Is it a personal injury case or is it a Workers’ Compensation claim? This is a question that comes up frequently in our Houston personal injury law practice. Someone is injured on the job and wonders what is the appropriate procedure to obtain necessary compensation for their injuries. The answer whether or not the claim is a personal injury one or one covered by workers’ compensation, or both will depend upon the facts and circumstances of the accident.
in Texas, Worker’s Compensation is available to employers who choose to purchase it. The biggest difference between a personal injury claim and a workers’ compensation claim is that with Workers’ Compensation if you are injured on the job and your employer has Workers’ Compensation you do not have to prove fault in order to collect benefits.
With Worker’s Compensation the injury victim is usually well taking care of from a medical perspective but damages such as pain-and-suffering are not included.
Compensation does include such things as weekly benefits, permanent impairment benefits and medical expenses and rehab. However, if your employer had workers’ compensation coverage in effect at the time of your accident, your claims directly against your own employer will be limited to those benefits available under Workers’ Compensation in Texas.
Most Workers’ Compensation victims with very serious injuries are left holding the bag except for their medical expenses as the statutory scheme does not allow for items of compensation that are available to other personal injury victims.
Many companies have gone to an alternative insurer other than Worker’s Compensation to reduce costs. These plans if they are not registered as workers’ compensation with the state of Texas and generally do not automatically qualify the employer to the benefits of worker’s compensation immunity as a result of an accident on the job.
It is important that the injured worker not sign paperwork without speaking with an attorney about the consequences of such signature particularly when dealing with an insurance policy other than WC.
You can contact the state of Texas Worker’s Compensation commission for questions regarding workers’ compensation, benefits and whether or not your employer is covered. See https://www.tdi.state.tx.us/wc/.
In order to recover damages in a Texas personal injury case you must prove that the person who caused the accident owed you a duty and caused you legally recoverable damages. By way of example, if you were in an injury car accident and someone else is at fault, this would be a personal injury claim (but if you were on the job at the time of the crash and your employer had WC, it may be both a personal injury and WC case.
The personal-injury claimant must prove someone else was at fault or at least that someone else was at greater at fault than they were.
For on-the-job workers, your employer may have workers’ compensation coverage which in effects limit your claims against the employer to the workers’ compensation statutory scheme but third parties may have been responsible for the accident which allow you to pursue both Worker’s Compensation and a personal injury claim.
A few other examples would be where your injury was caused by a dangerous or defective machine or by another person not employed by your company. These are called third-party claims and victims are allowed to pursue both Worker’s Compensation and third-party clients at the same time. It is noteworthy that Workers’ Compensation in Texas includes subrogation claims which are statutory. Victims often have to repay workers compensation out of third-party compensation in the personal injury case.
Damages and Workers’ Compensation claims are extremely limited and defined by statute. Damages in personal injury cases are much different in that the amount of damages are generally determined in an agreed settlement or by a jury. Personal injury damages include such things as:
* Physical pain
* Mental anguish
* Medical expenses
* Lost wages.
Individuals who have been seriously injured on the job should inquire about the Workers’ Compensation situation with their employer and also consider speaking to a personal injury attorney regarding whether or not a third-party claim against others may be possible.
If you’ve been injured on the job and would like to speak with an attorney about a potential third-party claim, contact us at the Baumgartner Law Firm for a no obligation consultation regarding your rights and options. Our goal is to maximize your in pocket compensation. call us today for a no obligation consultation at 281-587-1111.
Ask us about our no fee promise – you will pay us no fee unless we collect in your pocket money for you.