How do I File a Claim if I am Injured at Work?
When we show up on the job site each day, we expect that our boss and employers are doing their best to maintain a safe work environment, and that we will return home safe and injury free when our shift ends. Yet, despite the stricter safety standards and increased government oversight, there are thousands of preventable accidents that occur in the workplace every year.
Even the most safety conscious and cautious of employees may find themselves facing the prospect of a work-related injury at some point in their career, and often through no fault of their own.
It’s understandable that a work-related injury can be a traumatic and trying time for most individuals, as they face the challenges imposed by their own recovery and rehabilitation while also facing the financial hardships brought on by expensive medical bills and lost wages due to the accident.
Thankfully there are some recourse available to a worker who has been injured on the job to help provide compensation during these trying times. In some instances, you may be able to file for workers’ compensation, which is designed to protect workers in case of injury and to protect employers from lawsuits in those instances.
However, Texas is one of the only states in the country that does not require employers to carry workers’ compensation, but rather allows each private employer to decide whether or not to carry it. This means that if your employer has workers’ compensation, you must go through workers’ comp in order to receive financial compensation.
If your employer does not have workers’ compensation, then you might have to file a personal injury lawsuit in order to receive damages from medical bills, lost wages, and beyond.
Filing for Workers’ Compensation
If your employer does have workers’ compensation, then your first step will be to notify your employer about your on-the-job injury. You have up to 30 days to provide this notice, but it is important to do so as soon as possible. Delaying a claim by more than a day or two without a good reason is liable to cause suspicion among the employer or their insurance company as to the validity of the injury claim.
Your employer may provide medical treatment through a workers’ comp health care network, in which case you would need to choose a doctor within that network. If not, you will need to see a doctor who is willing to treat workers’ comp claims.
In order to file an official claim, you will also need to notify the Texas Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) and file an employee claim for work-related injury, (DWC Form-041) which can be filed either by mail, in person, or online through the DWC website. You have up to one year to file the official claim with DWC from the date of your injury.
Once the DWC receives your claim, they will notify your employer and its insurance company and conduct a review to decide whether to accept or deny your claim.
If your claim is denied, it is important to remember that you have the right to request an appeal. Unfortunately, the vast majority of workers accept the initial ruling as-is and then face the financial consequences alone.
Other Forms of Compensation
If your employer has chosen not to offer workers’ compensation, then your only recourse for receiving compensation for lost wages and medical bills may be by pursuing a personal injury lawsuit. Even if your employer carries workers’ compensation, you may have other avenues to compensation if your injuries were caused by a third-party such as a contractor, were due to gross negligence, or were caused by defective products or machinery.
Every workplace injury is different, and the laws in Texas can be complex to decipher, which is why it is crucial that you speak with an experienced workplace injury attorney like those at Fears Nachawati. If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, then contact us today for a free, no-obligation legal consultation by calling (866) 705-7584 or visiting one of our offices located throughout the great state of Texas, including in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Austin.