Injured on the Job? Know Your Rights
You’ve worked a long day, loading shelves with supplies in your employer’s warehouse. Your coworkers are exhausted, too. Your arms ache and you don’t quite get a big box in place when your arm gives out and it falls on you, hitting your shoulder and landing on your foot. Your shoulder is badly bruised and your toe is smashed. You can’t work anymore today and may be out for several days. You just suffered an on-the-job injury.
There were a total of 3,063,400 cases of nonfatal injuries at the workplace in 2010 – plus others that were not recorded. When injuries keep you from working, they cause financial troubles for you and your family. So you begin the process of applying for worker’s compensation. How else can you pay your medical bills?
If this were to happen to you tomorrow—what would you do? It’s important to know your rights.
Texas is an at-will employment state. So for employees, this is not ideal and a difficult standard to live with. At-will employment means that an employer can fire any employee at any time, without any specific cause. Exceptions are:
- Discrimination based on age, sex, gender, race, religion or disability (civil rights)
- Serving on a jury
- Pursuing one’s rights to worker’s compensation
The guidelines below should help you define and determine your eligibility for compensation, as well as the immediate actions to take after an injury. But of course it makes sense to speak to a workers compensation attorney for the best advisement in your situation.
Worker’s Compensation Eligibility
Note that seniority is irrelevant when it comes to on-the-job injuries. Even if you just started working somewhere yesterday, your are eligible for worker’s compensation if you are injured. Any injury sustained while performing job-related tasks, which impairs your ability to work, qualifies you to receive worker’s compensation regardless of time served with the company or full or part-time status.
Next step after an injury occurs
From the moment you are injured at work you are entitled to Temporary Total Disability—also known as TTD. You cannot be dismissed from your job for applying for this, nor can you be fired for taking any other legal action, such as hiring a lawyer or filing a workers compensation claim.
Keep good records
To protect yourself after sustaining an injury at the workplace, you should immediately start recording details. Don’t hesitate to report an injury to your supervisor, and obtain medical assistance right away (at least within 30 days of the injury to be eligible for benefits). You can apply for workers compensation after missing three consecutive calendar days from your job.
Employers are responsible for providing prompt medical treatment when there is an injury. But note that your employer has the right to select the treating physician. If the employer fails to provide treatment within seven days of the notice of injury, an employee can select their own physician at the employers cost. Workers compensation laws protect you so that you are not responsible for any medical costs incurred while treating your on-the-job injury.
Workers Compensation claim filing
The elements of a workers comp claim can be tricky. It’s in your best interest to utilize an attorney who is knowledgeable about work-related injuries, costs and compensation. Contact a personal injury lawyer who handles workers comp cases, such as our law firm. Your rights come first – and your employer may not feel the same.