Can I Recover More than Workers’ Compensation Benefits If Injured on the Job in Texas?
If you have been injured on the job in Texas, you may be able to recover more than just your workers’ compensation benefits. Texas law allows you to bring litigation against third parties that share responsibility for you injuries.
How Does Workers’ Compensation Work?
Workers’ compensation is a benefits program employers provide to workers to pay for hospital and medical expenses associated with on the job injuries. Workers’ compensation also provides disability payments while an employee is unable to work.
While workers’ compensation does cover most injuries, even those caused by the employee’s own negligence, there or instances in which a workers’ compensation claim can be denied. These include:
- Self-inflicted injuries
- Injuries suffered while an employee is committing a crime
- Injuries sustained by an employee while not on a job
- Injuries suffered by an employee acting in a manner that violates company policy.
It is important to note, however, that workers’ compensation is optional in Texas, though employers who opt out of providing workers’ compensation do so at their own risk. The penalty for failing to provide workers’ compensation is that if the employer is determined to be even 1% at fault for an employee’s injuries, they are liable for all resulting damages.
What If am Already Receiving Workers’ Compensation? Can I Still Seek Additional Damages?
While workers’ compensation typically precludes an employee from filing an personal injury lawsuit, Texas law does allow the employee to sue any other parties involved in the accident. This can include manufacturers of potentially defective products or toxic substances, a co-worker who committed a negligent or reckless act, or a non-employee who contributed to your injuries.
Examples of such lawsuits include:
- A delivery truck driver suing a drunk driver who struck his company vehicle.
- A cable company installations employee suing an apartment complex after being electrocuted by poorly maintained wires.
- A truck driver suing the manufacturer of a defective tire following a blowout.
- A construction worker suing a property owner after being exposed to asbestos at a job site.
- A factory worker suing a co-worker who acted negligently while under the influence of a narcotic.
How Often Do Workplace Injuries Occur?
The follow statistics regarding on the job accident injuries and fatalities in 2015 are provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA):
- Approximately 2.9 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers.
- An estimated 752,600 injuries and illnesses were reported in 2015 among state and local government workers
- 4,836 workers died on the job
- This is the highest fatality total since 5,214 workers died in 2008.
- More than 13 workplace deaths occurred each day.
- Industries with the highest fatal work injury rates (per 100,000 full time workers):
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting — 22.8
- Transportation and warehousing — 13.8
- Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction — 11.4
- Construction — 10.1
- Overall rate of fatal work injury for workers — 3.38
- Top causes of fatal occupational injuries:
- Transportation incidents — 42.4%
- Falls, slips, and trips — 16.5%
- Contact with objects and equipment — 14.9%
- Violence and other injuries by persons or animals — 14.5%
- Exposure to harmful substances or environments — 8.8%
- Fires and explosions — 2.5%
- States with the highest number of fatal workplace injuries in 2015:
- Texas — 527
- California — 388
- Florida — 272
- New York — 236
- Ohio — 202
What Should I Do if I’ve Been Injured in a Workplace Accident?
If you have been injured in a workplace accident, there are a few things you can do to help secure workplace compensation as well as strengthen any claim to additional recoveries you may have.
- Seek medical attention. First and foremost, you should seek treatment for you injuries. Understanding the extent of you injuries is not only important to making a full recovery, but will also help you gauge how much that recovery is going to cost you. If you do not feel completely comfortable with the company doctor, go to your own physician for a second opinion.
- Report your injury. Workplace injuries need to be reported in a timely manner. Also, keep you supervisor or manager up-to-date on any subsequent developments. If your doctor has diagnosed an injury that was not immediately evident at the time of your initial report, let your supervisor know.
- Get a written repot of the accident. Your employer must take a report of the accident. You are entitled to a copy as well. Do not let your employer deny you a physical copy of your report for your own records.
- Identify witnesses. If someone witnessed your accident, get their information. You may need to refer back to their account of the incident later.
- Take photos. Take photos of the area, including any tools or equipment that may have played a role in the accident.
- Write an account. You will likely be asked to make statements about you claim multiple times. Having a detailed account that was written while the accident was still fresh in your mind can help keep your statements concise and accurate.
- Contact an attorney. Even if you plan on going through workers’ compensation, contacting an experienced attorney can help ensure you are receiving a fair amount. Thomas J. Henry offers free consultations to all injured victims. Our attorneys are available 24/7 – seven days a week.