Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) April 8, 2014 – For those employed on jobsites in Texas, it is vital to understand how workers’ compensation operates.
“It’s important for workers to know that the workers’ compensation system in Texas allows employers to offer medical benefits and lost earnings to a worker involved in a jobsite accident,” explains Austin workplace injury lawyer, Brooks Schuelke of Perlmutter & Schuelke, LLP.
Some Texas employers maintain insurance that covers the costs of work-related accidents, insurance which limits an employer’s liability if a worker files a lawsuit seeking damages for personal injuries. However, in the Lone Star State, employers may choose whether or not they want to carry workers’ compensation coverage.
If employers do not carry coverage, they must report their non-covered status, employment-related illnesses, on-the-job injuries and deaths to the Texas Department of Insurance. “Failure to do so is regarded as an administrative violation which may incur serious penalties. If an employer does not subscribe to workers’ compensation, they must also inform their workers that they do not offer coverage by way of a Notice 5 posting,” says Schuelke.
The main difference between a non-insured employer and an insured employer is liability. An example would be that employers who do not have insurance are not protected by the exclusive remedy doctrine. The exclusive remedy doctrine offers a limited number of benefits to an injured worker but the protection is offered in exchange for capped legal responsibility, which excludes most negligence claims.
“Companies without coverage may be mandated to pay punitive damages if they lose a case in court and they may also lose the right to use common-law defenses,” points out Schuelke. They may not be able to assert negligence of other workers, a worker’s own negligence resulting in an injury at work, or that the injured employee knew about a hazard but accepted the danger by ignoring it. “Thus if a company is negligent and non-insured, they could well be financially responsible for a worker’s injuries.”
Injured workers in Texas have specific recovery rights, but the legal options to trigger that process may differ according to a what insurance status a company has. “If you have questions about a workplace injury, call my office. I am here to help you,” says Schuelke.
Perlmutter & Schuelke, PLLC
206 East 9th Street, Ste. 1511
Austin, TX 78701
Call (512) 476-4944
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