Workers’ compensation is a state-regulated insurance program that covers employees who are injured while performing the tasks and duties for which they are employed. The program is regulated by the Division of Workers’ Compensation, which is part of the Texas Department of Insurance. Covered expenses include medical bills and, when the injury or illness causes the employee to lose some or all income for more than seven days, workers’ compensation policies also cover employees’ lost wages. Employers who obtain workers’ compensation insurance may do so by purchasing a workers’ compensation policy from a private insurance company, or by “self-insuring,” as long as they meet the requirements of the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act of 1989. Public employers and employers with a construction contract with a government entity are required by law to provide workers’ compensation.
An employee who is injured on the job while covered by workers’ compensation may not bring legal action against his or her employer. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule in extreme circumstances, such as in a fatal event. Workers’ compensation insurance goes into effect relatively expediently, covering a range of benefits to respond to the injured worker’s needs after an accident; but in conjunction with these benefits comes the restriction that the employer will not be subject to a lawsuit. Further, an employee who is covered by workers’ compensation, and is injured on the job as a result of a co-worker’s negligence, will in most cases receive workers’ compensation benefits, but is prohibited from bringing legal action against the co-worker.
Even accidents that appear to be clear-cut workers’ compensation cases should be evaluated for third party liability by experienced attorneys and qualified experts.