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Texas Workers' Compensation Laws

If you find yourself whispering "Hook 'em horns" every time you see burnt orange, or you bleed the blue and silver of the Dallas Cowboys, you might live in Texas. And whether you work for an oil company in Houston, or a lab in Amarillo, every Texan worker is at risk for job-related injuries and illnesses.

Fortunately, many employers in the state carry workers' compensation insurance, which provides benefits like wage replacement and medical treatment to employees who are injured or fall ill because of their job. In turn, the employee gives up the right to file a lawsuit against the employer and is limited to the specified benefits. If you've been injured in the Lone Star State, you should know your rights and responsibilities for filing a workers' compensation claim.

The table below shows significant parts of Texas's workers' comp laws, including employee benefits and important timelines.

Important Deadlines
Some Types of Benefits
  • 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 or permanent disability, subject to weekly maximums and minimums (Sec. 408.081, 408.041, 408.101 et seq., 408.121 et seq., 408.1415, 408.061 et seq.)
  • Vocational rehabilitation: benefits to help find alternative employment if employee cannot return to previous job (Sec. 409.012, 408.150)
  • Death benefits: payments equal to 75% of employee's average weekly wage paid to legal beneficiaries; up to $10,000 in burial expenses if employee dies from work-related injury or illness (Sec. 408.181 et seq., 408.186)
Employer Rights & 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 & 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.)

How Does Worker' Comp Function in Texas?

Texas law allows most employers to decide whether to purchase workers' comp insurance, but they must tell you if they've chosen not to have it. If they've declined the insurance, or you've rejected coverage, you retain your right to sue them for a much wider range of damages, but you'll probably also have to show fault on their part. For those with insurance, the injury must be work-related, and while injuries are covered regardless of fault, compensation may be denied if you were injured while intoxicated or at an off-duty, voluntary, recreational activity.

Hurt on the Job? Report Your Injury

After an accident, you should get medical attention and notify your supervisor of the injury (or illness) within 30 days. If your employer carries workers' compensation insurance, you must choose a doctor from a list of approved providers (except in emergencies). After being notified of the injury, your employer must send a First Report of Injury to their insurance carrier within eight days. If your employer does not have insurance, you should contact a local attorney to discuss your options for seeking compensation.

What if My Claim Is Denied or Challenged?

If there is a dispute that you and the insurance carrier are unable to resolve, you may request dispute resolution through the Division of Workers' Compensation. You're free to represent yourself or request help from the Office of Injured Employee Counsel during this process, but an attorney can be extremely helpful in meeting deadlines and representing you against the insurance company's attorneys.

Not Sure How to Navigate Workers' Comp? Get Help from a Texas Attorney

The pain from an injury or illness is bad enough, but now you have to figure out how to pursue compensation to help pay your bills. An attorney can help you decide if your employer owes you money through works comp insurance or some type of legal action. Learn more about the process and your potential benefits by speaking with an attorney familiar with the workers' compensation laws in Texas.

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