In most states, workers’ compensation insurance is compulsory, but in Texas, this coverage is optional for private businesses. When interviewing for potential employers, it’s essential to consider whether you will be covered by workers’ compensation coverage, particularly if you work in a dangerous field.
What Texas Job Applicants Need to Know About Worker’s Compensation
In Texas, private employers are not required to have workers’ compensation coverage. Employers who opt not to have coverage are called “non-subscribers,” and their decision to forgo coverage makes them vulnerable to personal injury lawsuits from injured employees.
For employers who choose to subscribe to worker’s compensation coverage, there are compensation limits set by the law.
Although not required, an estimated 80% of Texas workers are covered by workers’ compensation coverage. Employers would rather not take the risk of a lawsuit if a worker is injured while on the job. Workers in retail and agriculture are least likely to be covered by workers’ compensation.
Some employers are required by Texas law to have workers’ compensation coverage, including:
- Public employers, including state agencies, cities and counties
- Construction contractors for public employers
- Motor carriers
- Motorbus companies
- Liquid propane gas or compressed natural gas dealers
Non-subscriber employers are not required to follow workers’ compensation laws or rules.
An estimated 185,200 Texas workers were injured on the job in recent years, so job seekers must consider whether their potential employers have coverage before committing to a job. Lack of coverage puts employers at risk of lawsuits, but it makes the process more complicated for employees to receive compensation.
Your Employer Must Notify You of Coverage or Lack of Coverage
When hiring, Texas employers are required to notify employees of coverage (via Notice 6) or lack of coverage (via Notice 5).
Notice 5 simply informs the employee that the employer does not have workers’ compensation coverage, and for this reason, would not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act.
With that said, non-subscribing employers may provide other benefits to employees who are injured. Even if the employer does not have workers’ compensation coverage, employees may still have rights under the common law of Texas if they are injured on the job or develop an occupational disease.
If a non-subscribing employer has other benefits for injuries, they must provide coverage information in writing at the time of hiring.
Employees must also be notified if an employer ceases to be covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
Factors That Can Harm Your Work Injury Case
Some factors can harm your work injury case, including:
Not Following Safety Procedures
Safety procedures are in place for a reason and are designed to prevent injuries. Failing to follow safety procedures puts your work injury case in jeopardy and could result in decreased compensation.
Injury During Horseplay
If you are injured while engaging in horseplay at work, this could harm your injury case. It depends on the extent and duration of the horseplay. If the behaviour is objectively dangerous and well outside of the scope of your job duties, your claim may be disqualified.
Engaging in Risky Behaviors
If an employee is engaging in objectively risky behaviour that is outside of the scope of work, compensation may be decreased or denied.
If, for example, an employee was injured while intoxicated on the job, and the accident was due to the alcohol usage, a judge may determine that the employee does not qualify for compensation. However, if the judge determines that the employer knew the employee was drinking on the job, the employer may be considered complicit in the situation, and the employee may be granted benefits.
The Accident Occurred Outside of the Course and Scope of Your Work
If an accident occurs while outside of the scope of employment, you may not qualify for compensation.
If the injury occurred while you were not conducting official business, then it may not be considered a work injury. For example, let’s say that you were running an errand for your boss, but you decided to make a stop at a friend’s house. If you got into an accident while leaving your friend’s house, you might not be covered because you were not conducting official business. In this case, it would be difficult to prove that the employer was negligent.
In any situation, it is essential to know your rights. It’s also important to seek good advice should you find yourself needing to do so. Remember, you have to always watch out for you, and your family.