Q: What types of injuries qualify for workers compensation?
Texas is a no-fault workers compensation state. Generally, this means if you work for a company that carries workers’ compensation insurance, then you will be compensated regardless of how or why you were injured in the workplace.
How Are Workers Compensation Benefits Calculated?
As an injured employee, you will be entitled to lifetime medical benefits as well as income benefits for the duration of your injury.
In Texas, if you are injured in the course and scope of your employment, you may be entitled to a temporary income benefit equal to 75% of your wages. Later it drops down to 70% of your wages. These amounts are subject to a statutory cap, which is currently around $913.00 per week.
To illustrate how it works, when you are injured in the course and scope of your employment, you will likely need to see a doctor. If the doctor thinks you need to be off work, he or she will take you off work and your temporary income benefits will start. The available maximum is $913.00 per week, regardless of your regular weekly salary (higher or lower). You will then remain off work until a doctor says that you have the ability to go back to work.
You can receive those temporary income benefits for a maximum of 104 weeks or until a doctor says you have reached maximum medical improvement. Within that 104 week period of time, if a doctor says you are as good as you are going to get, you are said to be at maximum medical improvement and assigned an impairment rating. Once you receive an impairment rating, you multiply the impairment rating by 3 to determine the number of weeks you have remaining to receive what are called impairment income benefits. In Texas, impairment ratings are typically very low, usually from 0% to 14%.
If your impairment rating is at least 15%, you may qualify for supplemental income benefits. Once your impairment income benefits are over, supplemental income benefits can take you all the way up 401 weeks if you qualify. Except in rare cases, all Texas workers’ compensation income benefits stop after 401 weeks, regardless of your injuries or ability to go back to work,
Q: Are independent contractors covered by workers compensation?
Independent contractors are typically not covered under an employer’s workers’ compensation policy.
Q: Is there a requirement to have workers’ compensation insurance?
Texas does not require employers to have workers’ compensation insurance.
If an employer chooses not to have workers’ compensation insurance, then the employer can be sued for workplace injuries. In this type of case, the injured employee has to prove that the employer was negligent, but it is a very low standard. Unlike other types of negligence cases, the employer is usually unable to say that the accident was partly the employee’s fault.
Q: Is there an instance when I can bring a personal injury lawsuit on account of my work place injuries even when my employer has workers’ compensation insurance?
The only time you can bring a personal injury lawsuit against a company that has workers’ compensation is when the employee is killed on the job and the death resulted from gross negligence.
Q: Is that a regular wrongful death and survival case?
No. It is a case based on gross negligence, so it is a higher standard. You have to demonstrate that it was the employer’s act that caused the death, that the employer knew that it was going to kill the employee, and the employer allowed it to happen anyway. It is a very high standard in Texas.
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