Am I covered by workers’ compensation?

Texas does not require companies to purchase workers’ compensation insurance and a new study finds that fewer companies are opting for this coverage than in the past.

Every state in the country has some sort of program established to provide essential benefits to injured workers. Many states mandate employer participation either via the purchase of insurance coverage or proof of self-insurance. In Texas, however, companies are not required to have any insurance for workers' compensation claims. This naturally leaves employees wondering what they should do if they are injured or become ill on the job.

Workers' compensation insurance sees drop in coverage

As reported by the Houston Chronicle, the Texas Department of Insurance's Division of Workers' Compensation recently conducted a study that took at look at workers' compensation coverage across the state. It found that in 2016, 78 percent of all employers in the private sector purchased workers' compensation insurance.

Only two years later, however, insurance was purchased by 72 percent of employers. This six-percent drop was noticed in many sectors including among small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

A total of 82 percent of employed people in Texas are believed to be covered by some sort of workers' compensation insurance. That leaves 18 percent of employees without such protection although 64 percent of those people may have alternative protections.

Options for injured employees

According to the Texas Workforce Commission, people who are hurt at work and find that their employers do not carry workers' compensation insurance may pursue compensation directly from their employers. In some situations, this may include taking legal action.

Navigating workers' compensation claims

When a company does have a workers' compensation policy in place, an injured or sick employee must let the employer know about any injury or illness within 30 days of learning about the condition or within 30 days of an injury event.

In most cases, a person who has become hurt or sick on the job may file to receive wage replacement benefits as well as coverage for medical care and treatment related to their injury or illness.

One thing important for employees to know is that they can choose the doctor they would like to see when seeking care and treatment for any workers' compensation-related condition.

Legal consultation is advised

Whether or not an employer offers workers' compensation insurance benefits, an employee who experiences an illness or injury related to their job should always talk to an attorney. Navigating the workers' compensation claim filing system or seeking compensation directly from an employer can involve a lot of complexities that make having an advocate who knows the laws essential to being protected.