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Don't panic if your employer doesn't have work comp coverage

When employees suffer some manner of serious work-related injury, they invariably have a host of concerns, not all of which are related to their wellbeing. Indeed, many are understandably worried about how they will pay for the medical treatment necessitated by their accident or how they will manage to make ends meet while they heal.

The good news is that if their employer has workers' compensation insurance, it is designed to cover the costs of medical care related to the work injury and replace at least some of their lost income. The operative word here is "if," however, as Texas generally does not require private employers to carry work comp insurance.

While this may seem somewhat unbelievable, particularly to those workers who have moved here from another state where such coverage is mandatory, this has long been the reality here in the Lone Star State.

Specifically, the law dictates that those employers that opt not to carry work comp insurance -- referred to as nonsubscribers -- must do the following:

  • File an annual notice with the Texas Department of Insurance's Division of Workers' Compensation
  • Inform each new employee of the fact that they don't carry work comp coverage in writing
  • Post notices around the workplace and personnel offices stating that they don't carry work comp coverage

If these requirements seem less than rigorous, consider also that state law dictates that employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses have the ability to sue nonsubscribers.

Furthermore, nonsubscribers are prohibited from arguing that they are not liable for the work-related injuries given any of the following:

  • The injury was caused by the employee's negligence
  • The injury was caused by the negligence of another employee
  • The injury was caused by a danger of which the employee was aware and voluntarily accepted    

This is significant, as employers that do carry work comp coverage are able to advance these arguments.

What all of this underscores is that employees who suffer a serious work injury and later discover that their employer does not carry work comp coverage should know that they have rights and they have options.  

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