Workers' Compensation Law

Texas Workers' Compensation Laws

From Abbott to Zunkerville, Texas is chock-full of honest and hardworking folks. You get up each morning ready to do what needs to get done to provide for your family. Unfortunately, whether you wash cars or wait tables at the local diner, the Lone Star State is not the most ideal location to suffer a workplace injury. If you are hurt at work, your employer generally has the option of whether to compensate you for lost wages and medical costs under Texas workers’ compensation laws.

First and foremost, Texas law only requires public employers to carry workers’ comp insurance. If your employer has chosen not to carry workers’ comp insurance, they must notify you of their lack of coverage when you are hired. However, you may file a personal injury claim if your employer lacks coverage and you suffer a workplace injury (instead of filing a workers’ comp claim).

What Texas Law Says

As noted above, Texas employers are not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. But those that do are required to cover undocumented immigrants (Sec. 401.011) and most domestic workers. Here is a breakdown of the law in Texas.

Types of Benefits Offered:

  • Medical benefits: Coverage for all reasonable health care provided or recommended by employee’s treating doctor (Sec. 408.021).
  • Income benefits: Payments equal to a percentage of average weekly wages lost as a result of temporary (Sec. 408.103) or permanent disability, subject to weekly maximums and minimums (Sec. 408.041, Sec. 408.061).
  • Vocational rehabilitation: Benefits to help find alternative employment if employee cannot return to previous job (Sec. 409.012, Sec. 408.150).
  • Death benefits: Payments equal to 75% of employee’s average weekly wage paid to legal beneficiaries (Sec. 408.181 et seq.); up to $10,000 in burial expenses if employee dies from work-related injury or illness (Sec. 408.186).

Employer Rights and Obligations:

  • Except for public employers, employers may choose whether to obtain workers’ compensation (Sec. 406.002).
  • Must inform employees and Division of Workers’ Compensation if employer does not have worker’s comp (Sec. 406.004, Sec. 406.005).
  • Must submit report to insurance carrier within 8 days of notice of the injury (Sec. 409.005).
  • May require employee to submit to medical examination (Sec. 408.004 et seq.).

Additional Details:

  • Coverage for heart attacks is limited; if the heart attack is caused by emotional or mental stress, only sudden stress is covered (Sec. 408.008).
  • Mental illnesses or injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic anxiety disorder are not covered if they stem mostly from a good faith employment action (Sec. 408.006).

Read the full text of Texas statutes for additional details.

I Was Injured on the Job: What Next?

To receive workers’ comp benefits, you must notify your employer within 30 days of the date of your injury or the date you first realized that your injury or illness might be work-related. Even if you are already getting benefits from your employer, you must also file a completed claim form (TWCC41) to keep getting benefits. You must file this form within 1 year of either the date you got hurt or the date you realized the reason you were sick was because of your job.

Beginning the second you get hurt, your employer must pay for all reasonable health care expenses. Once your injury has kept you from working for seven days, your employer’s workers’ comp will pay you wage replacement benefits beginning on the eighth day.

If your disability keeps you from working for more than two weeks, you will retroactively receive wage replacement benefits for the first week of your disability. If your disability keeps you from returning to your old job even after your recovery, Texas offers vocational rehabilitation to help you find a new job. Finally, if your loved one died due to an accident at work or an occupational disease, Texas offers death benefits including $10,000 in burial expenses.

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