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Workers' compensation insurance: the basics

In Texas, as in other states, most employers are required to carry workers' compensation insurance. In the event that employees are injured on the job, this insurance can cover a portion of the wages they lose as well as help them pay for their medical treatments. The insurance also covers funeral and burial expenses in case of a fatality. Death benefits can be paid out based on length of employment and annual income.

Workers' compensation insurance has existed in some form or another since the time of the ancient Sumerians. In the 1900s, the U.S. passed the Employers' Liability Act, which granted workers "on-the-job" financial protection. Workers' compensation is used to cover both full-time and part-time employees across the nation. Freelance workers are not covered and must get workers' compensation from a private insurer.

The insurance kicks in when workers are injured, when they are recovering from an illness linked to workplace conditions or when the family of an employee who was injured or killed requires financial assistance. Injured workers might turn down any benefits offered to them and opt to take legal action instead. Injured workers must get medical help immediately and then report the incident to their employer. That's when the filing process can begin.

Those who incur a workplace injury may want to see a lawyer because filing for benefits can be complicated. The lawyer may help gather all the necessary paperwork. While victims don't need to prove that the employer or anyone else was at fault, they may face opposition from the employer if they contributed to their own injuries. A lawyer may help mount an appeal in such a case. Victims should know that in Texas, they cannot opt for a workers' comp settlement.

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