Workers’ Compensation is a concept that most employees and companies across the country don’t have the opportunity to even have a second thought about. It is defined by Wikipedia as a form providing wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured in the course of employment in exchange for mandatory relinquishment of the employee’s right to sue their employer for the tort of negligence. In laymen’s terms, workers compensation was created to protect employees should they be injured on the job. Currently, 49 out of the 50 states in our country require a workers’ compensation policy; however, Texas now gives employers the option to opt out and the repercussions are being felt throughout various industries.
In the state of Texas, companies are allowed to instantly opt of workers’ compensation insurance and are able to instead incorporate their own rules. While this has saved many companies thousands of dollars each year, it has left several employees who have been injured on the job with loads of medical bills they are unable to afford. The most devastating part? With all the new hire paperwork that employees are forced to fill out during orientation, most workers have no idea that they’ve waived their rights to workers’ compensation.
Workers Compensation was built several years ago based on a pact that stated that companies would provide government regulated injury benefits and in return workers had to agree not to sue. In response to this pact, many companies have decided to build their own alternative plans to workers’ compensation because they felt it would be more cost efficient to simply just deal with the law suits as they come which has unfortunately put several injured workers in a bind. According to statistics, it is estimated that 6 out of 10 injured employees who could sue don’t simply because they don’t know they can. In rare cases that employees do sue and win, the compensation received is not nearly enough money to even cover doctor’s or attorney bills.
Currently, Texas is home to some of the largest corporations in the country and many employees don’t even realize they aren’t covered under workplace injuries laws until it’s too late. This on numerous occasions has left many employees scrambling for aid and ultimately the burden of the injured employee suddenly shifts from the company to the government. A Texas lawyer reported that many of his clients come into his office after injury in desperation for government housing, food stamps and a host of other benefits simply because they feel they are all out of options with no workers’ compensation. While the options are few, there are precise actions that can be taken alongside your workers’ compensation lawyer.
Injured employees (and not just those in Texas) who don’t carry valid worker’s compensation coverage have a viable opportunity to file a civil lawsuit against the employer in which he or she has been injured. Filing a civil law suit could have uninsured employers paying a significant amount in damages to cover not only employee losses but medical bills, future lost earnings and pain and suffering. Under workers compensation, pain and suffering is often limited making a civil lawsuit not only the best option for injured employees but the most lucrative.
Wondering what the best option is for any employee at a workplace that could be prone to injuries? Know your rights before you sign them away.