Today we are going to be talking about work injuries and what you need to know to protect your legal rights. My guest is attorney Gregg Anderson and he is going to talk with us about this topic. So Gregg thanks for being here today.
Gregg: Thank you.
Dei: Gregg if someone is injured on the job what steps do you recommend they take?
Gregg: Well the first thing to do is determine whether or not the employer has workers’ compensation insurance in place and that can be done by contacting the Texas workers’ compensation commission and in fact if the employer does have workers’ comp then there are certain deadlines in place that must be met by which the injured person must make a claim.
Dei: And what if the employer suggests that the injured employee go out on short term disability instead of workers’ compensation?
Gregg: Well we hear that sort of thing quite frequently and what that often means is the employers not covered by workers compensation. Very briefly, if an employer does have workers’ compensation coverage the injured employee is barred from suing the employer, can make a workers compensation claim but cannot sue the employer for negligence. On the other hand, if the employer does not have workers’ compensation coverage the employee is at liberty at that point to make a negligence claim and if necessary file a lawsuit against the employer. So It’s crucial to determine whether or not the employer is covered by comp or not covered by comp and often times the telltale sign that they are not is when the short term disability comes up.
Dei: Now suppose the injured worker is so seriously injured that he or she will not be able to return to the same position in the company. What options does he or she have?
Gregg: Well the workers’ compensation scheme is very rigid and the injured employee only gets so many weeks of coverage in terms of their lost time or lost wages. They get lifetime medical benefits but if they can’t go back to the same job it doesn’t really matter in terms of what the workers’ compensation scheme will pay the injured worker.
Dei: And what if the employer tries to terminate the injured worker?
Gregg: Well Texas law prohibits an employer from firing or terminating an injured employee for the sole fact of making a workers’ compensation claim, so if it can be proven, which is difficult to do, but if it can be proven that the employer fired an injured employee because he or she filed a claim, then you would have a separate cause of action against the employer for doing that. On the other hand, Texas is what’s called an at will state, which means unless you have a contract with your employer, the employer is at will to terminate or fire you for pretty much any reason.
Dei: This is very helpful information Gregg. Thank you so much for being with us today.
Gregg: Thank you.
Dei: Until next time this is Dei Lynam for Texas Law TV.