The Who, What, When, Where, and How of Texas Workers’ Compensation
Have you been injured at work, but do not know if you will be covered by workers’ compensation laws? If so, you are not alone. A surprising number of Texans are often left wondering after a workplace injury whether they are covered, or whether it is even worthwhile to pursue workers’ compensation benefits.
Under the broadest of definitions, if you have been hurt at work while performing your duties of employment, you are eligible for a workers’ compensation claim. It is never this simple, but this is the essence of workers’ compensation.
Employees who receive wages for work performed for a dedicated employer are typically covered by workers’ compensation—sounds confusing, right? What this means is that people who work as independent contractors and volunteers cannot file a claim for workers’ compensation. Business owners and partners are not considered employees, and are therefore ineligible. Some people in other employment fields—such as longshoremen, federal employees, and railroad workers—are covered by their own independent programs, separate from traditional workers’ compensation.
Injuries, illnesses, and psychiatric conditions that occur as the result of a person’s work are considered in workers’ compensation claims. If an injury is very minor, such as something that can be treated effectively with basic first aid supplies, it will not qualify. The injury, condition, or illness must be the direct result of work-related activities.
Many people incorrectly assume that their injury had to occur on the employer’s property in order to qualify for a workers’ compensation. Many jobs require that employees regularly go offsite as part of their regular duties. As long as the injury occurred performing duties associated with their job, and employee may be able to submit a successful workers’ compensation claim.
If an employee is injured in the scope of his employment, he must report the injury to his employer as soon as possible in order to seek workers’ compensation benefits. For some injuries, such as occupational diseases related to exposure, the employee must report the illness as soon as possible after learning that it is work-related. In Texas, the timeframe for reporting an injury to an employer is 30 days, but we recommend reporting sooner if at all possible.
Texas is a “no fault” state when it comes to workplace injuries, meaning that even if you are fully or partially to blame for the incident that caused your injuries, you may still be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. There are two notable exceptions: you may not be covered by worker’s comp if you were intoxicated or engaging in willful misconduct when you were hurt.
Did this article help you better understand the ins and outs of workers’ compensation in Texas? If so, share it with your friends on social media to help them better understand and protect their own right to workers’ compensation benefits!