Hurt on the job? Sick because of the work environment? Workers’ compensation can save thousands in medical bills and lost wages alone. But, not every job has workers’ compensation. Read on to see how this can directly impact you.
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that employers can carry for their employees. This insurance pays medical and income benefits if an employee is injured at work or if an employee has a work-related disease or illness. More specifically, benefits include: (1) income benefits to pay a portion of a worker’s lost wages; (2) medical benefits to pay for medical care to treat the work injury; (3) burial benefits to pay for some funeral expenses; and (4) death benefits to pay some lost wages to the family of a worker killed on the job. On the other hand, workers’ compensation is not payable when the employee incurs injuries that: (1) are intentional or self-inflicted; (2) result from horseplay or voluntary drug or alcohol intoxication; (3) result from voluntary participation in off-duty recreational, social or sports events; (4) result from “acts of God,” unless the job has a high risk of injury from such acts; or (5) are inflicted by someone else for personal reasons unrelated to employment.
Generally, in Texas, workers’ compensation is not required so it is only available if the employer chooses to maintain it for its employees. However, there are a few situations that require workers’ compensation. One situation is when an employer engaged in construction or building activities enters into a contract with the government.. Each of its employees working on that public project must have workers’ compensation. Likewise, companies may be required to have workers’ compensation under the terms of a contract with a third-party. Typically, such contracts prohibit companies from bidding on or being awarded contracts unless they participate in the workers’ compensation program.
Even if workers’ compensation is not a state requirement, it can potentially save employers a lot of money; workers’ compensation not only ensures that workers are taken care of, but it also relieves employers of liability for claims. This is especially helpful if a worker does not have health insurance and gets hurt on the job. If the hurt worker in this situation tries to sue his employer for medical expenses, the employer’s workers’ compensation will indemnify the employer and pay the medical expenses to the injured employee. However, the employer cannot obtain help from workers’ compensation if the employer is grossly negligent, or intentionally acts or withholds information that causes injury to the employee. It is also important to note that without workers’ compensation coverage, employers lose certain defenses when an employee is injured on the job. Specifically, the employer may be unable to use the defense of “contributory negligence” also known as “comparative fault”.
Business owners should look carefully into getting workers’ compensation for their employees to take advantage of the cost-saving benefits. More information on employer rights and responsibilities can be found here. But, what if you’re an employee and are not sure if your employer has workers compensation available? Don’t worry, employers are required to notify employees of workers’ compensation upon hiring and status change of coverage; they are also required to post notices around the place of business in the common language of the workers. Check your break room, HR office or other common areas for these postings. If you are an injured employee, you only have 30 days to report the injury to your employer so be sure to report the injury right away. Workers compensation can save employers and employees alike precious resources in the unfortunate event of injury or sickness on the job.
The Takeaway: Unless required by contract, Texas employers are not required to subscribe to workers’ compensation, but the workers’ compensation program provides many benefits to employers. Employers should carefully consider the benefits of the workers’ compensation program before making a decision. Employees should check with their employer to determine whether their employer is a worker’s compensation subscriber and should always report all injuries to the employer within 30 days of the occurrence.
– The Business Team
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