Those who suffer on-the-job injuries are sometimes in a position to receive workers’ compensation: a benefit offered by some employers that helps pay for medical expenses associated with an injury an employee sustains on the job.
Workers compensation insurance is purchased by an employer and can cover things like hospital bills and partial lost wages after an employee suffers an injury.
There are several points to consider in gauging your eligibility for this benefit:
Were you intoxicated?
Injuries incurred while an employee is intoxicated due to the consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs are not covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
Were you breaking a rule?
If you were acting in a manner that violates company policy or committing a crime, you may not be eligible for workers’ compensation.
Were you actually at work?
Workers’ compensation only applies to injuries sustained while the employee is working. This might sound straightforward, but there are plenty of gray areas. For instance:
- If you’re injured while running an errand for your employer
- If travel is involved in your work (sales prospecting, etc.) and you’re injured in transit
- If you’re injured on a business trip, during “leisure” time
- If you have to drive through a “zone of danger” like a blast zone or construction site to get to your place of work and are injured in that zone
A professional attorney with experience in workplace injury, like those at Thomas J. Henry, can advise in situations like these where liability is less than crystal clear.
Does your employer actually have workers’ compensation insurance?
In Texas, employers are allowed to opt out of purchasing workers’ compensation insurance. However, they do so at their own risk. If an employer that doesn’t offer workers’ compensation is found to be even 1% at fault for an employee’s injuries, the employer is liable for any and all resulting damages.
That means that any breach of OSHA workplace safety regulations or even a slight sign of negligence on the part of your employer could leave them on the line for any associated costs through a personal injury lawsuit.
If you’re injured on the job and an employer without workers’ compensation insurance tries to get you to settle quickly for a lump sum, it’s wise to consult a personal injury attorney before signing anything. It’s not uncommon for companies in such positions to try to pay only a small part of what they’re really liable for.
Companies in these situations can also try to deny that they’re even 1% at fault. To prove otherwise, a good personal injury attorney will call on experts like OSHA Consultants, Workplace Safety Compliance Experts, Ladder Experts, Industrial Accident Re-constructionists and others to help you make your case.
As an individual, it can be difficult to stand up for yourself when powerful “higher ups” at your place of work encourage you to do certain things. Hiring a good attorney will ensure that you have a strong, knowledgeable advocate who will put your best interests first.
Do you have a question about workers’ compensation, construction site injuries or a similar topic? Thomas J. Henry has an array of helpful resources and experts ready to take calls and answer questions. To learn more, visit thomasjhenrylaw.com.