Texas is unique in many ways. One such distinction involves workers’ compensation coverage for injured workers. Texas is one of only two states in the union that allow employers to reject workers’ compensation coverage. The trend appears to be growing, as many states are now considering this opt-out option to become a nonsubscriber. NPR covered this topic in an article on October 21, 2015.
Nonsubscribers are numerous in Texas. WalMart is the largest and most notable nonsubscriber, and appears to be behind business groups that are pushing states to allow rejection. Many other retailers have opted out, and the trend is upward.
If you get hurt working for a nonsubscriber, the employer may choose to provide you workers’ compensation checks and medical care. It only pays benefits if it sets up a plan. If it does choose to provide you benefits, they are not regulated by the state, and may be as much or as little as the employer wants, and you have no say. There are less stringent reporting requirements for these employers, and consequently we believe the severity, extent and duration of job injuries will be under reported.
There is a consequence for being a nonsubscriber. If you work for one of these employers and get hurt, you may bring a cause of action for your damages at law. But, you must prove all of the elements of a negligence tort. You must prove duty, breach, causation and damages. Many accidents are not the result of negligence, and likewise there is no recovery. To further complicate matters, most employers compel binding arbitration. This means that you cannot take your claim into a court of law, but are bound by judges assigned by an arbitration group. Additionally, you have no right of appeal. The civil justice system is replaced by fine print in the documents you sign when you are hired.
The link to the NPR story is here:
At Mayfield Law Office we represent injured workers of subscribing and nonsubscribing employers. If you need to know your rights, call us today, with offices in Longview and Dallas, Texas.