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Workplace Injuries

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas has led the nation in workplace injury and deaths in 11 of the past 14 years. Occupational injuries can happen to any person in every industry. Those injured on the job may have certain rights under workers compensation.

Texas does not require employers to carry worker’s compensation insurance. Even if an employer does subscribe to worker’s compensation, the benefits are limited for employees. Any person, who has been injured on the job, should seek legal representation immediately.

Workplace Accident Attorneys in Houston, Texas

Americans average 90,000 hours spent at working during their lifetime according to a report by the Business Insider. This means that you spend the majority of your life at work. You deserve to feel secure and safe on the job. Employers, who do not offer workers compensation to their employees, may be held civilly responsible.

Evans & Powell, PLLC are experienced in handling all types of civil cases in Texas courts. We understand that being unable to work is taxing. Your recovery may be hindered by stress factors such as medical bills, loss of wages, and fear of termination. Our personal injury attorneys want to ease this process. We can file documents, negotiate with insurance agents and employers, and represent you in court. Gain a partner today. Contact the attorneys at Evans & Powell, PLLC.

Our attorneys accept clients throughout the greater 9th District Court including Patton Village, Cut and Shoot, Houston, Conroe, and Willis.

Have some peace of mind now. Call us today at (713) 622 - 2000, or simply submit an online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

Overview for Occupational Accidents in Texas

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Workplace Injury Statistics in Conroe, Texas

Occupational injury is more common than you may think. It does not matter the industry or job title, serious physical injury or death can result to any person. The following are some statistics collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2014.

  • 524 fatal workplace accidents occurred in the state of Texas;
  • Texas was ranked 17th in workplace deaths;
  • 74 workplace injuries occurred from violence by persons or animals;
  • 244 workplace injuries occurred from transportation-accidents;
  • 10 workplace fatalities occurred from fires or explosions;
  • 90 workplace fatalities occurred from falls, slips, or trips;
  • 50 workplace fatalities from exposure to harmful substances/environments;
  • 75 workplace fatalities occurred from contact with objects and equipment

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Common Injuries from Workplace Accidents in Texas

Workplace injuries can vary from deep cuts to wrongful death. The following are some injuries that may occur from a occupational accident.

  • Lacerations;
  • Abrasions;
  • Spinal cord injuries;
  • Traumatic brain injuries; (TBI)
  • Amputations;
  • Burn injuries;
  • Broken bones;
  • Head injuries;
  • Neck injuries;
  • Back injuries;
  • Disease or illness; or
  • Soft tissue injuries.

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Non-Subscriber Employers in Texas

Employers are responsible for the safety and security of their employees. In some cases, serious physical injury or death may occur while on the job. The inability to work can cause great stress. Rising medical costs, lost wages, and even the fear of termination may follow a person who has had a workplace injury.  If you have been injured on the job, your employer may be liable if they are a non-subscriber to worker’s compensation insurance.

A non-subscriber employer is liable for damages because of an employee’s injury if:

  • The injury arises out of and in the course and scope of employment; or
  • If the injury arises from exposure to hazards that can induce disease or sickness.

Employers who are non-subscribers to workers compensation may be liable if a negligent event or workplace induces an employee’s injury, disease through a hazardous work environment, or death. Negligence can be broadly interpreted. Consequently, anything that an employer should do to keep their workers safe, within reason, the law obligates them to implement it. If these reasonable measures are not upheld, and an injury occurs, the employer can be found negligent and liable.

Employer negligence can take many forms. For an employer to be negligent, he or she must be aware of a dangerous condition and takes no action against it. This does not apply to employees who create their own unsafe conditions.

A few scenarios where an employer can be negligent include, but are not limited to:

  • Negligent hiring of inexperienced employees;
  • Failure to provide proper training;
  • Having policies and procedures that are inadequate for the safety/health of the employees;
  • Did not uphold safety policies and procedures, despite knowing that employees are routinely breaking them;
  • Failure to ensure employees follow OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) health guidelines;
  • No procedures or policies to address known hazards; or
  • Negligent supervision.

Employers do not have to be directly negligent to be considered liable. Those who are under the employers control such as supervisors or managers may be negligent. If a coworker’s negligent behavior results in an employee’s injury, the employer may still be held liable. The law sees this as employer negligence since the coworker was under the employer’s control.

If a coworker does something so unexpected or outrageous, where the employer had no reason to ever expect that such conduct could occur, then the employer may not be liable.  The law cannot hold employers accountable for unforeseen behavior that an employee may do. The law presides over foreseeable acts of carelessness.

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How Do I Prove A Non-Subscriber Work Injury in Texas?

Proving negligence is important, but it is as equally vital that you prove the value of the injury cost. Losses due to a negligence-related injury are referred to as “damages.” In order to receive compensation for damages, the plaintiff must provide the jury with evidence that losses occurred due to the injury.

There are a few ways to prove damages occurred. The plaintiff can collect some of this evidence individually. An experienced personal injury attorney can gather the necessary evidence, and additional testimony that can help your case.

  • Demonstrative Evidence – Any media that can support that the plaintiff is suffering/suffered from injury or disease. This can include photos, videos, and graphics. A photo progression of your injury is an example of demonstrative evidence.
  • Documentary Evidence – Paperwork that might support your claim is crucial in a non-subscriber work injury case. Documents such as medical reports, accident reports, written witness statements, and pain diaries can all be considered documentary evidence.
  • Expert Testimony – In some cases, a medical expert may be called in to testify. Expert testimony can assist the jury’s understanding with the severity of the injury. They may be able to provide context for documents or test results such as X-Rays for comparisons.
  • Witness Testimony – Sworn statements by witnesses can assist your claim. A witness may have seen the accident occur or watched a significant amount of the recovery/aftermath process. Additionally, they can help the jury understand any circumstances that surrounded the injury or disease.

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Damages from a Non-Subscriber Employer

Compensation from a non-subscriber employer differs immensely from an employer who subscribes to worker’s compensation. An employee, whose employer subscribes to workers compensation, will receive certain medical and wage benefits by following worker’s compensation regulations. However, a non-subscriber employer may be liable for damages that are deemed emotional or non-tangible.

For instance, if a person has their face badly burned on the job, obviously he or she will have damages for medical costs. The injured party will need treatment, but he or she may also undergo emotional suffering due to disfigurement. The burns may affect the way the plaintiff tastes or smells, which could be considered a loss of enjoyment in life. All of these non-tangible damages are important to emphasize in court, as they are recoverable damages if an employer is a non-subscriber. An employer that is subscribed to worker’s compensation may likely be able to avoid liability for such damages.

It may be difficult to determine the value of all your damages alone. A skilled personal injury attorney can assess the full scope of your injury. The following are some damages that you may receive compensation for:

  • Medical costs;
  • Lost wages/Loss of earning capacity;
  • Disfigurement
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment for life

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Employer’s Duty of Notice in Houston, Texas

Employers are not required to obtain worker’s compensation for their employees in Texas. However, they are required to notify all employees if they have worker’s compensation insurance coverage. Employers who do not inform their employees are violating Texas Labor Code § 406.005.

The following are the instances where an employer is required to inform their employee if or if they do not have worker’s compensation insurance:

  • Employers shall notify a new employee of the existence or absence of worker’s compensation at the time the employee is hired;
  • Employers are required to post notice of whether the employer has worker’s compensation insurance coverage at conspicuous locations of the employer’s place of business to post reasonable notice to their employees; and
  • Employers are obligated to inform all employees if their worker’s compensation insurance coverage has been obtained, terminated, or cancelled no later than the 15th day after the date on which the cancellation, termination, or coverage was put in effect.

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Subscriber Employers in Texas

In Texas, employers have the choice to provide worker’s compensation insurance for their employees. Employers who do this are considered subscribers. A subscriber pays for worker’s compensation insurance through a third-party insurance company. A subscriber’s insurance company will pay for certain benefits for employees injured on the job. Injured employees have certain rights and responsibilities when applying for worker’s compensation.

An employee who has worker’s compensation has the following benefits:

  • The right to obtain income benefits after meeting certain requirements;
  • The right to receive reasonable and necessary medical care for your injury; and
  • The right to keep your claim private and choose the doctor who treats you.

Your employer is required to tell you if your claim is in a health care network. This is so you can use a doctor in that network to give you treatment. If you receive treatment from a doctor outside of the network and do not receive approval from the network, you may be obligated to pay for the medical costs.

Along with rights, injured employees with worker’s compensation have certain responsibilities. You must tell your employer within 30 days if you have a work-related injury or illness.

Injured employees must also report his or her injury to the Division of Worker’s Compensation within one year. To do this, you must submit a DWC Form 041 (Employee’s Claim for Compensation for a Work-Related Injury or Occupational Disease) to the Division of Worker’s Compensation.

Both the division and insurance company must be notified if any changes occur within your job or contact information. This includes changes in pay, work description, mailing address, and phone number. Failing to uphold any of these responsibilities may affect your ability to obtain worker’s compensation.

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Worker’s Compensation Income Benefits in Texas

Employers who are subscribers to worker’s compensation may have their insurance company pay certain benefits for injured employees. Subscriber benefits do not include intangible losses such as pain and suffering. Instead, subscribers provide both income, medical or death/burial benefits to those injured on the job.

Income benefits replace some of the money lost from a work-related injury or illness. The amount of money provided from income benefits is reliant on your average weekly wage. The average weekly wage is the average amount of money that your employer paid you each week in the 13 weeks before you were injured.

The following are the different types of income benefits you may be eligible for:

Temporary Income Benefits

If you have lost money from a job for more than 7 days because of a work-related injury or illness, you may be eligible for income benefits. The benefits would begin on the eighth day of missed work, and all missed workdays do not have to be in the same week.

Temporary Income Benefits equal 70 – 75 percent of your weekly wage before you were injured. If your employer has given you a different job or lowered your pay due to injury, you may still be eligible for Temporary Income Benefits.

Temporary Income Benefits can end in two ways. One is the benefits end on the day you return to work and the money you get from your job equals the money you were paid before your injury. Another way for the benefits to end is when you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement.

There are two types of Maximum Medical Improvement, Clinical Maximum Medical Improvement or Statutory Maximum Medical Improvement. Clinical Maximum Medical Improvement is when a doctor says no further healing or recovery from the injury is expected. Statutory Medical Improvement is 104 weeks from the date you began receiving Temporary Income Benefits. By law, Temporary Income Benefits must end after 104 weeks.

Impairment Income Benefits

Another type of income benefits you may receive is Impairment Income Benefits. If you have received permanent damage due to a work-related injury or illness, you may be eligible for Impairment Income Benefits. These benefits will pay 70 percent of your average weekly wage before you were injured. If your weekly wage is higher than $773, then you must receive $541 per week by law.

These benefits are not reliant on if you are able to work. In fact, you may receive Impairment Income Benefits if you are able to return to work. These benefits are dependent on the amount of damage that has been done to your body. This damage is determined by an Impairment Rating (IR), a percentage of permanent physical damage done to your body due to injury.

For each percentage point of your IR, you will receive 3 weeks of Impairment Income Benefits. For example, if you have an IR of 3 percent you will receive 9 weeks of Impairment Income Benefits.  Your treating doctor will issue an IR based on the Impairment Rating guidelines.

Supplemental Income Benefits

Once you have exhausted Impairment Income Benefits, you may be eligible for Supplemental Income Benefits. You must reapply for Supplemental income Benefits at the Division of Worker’s Compensation every three months. To be eligible for Supplemental Income Benefits you must:

  • Have an impairment rating of 15 percent or more;
  • Have not returned to work. If you have returned to work, you must earn less than 80 percent of your average weekly wage because of your injury;
  • If you do not have a job, you must meet job search requirements each week or agree to be in a program that helps those with disabilities find jobs (Vocational Rehabilitation Program); and
  • Not accept a lump sum payment from your Impairment Income Benefits.

Supplement Income Benefits are monthly, not weekly. The amount you receive is 80 percent of what you were paid when you subtract the difference between 80 percent of your average weekly wage and you weekly wages after your work-related injury. Supplemental Income Benefits have a time limit of 7 years and 6 months from the date of your injury or illness.

Lifetime Income Benefits

If a work-related injury or illness is life altering, you may be eligible for Lifetime Income Benefits. Injuries that may qualify for Lifetime Income Benefits include:

  • Total and permanent blindness;
  • Loss of both hands at or above the wrist;
  • Loss of one foot at or above the ankle, and the loss of one hand at or above the wrist;
  • A spinal injury that results in permanent and complete paralysis o both arms, legs, or one arm and one leg
  • Loss of both feet or above the ankle;
  • Third degree burns that cover at least 40 percent of the body and require grafting;
  • Third degree burns covering the majority of either both hands or one hand and the face; or
  • A physically traumatic injury to the brain resulting in incurable insanity or imbecility.

Lifetime Income Benefits do not have a time limit. The benefits are 75 percent of your average weekly wage before your injury. It also includes a 3 percent cost of living increase for each year.

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Worker’s Compensation Benefits in Texas

There are other types of benefits you may receive if you have a work-related injury or illness. The following are the different types of benefits you may receive.

  • Medical Benefits – An employee injured or sick by a work-related cause may be eligible for medical benefits. The employer’s insurance company may pay for any kind of health care that cures or relieve the injuries effects, promotes recovery, or enhances the ability for the employee to return to work. Doctors for your treatment must be in your health care network to be considered eligible for medical benefits.
  • Death and Burial Benefits – If an employee dies due to a work-related injury or illness, his or her legal beneficiary may be eligible for death and burial benefits. To file this claim the beneficiary must submit a DWC Form-042 Beneficiary Claim for Death Benefits to the Division of Worker’s Compensation within one year of the employee’s death. Death benefits are 75 percent of the deceased employee’s average weekly wage. In addition, burial benefits may also be available for those who paid burial expenses.

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Exceptions to Worker’s Compensation in Montgomery County, Texas

Texas Labor Code § 406.32 does state certain exceptions for employees seeking worker’s compensation. An insurance carrier, or employer, is not held liable for compensation if the injury is a result of any of the following:

  • Injury occurred while the employee was in a state of intoxication;
  • Injury was caused by the employee’s willful attempt to injure himself or herself or to unlawfully injure another person;
  • Injury arose out of an act of a third person who intended to injure the employee because of a personal reason and not directed at the employee as an employee or because of the employment;
  • Injury arose out of voluntary participation in an off-duty, recreational, social, athletic activity that did not constitute part of the employee’s work-related duties. Unless the activity is a reasonable expectancy of or is expressly or impliedly required by the employment; or
  • Injury arose out of an act of God; or
  • The employee’s horseplay was a producing cause of the injury.

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Additional Resources

Information about Worker’s Compensation – Visit the official website for the Texas Workforce Commission. Read more regarding how one can request worker’s compensation, gain access to important documents, and resources for those who are injured on the job.

Texas Workers Compensation Act – Visit a document of Texas legislation from 2009 called the Texas Workers Compensation Act.  Find more information on how to obtain worker’s compensation, who is eligible, and acts that exclude a person from worker’s compensation.

Injured Employee Resources – Visit the official website for the Texas Department of Insurance. Find more information regarding worker’s compensation benefits, frequently asked questions, and dispute resolution. Gain access to DWC forms, worker’s compensation resources, and a video series that explains the citizen guides for worker’s compensation.

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Lawyer for Workers Compensation in Houston, Texas

Have you been injured on the job recently? It is important that you explore your legal options while seeking worker’s compensation. A skilled attorney can investigate your workplace accident and see what losses you may be entitled to.

The attorneys at Evans & Powell, PLLC value the American worker. We understand that losing the ability to work is a huge change. That is why we want to do all we can to assist you through this injury. Our attorneys will go to great lengths to get what you deserve.  Gain a reputable personal injury attorney today.

Evans & Powell, PLLC represents citizens throughout Montgomery County including Willis, Panorama, Shenandoah, Patton Village, Conroe, and Magnolia.

Dial (713) 622 - 2000 or submit an online contact form for a free consultation today.

Evans & Powell, PLLC