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Texas Workers’ Compensation: FAQ

Employees in Texas work hard, fueling the state’s economy and keeping the wheels of the state’s industries turning. But this hard work brings risks. Whether it’s as an aerospace specialist in Houston or as an agricultural worker in Amarillo, workers regularly expose themselves to the risk of illness and injury during their employment.

Workers’ compensation laws in Texas regulate what happens when disaster strikes and a worker is injured at work. They set rules on workers’ compensation insurance, and lay out what benefits an employee could claim after an accident.

What is workers’ compensation insurance?

In Texas, employers are able to choose whether to take out workers’ compensation insurance, which covers workers’ compensation payments after an employee is injured at work. If an employer chooses not to have coverage, they must tell their employees.

When an employee receives workers’ compensation benefits, they will not be able to sue the employer for damages for their work-related injury. If a Texas employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance, workers can still sue for damages related to a workplace-accident.

What does workers’ compensation cover?

Workers’ compensation covers injuries and illnesses that a worker suffers as a direct result of their employment. This can include where an employee is working on an employer’s property, and when they are elsewhere in the context of their work.

Workers’ compensation covers injuries without considering who was at fault for the accident (including the worker themselves), but does not cover injuries where the worker was off-duty, or was working while intoxicated through alcohol or drug-use.

Workers’ compensation benefits

Workers’ compensation payments can cover:

  • Expenses related to medical care and treatment
  • Benefits to offset wages lost while injured
  • Death benefits if an employee dies in a workplace accident
  • Vocational rehabilitation benefits, supporting retraining if an employee is unable to work in their previous role

If a worker does not fully recover from their injury or illness, workers’ compensation benefits could compensate for their long-term lost earnings. This includes where they might return to work, but with a reduced ability to earn their previous wages.

Workers’ compensation claims process

Workers should be aware of a few important deadlines in the workers’ compensation process:

  • An employee must inform their employer of an injury within 30 days of it happening. If they have an occupational disease, they should give notice within 30 days of being aware that the injury or illness could be related to their job.
  • The employee must file a claim for compensation within one year of their injury or illness.

After sustaining an injury or suffering an illness, a worker will need to be examined by a doctor appointed by the insurance carrier. This doctor will provide a report on the extent of the injuries sustained by the employee.

Texas law sets timelines for the payment of workers’ compensation benefits, although delays can happen if an insurance company challenges an employee’s claim. Consulting with an attorney specialized in workers’ comp is often advisable to ensure your rights are respected during this process.

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