Workers’ Compensation in Texas

The issue of workers’ compensation in Texas is important to you if you live and work in Texas, and you have been injured on your job or become ill due to the type of work that you do. In fact, you may be having problems and difficulties in getting compensated for that injury or illness at the present time.

It is well to keep in mind what workers’ compensation is. Workers’ compensation is a form of business insurance. It provides benefits in the form of medical coverage, income and rehabilitation to employees or their family who suffer injury, illness or death as a result of, or in the course of, their job. This does not depend on whether the employee was at fault. If you were to lose your life at your place of employment these financial benefits may be given to your survivors or of dependents. These benefits are yours or your dependents or survivors as a matter of “right.” Your employer cannot resort to any legal defense. In return for this, neither you and/or your dependents nor survivors can sue your employer for your injuries or death.

Workers’ compensation laws were established to reduce the need for litigation and to mitigate the requirement that injured workers had to prove that their injuries were the “fault” of their employer. Workers’ compensation laws have been around since Maryland enacted the first state law in 1902. The first federal law came in 1906. By 1949, all of the states had passed some kind of workers’ compensation laws.

Originally, these laws were known as “workman’s compensation.” Texas uses the term, “worker’s compensation” or “workman’s comp.”

When it comes to your safety and health at your workplace, although laws differ from state to state, they all must be in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA, at the national level, has the responsibility of making sure that your workplace is healthy and safe.

There is no national agency, however, that requires all employers to provide workers’ compensation benefits. The laws regarding workers’ compensation vary from state to state.

Workers’ compensation in Texas falls under the general heading of the Texas Department of Labor. More specifically, they are under the Division of Workers’ Compensation of the Texas Department of Insurance.

The Texas Workers’ Compensation Act of 2007 states that the Texas Department of Insurance, “is the state agency designated to oversee the workers’ compensation system of this state.” This Act goes on to say that, “the division of workers’ compensation is established as a division within the Texas Department of Insurance to administer and operate the workers’ compensation system of this state as provided by this title.” In other words, the division of workers’ compensation is to administer the compensation system of Texas in accordance with the provisions of the Texas Workers’ Act of 2007.

In regard to these provisions, it is important for you to know and remember that workers’ compensation in Texas is elective. It is not mandatory or compulsory. This means that your employer can choose between providing workers’ compensation coverage or being subject to civil suit in the event of your injury on the job. The exceptions to this are governmental entities and construction contracts for governmental entities. In these cases, workers’ compensation insurance is required.

Workers’ compensation laws in Texas are based upon the theory that the burden of on-the-job injuries should be shifted from the worker to the employing business, and ultimately to the consuming public, as a cost of doing business. These laws protect and benefit you as an employee by providing simple, speedy, effective, and inexpensive relief, without regard to the fault of the employee, employer or third parties.

Texas employers who decide to provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees have some important legal protections. One of the most important protections is immunity from most lawsuits by injured workers. If an employer has workers’ compensation, a lawsuit may go to court only after The Texas Department of Insurance’s (TDI) administrative dispute process has been exhausted. In addition, TDI’s recommendations must be presented to the court. The evidence presented is limited to the issues in dispute, and resolved issues cannot be reintroduced. The employer’s insurance company pays attorneys’ fees and other defense costs.

In order to have these legal protections, employers have to provide workers’ compensation coverage to their employees in one of the following ways:

  • Purchase a workers’ compensation insurance policy from an insurance company licensed by TDI to write this type of coverage in Texas
  • Be certified by TDI to self-insure their workers’ compensation claims
  • Join a self-insurance group that has received a certificate of approval from TDI
  • Be a political subdivision, which may self-insure, buy coverage from insurance companies or enter into inter-local agreements with other political subdivisions providing for self-insurance.

Employers without workers’ compensation can be forced to pay punitive damages if they lose lawsuits arising from workplace accidents. They also lose certain common-law defenses. They are not allowed to defend themselves in court by arguing that:

  • The injured worker’s negligence caused the injury
  • The negligence of fellow employees caused the injury
  • The injured worker knew of the danger and voluntarily accepted it.

There are several benefits that you are entitled to if your employer has workers’ compensation in Texas, and you are injured on the job. You are entitled to medical benefits with no time or monetary limits. You may also make the initial choice of the doctor that you want to use from a list of physicians prepared by the Workers’ Compensation Commission.

You are also entitled to disability benefits. Your surviving spouse or spouse and children can also be paid disability benefits in the event of your death on the job.

As mentioned at the beginning, you may be trying to get the compensation and benefits that you believe you are entitled to because of an injury at your job. You are having problems and difficulties with your employer.

You may need the services of a legal professional. You need an attorney who knows and specializes in employment law. You need an employment attorney.

Workplace Safety in California

Workplace safety in California is an issue that you should be interested in if you work in this state. You probably spend at least 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week or more in your California workplace. This may be the greatest reason why workplace safety in California is so vitally important.

The workplace has changed from what it was a generation ago. A manufacturer’s moving materials or production lines used to be the primary concern. This would take place in a shipping, receiving or storage area of a building. Repetitive action or motion was what businesses depended on to produce a product.

The workplace of today is far more than an assembly line. The workplace of today is not just stationary. It now involves the streets and highways that crisscross the United States.

This is certainly true in California. In California, your workplace can be in an office or a building, or it can also be on the streets and highways of this diverse state.

What is meant by a workplace in California? How is it defined? A workplace is by definition, “a place where commerce is conducted.” Your workplace is anywhere work is carried on. This means a motor vehicle, as well as a building or an office can be your workplace.

What, does workplace safety in California mean? It refers to the working environment at the place where you work. Workplace safety takes in all of the factors that impact your safety, health and well being while you work.

Workplace safety in California includes many things, such as:

  • Workplace violence
  • Environmental hazards
  • Unsafe working conditions or processes
  • Drug and alcohol

Workplace safety is overseen at the national level by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The cornerstone of OSHA’s policies and regulations are seen in its three stated goals.

  • Change workplace culture to increase employer and worker awareness of, commitment to and involvement in safety and health
  • Improve the safety and health for all workers, as evidenced by fewer hazards, reduced exposures, and fewer injuries, illnesses and fatalities
  • Secure public confidence through excellence in the development and delivery of OSHA’s programs and services.

The federal guidelines of OSHA are complemented by state regulations in California. In California, the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) complements the federal guidelines of OSHA. The DIR’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, better known as Cal/OSHA, maintains and enforces safety and health standards in the workplace and performs outreach events for both employers and employees. They also provide safety publication material for workers, employees, parents, and other organizations.

In Texas, these regulations are aimed at promoting the health and safety of California workers in the workplace. California workplace regulations are aimed at providing California workers with a workplace that is free of all types of workplace or workplace-created toxic hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm.

Is workplace safety an important issue in California? What can be done to improve and enhance workplace safety? These are all important questions regarding workplace safety in California.

Workplace safety in California is an issue of vital importance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only Texas had more workplace deaths than California. In 2006, the most recent year for which statistics are available, workplace deaths in California rose to over 500.

The importance of workplace safety in California can also be seen not only in the direct costs of illness and injury in the workplace, but also in the indirect costs of an accident that take into effect the sometimes immeasurable costs of lost efficiency and production on a company-wide basis. Some of these costs are:

  • Overtime to make up for loss of production
  • Wages for lost time of uninjured workers
  • Replacement or repair of damaged equipment or materials
  • Training replacement workers

Workplace safety in California is important because in order for you to do your job well, you need to feel comfortable and safe. Your production will be affected if you feel threatened, anxious, worried or unsafe in your California workplace.

Workplace safety in California is also important because it affects more than just the injured. Friends and family of the injured worker are also affected. A death or debilitating injury or in the workplace can have a devastating affect on family and friends.

The most important resource an employer has is human resource. The importance of workplace safety in California can also be seen in the loss of a worker either temporarily or permanently.

Given the overwhelming importance of workplace safety in California, what can be done to make the workplace safer in this state? What steps can be taken to make the workplace safer? Some steps that can be taken are:

  • Safety training programs need to be set up if they are not already in place
  • Safety goals need to be set up
  • Safety policies and procedures should be implemented
  • The formation of a safety committee
  • Workplace violence has to be dealt with and eliminated
  • An ongoing study and analysis of accidents should be implemented to see where the greatest risks and likelihood of accidents are so they can be prevented

Workplace safety in California may affect you personally. You or a friend or loved one may have been injured at the workplace. You do not believe the company is doing what it is supposed to do.

What can you do? Where do you go for help? Who can you turn to?

You or your friend or loved one needs the help of a legal professional. You need the help of an attorney who knows and specializes in employment law in California. You need an employment attorney.