Workers’ compensation plays a vital role in keeping the workplace strong and healthy. In Texas, workers’ comp claims fall under the jurisdiction of the Texas Industrial Accidents Board. As with most legal matters, though, the specifics of how a Texas workers’ compensation claim needs to be filed might not be common knowledge to all employers and employees. Because of this, it’s vital that you consult an attorney who specializes in workers’ comp matters so that you will receive the full coverage that is due to you if you are ever injured while on the job.
To make sure that their employees will be covered in case of an on the job accident, Texas employers are required to maintain an insurance policy sufficient to cover any medical expenses incurred. They are also required to make their first payment on any accepted workers compensation claim as quickly as possible, or at the latest within 30 days of when the first medical bills become due. Failure to maintain the proper insurance or to make payments within a reasonable amount of time can result in fines or other sanctions being taken against the employer by the Texas Industrial Accidents Board. The director of the Board will also issue a report each quarter listing all of the insurance providers who cover workers’ comp in the state, letting it be publically known which are making timely payments and which are not.
Monetary payments as a result of a workers’ compensation claim can be made in annual payments or as a lump sum, but regardless of the method chosen the amount to be paid will be final once a settlement has been agreed on. This is one of the major reasons why choosing a workers’ comp attorney is important, because without an attorney you might agree to an amount that in actuality won’t cover all of your expenses. Because the amount is final once agreed upon, you can’t file an additional claim or try to renegotiate later if you find the terms of your settlement to not be satisfactory.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t request the Texas Industrial Accidents Board to review your settlement, of course; if you or your attorney find the original decision to be unfair to you, a request can be submitted to ask the Board to review the judgment again. Should they agree with you that the settlement wasn’t in your best interest, they can modify the original settlement as needed and the new amount of the settlement will be considered to supersede the old one. The sooner a request for review is submitted, then the more likely the Board will be to consider your request and review the original agreement.
If your employer has more than 15 employees and carries worker’s compensation insurance in Texas, they will be required to participate in a drug-free workplace program that’s mandated by the state. This means that as an employee, you will have to agree to abide by this program and will be tested for both recent drug use and being under the influence of alcohol at the time that your accident occurred. Unfortunately, if you should fail either of these tests the employer will not be required to pay for your medical expenses or to make any additional workers’ comp payments. Whether the employer may take additional steps should you fail the test (up to and including termination) should be specified in the employer’s drug-free workplace policy statement that you agreed to upon accepting employment.
As you can see, there are a lot of legal considerations when it comes to workers’ compensation in Texas. Laws will continue to be modified as needed to provide as much coverage for the Texas work force as possible, as well as to prevent fraudulent claims. Special programs exist for certain professions as well, such as those that deal with hazardous materials or heavy lifting as a regular part of employment. Consult your attorney to see if there are any specific programs which might assist your claim if you are injured while on the job.
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