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Has Your Employer Opted Out of Texas Workers’ Compensation?

Posted On July 18, 2016 In Workplace Accidents

Workers' compensation or occupational accident insurance?Texas workers should know whether their employers are using workers’ compensation, occupational accident insurance, or nothing, as the differences can have significant impact on how you recover from workplace injuries and illnesses.

Texas allows some private employers to ‘opt out’ of using workers’ compensation, which is used almost universally in other states. Some employers, especially those using independent contractors, prefer to use occupational accident insurance.

Workers’ compensation is a state-regulated insurance program that pays medical bills, death benefits, funeral expenses and some lost wages for injured employees. In addition, workers’ compensation protects employers from injury lawsuits in many cases. Instead of settlements or judgments from personal injury cases, employees receive benefits from workers’ compensation. So let’s say Joe, a construction worker, is injured in a slip and fall accident on a job site. No third party was involved. This means Joe would likely be unable to sue his employer for damages. Instead, Joe would file a workers’ comp claim and possibly receive benefits to cover the cost of care and lost wages while he recovers.

Occupational accident insurance is different, in that it is not state-regulated and only provides whatever benefits are covered by the policy. These policies cost less for the employers, but they do not provide the same level of coverage. However, it is easier to file lawsuits against negligent employers who are using occupational accident insurance instead of workers’ compensation. Because they do not have workers comp, the law penalizes them by limiting the defenses they can raise against the injured employee.

Let’s say hypothetically, Joe’s employer used occupational accident insurance instead of workers’ comp. However, Joe’s employer was still negligent, and that means he could hire an attorney and possibly sue for damages. The same could be true if Joe’s employer had no insurance coverage.

Why You Should Know Your Employer’s Insurance Policy

If you have been injured in a work accident, it is crucial that you discover what type of insurance your employer carries. The type of insurance carried by your employers decides what types of benefits you get (if any at all). Keep in mind, Texas is an opt out state, and private employers are not required to carry any kind of insurance. If your employer has opted out of Texas workers’ compensation, it is crucial to know what, if any, coverage they are carrying.

There are some cases where employees will be left without the funds they need to recover. At this point, calling an attorney is crucial. An attorney can discover what your employer carries and can help you decide on the best way to move forward.

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