Being injured on the job is especially complicated, both financially- and legally-speaking. Along with the physical impact to your health, a work injury can cause tension between you and your employer, making you fear for your financial wellbeing. It may also affect your ability to earn a living, either temporarily or permanently. And pursuing legal action in these instances means navigating a complex network of insurance policies, liability, and industry practices.
For these reasons, it can be difficult to understand your rights and options in a work injury case, as well as the obligations of your employer — and how you can seek compensation for your injuries without compromising your financial security. Consulting with a qualified work injury lawyer can shed light on these questions, while providing professional guidance as you navigate this challenging and confusing chapter of your life. With that in mind, here’s what you should know about a work injury case.
What Makes Work Injury Cases So Complex?
There are many factors that may complicate your work injury case. The parties involved and their employment status, as well as the insurance coverage available to you may impact how you proceed in your case. Additionally, government regulations and corporate policies may also play a role. More specifically, here are a few issues that you need to consider as you decide how to move forward with your case.
- Industry regulations. OSHA requirements may differ for various industries. Many employers are subject to industry-specific regulatory bodies as well. Employers in the trucking industry are required to abide by specific rules that differ from those in construction, for instance. Understanding how these rules impact your employer’s responsibilities often requires the guidance of a work injury lawyer.
- Involvement of multiple parties. When you are injured on the job by a third party — such as vendor, another contractor, or someone else unrelated to your job — determining liability can become difficult. You will need to determine the relationships between the various parties and their responsibilities before you will be able to decide how best to move forward with your case.
- Involvement of multiple insurance policies. Likewise, since there may be more than one party involved in your case, there may be more than one insurance policy involved. For instance, if you are employed as a contractor, you may have your own insurance carrier while your employer maintains a separate corporate policy. The presence of multiple policies can often complicate your case, especially since insurance policies may be reluctant to provide coverage if another insurer is involved. Identifying all the possible coverage angles can make a critical difference in the outcome of your case.
- Potential existence of workers’ compensation policies. Workers’ compensation policies can also impact the types of damages you can seek in a personal injury case. For example, there are strict rules about your ability to recover compensation beyond your workers’ compensation insurance benefits if you were hurt by your employer or a co-worker while on the job. On the other hand, if you were injured on the job by a third-party, but are still collecting workers’ compensation benefits, the law requires you to reimburse your workers’ compensation insurance company if you recover money in a settlement.
- Impact to your earning ability. Depending on the nature and severity of your injury, it may not be physically possible for you to return to work. In this case, you may be able to seek compensation for loss of future income in addition to other damages. However, estimating the value of these damages can be complicated and frequently requires involvement of experts.
- Documenting employer policies. Obtaining copies of employer records, such as emails, may be fundamental to proving your right to compensation. But as an employee, it may be difficult to access these documents by yourself. This is another reason why many individuals injured on the job will turn to a work injury lawyer for assistance in their case.
Understanding Your Rights in a Work Injury Case
A work injury case is different from other accident cases because it involves your employer. Because you rely on your job for an income, it is critically important that you understand your rights and your employer’s responsibilities. That way, you can protect your employment status and ensure that your employer lives up to their obligations.
The following are just a few of your rights as a worker injured on the job:
- You have the right to hire an attorney. Regardless of who is liable in your case and how your employer handles worker injuries, you are legally entitled to representation if your case warrants it.
- You have the right to receive medical treatment and choose your care provider. In Texas, if your employer carriers workers’ compensation insurance, the law allows for you to receive treatment as long as required by your injury. You can also choose the doctor or specialist you receive that treatment from.
- You have the right to recover from your employer if they do not provide workers’ compensation insurance. Many employers choose not to provide workers’ compensation insurance to their employees. But their failure to protect you means you have a clearer path to secure a financial recovery from your employer from your harms and losses, even if you are partially to blame for the work injury.
Understanding Your Employer’s Responsibilities in a Work Injury Case
The following are some — but not all — of the obligations of your employer in a work injury case.
- Your employer is not required to hold workers’ compensation coverage. In Texas, employers do not have to maintain a workers’ compensation policy. But they can face penalties if the do not cover you and contribute to your work injury.
- Your employer cannot retaliate against you for taking legal action. Regardless of how you choose to pursue your case (or whether you decide not to take action at all), your employer is legally prohibited from taking action against you for doing so.
Because work injury cases are difficult to navigate, we recommend that you at least consult with a personal injury lawyer before you decide how to move forward. Our Austin work injury lawyers at FVF are well-versed in workplace injury law can help you understand your rights, options, and likely outcomes in your case. Contact us today to learn more.
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