As you likely already know, workers’ compensation is a type of business insurance that provides benefits to you if you sustain an on-the-job injury or develop a work-related illness. Each state has its own workers’ compensation laws, which vary from state to state.
For instance, some states, including North Dakota, Ohio, Washington, and Wyoming, require employers to participate in the state work comp insurance program. Other states, including Nevada, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and West Virginia, allow employers to carry private work comp coverage or to self-insure. Only Texas allows employers to completely opt out of providing work comp benefits to employees.
The Law in Texas
In Texas, an employer who opts out of workers’ compensation is called a “nonsubscriber.” If your employer is one of these, you can still recover damages for work-related injuries and illnesses by suing it directly. Unlike in a work comp claim, your employer cannot assert that you caused or contributed to your injuries or illness.
You can tell whether or not your employer is a nonsubscriber by checking your workplace bulletin board. Nonsubscribers are required by law to post a notice in an easily accessible area giving information as to what, if any, benefit program it has in place for injured workers and who to contact.
Self-insured Texas Employers
If your employer is self-insured, it can require you to do the following:
- See only pre-approved doctors and other health care professionals for assessment and treatment of your injury or illness
- Give recorded statements to claim investigators
- Waive your right to seek additional benefits after receiving treatment
- Refuse to pay you for any wages you lose as a result of your injury or illness
Even if your employer chooses to pay you a portion of your regular income, this likely will not be sufficient to cover your living expenses. In addition, your employer can stop making these payments to you at any time.
Obtaining Legal Representation
If you wish to sue your nonsubscriber employer for personal injury, you need the advice, counsel, and representation of an attorney experienced in these types of cases. He or she can guide you through the entire process and serve as your aggressive advocate in your claim for recovery of the economic and noneconomic damages your on-the-job injury or illness caused you.
Keep in mind that just because your employer chose to opt out of the workers’ compensation program, they still owe you a duty to provide a safe workplace. Consequently, an attorney, like a workers’ comp attorney from Polsky, Shouldice, & Rosen, P.C., can help you amass evidence that your employer acted negligently in this regard.