured on the job and a third party is liable for your injuries, you may be able to sue the third party to recover the damages you cannot receive under workers’ compensation.
Do I Sue The Third Party For The Difference?
Technically speaking, workers’ compensation will pay for their portion of your damages, lost wages and medical expenses. You then sue the third party for all of you damages, even the portion that workers’ compensation has paid for. However there is no double dipping, and you pay workers’ compensation back the amount it paid to you, like a loan.
For instance, in the above Al’s Furniture example, say that workers’ compensation pays you $100,000 for surgery to fix your broken collarbone and $25,000 for lost wages. You then sue the homeowner and are awarded $300,000 by a jury. In this scenario, you would have to pay the $125,000 back to the workers’ compensation and would be able to keep the rest.
You Need An Experienced Attorney to Handle Your Third Party Claim.
Our Law Offices has over twenty years of experience and has dealt with hundreds of workers’ compensation cases and third party liability cases. Our attorneys know the ins and outs of these types of cases and have experience holding those responsible for workplace injuries accountable for their actions.
If you were injured in a workplace accident call today for a free consultation.
Houston Personal Injury Lawyers » Workers’ Compensation Fatality Cases
How Wrongful Death Cases Function in Conjunction with Workers’ Compensation
If you lost a loved one due to a work-related accident, then you might be entitled to receive compensation. Before you file anything or make any decisions, speak with an attorney to discuss your rights.
Overview of Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a state-run insurance program that provides compensation for workers who have been injured on the job. Employers are not required to carry workers’ compensation, but many do. Employers that cover workers’ compensation are considered subscribers because they have subscribed to it.
Obstacles of Workers’ Compensation?
There are several obstacles to filing a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation will only provide just enough compensation for the burial and funeral expenses and maybe medical expenses that you incurred. If the employer subscribers to workers compensation then by default the family is barred by ordinary negligence but workers comp does not protect the employer from gross negligence. If you intend to sue the employer, the you must show gross negligence from the employer. Then beyond that when you file a lawsuit, then you are suing for punitive damages. The standard to show punitive damages is the misconduct is so egregious that it shocks the conscience.
So, think about this for a moment. If you file a workers’ compensation claim to receive benefits from the death of your loved one. Your loved one was the breadwinner in your family and all you receive is funeral and burial expenses. You might even receive a few other expenses to cover some things, but what about the bills, groceries and other quality of life situations that need to be paid? What about the pain and suffering that you are going through because your loved one is gone? What about the relationship that you and your loved one shared that you will never get back? What about the future income that they would have received if still alive.
Do you believe that this is fair? Your loved one died as a result of the employer’s misconduct and now you will only receive peanuts for your loss. The best answer for these questions is to hire an experienced attorney who is qualified in workers’ compensation cases that can file a wrongful death claim.
Overview of Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action that can be brought against an employer for the death of your loved one. A surviving family member will bring a wrongful death claim to receive compensation for their loss.
To prevail in a wrongful death claim you must the parent, child, or spouse of the deceased. You must show that the employer caused the death of your loved one and the employer’s actions were intentional and knowingly. For instance, the employer did not provide appropriate safety equipment which created a dangerous workplace environment.
Our Law Office has been representing clients in the Houston area. Our attorneys have over 20 years of experience and provide the best legal services that you deserve. To learn more about workers’ compensation claims and wrongful death claims contact our experienced attorneys today. Our attorneys will be able to assist you with your matter. Call us.