If you’ve been injured at work, it can be difficult to know what to do. You might have decided to wait it out and hope that your injury improves — especially if you can’t afford costly medical bills — only to find yourself in pain that makes it impossible for you to do your job properly. Alternatively, you might have considered filing a personal injury claim, but you’ve been focusing your time and energy on recovering and making ends meet, and now you’re not sure if you’ve left it too late.
In this post, we answer your questions on accidents in the workplace, including how long you have to report a work injury and what you can expect by hiring a personal injury lawyer.
What Are the Common Workplace Injuries in Texas?
Few Texans wake up and expect to have an accident on the job, but workplace injury is very common across the Lone Star State. According to the Texas Department of Insurance, private industry employers reported 187,600 non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2019. Of the more serious injuries that required time away from work, sprains, strains, and tears were by far the most common, followed by cuts, lacerations, or punctures; fractures; and soreness or pain. While a much smaller percentage suffered amputation, chemical burns, and even multiple traumatic injuries, it’s a sobering reminder of the potential severity of workplace injury.
Unsurprisingly, some work environments are more likely to result in an injury than others. Transportation and material moving, where the emphasis is on manual labor and using heavy and potentially dangerous machinery, reported the largest number of cases in 2019. What may be surprising, however, is that there were more workplace injuries reported in industries such as healthcare and food preparation than in construction, building, and maintenance.
It shows that workplace accidents — whether a slip or fall that causes a broken bone or a ceiling collapse that causes a permanent brain injury — can happen anywhere, and if it wasn’t your fault, you may be able to make a personal injury claim.
How Long Do You Have to Report an Injury at Work?
How long you have to report an injury at work varies by state. As a general rule of thumb, in Texas, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim is two years from the date of the injury. This includes slip and fall accidents and premises liability claims. However, there are exceptions to the rule.
Certain maritime claims, including longshoreman accidents, have an expiry of three years, depending on if they fall under state law tort. Claims related to asbestosis may also have an extended statute of limitations.
There’s also another consideration you must take into account before filing a lawsuit against your employer: whether or not they have insurance.
Does Your Workplace Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
In every other state in the country, the law requires companies to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. This type of insurance protects both employers and employees in the event of sickness or a no-fault accident while working. It provides cover for medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation, and funeral expenses when the injury is fatal.
In Texas, however, this type of insurance is not mandatory. This means that the first step you should take before reporting an injury at work is checking if your employer is covered.
Despite not being mandatory, your employer may still choose to take out this type of insurance. The benefit of workers’ compensation is that as long as you did not cause your injury or were impaired at work (by being intoxicated, for example), you stand a good chance at reclaiming your medical expenses and some, if not all, lost wages. The advantage is that you don’t have to prove that your injury was explicitly your employer’s fault, and you may still receive compensation even if you were partly responsible.
How to Report an Injury at Work and Get Compensation if Your Employer Doesn’t Have Insurance
If your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, though, what can you do? The good news is that you may still be able to claim compensation from your employer by hiring a dedicated workplace injury lawyer. For a workplace compensation claim to be successful, you must prove that your injury or illness was due to negligence by your employer. Common grounds for negligence include:
- Not providing sufficient training
- Faulty equipment
- A lack of safety gear or protection.
However, many workplace issues could constitute negligence, which your attorney will investigate to help you win a financial settlement.
The advantage of filing a personal injury claim is that the payout is often significantly larger than that of any workers’ compensation claim. Not only will a successful settlement consider the full cost of medical treatment and loss of wages, including future medical treatment and lost wages, but it may also include non-economic damages, such as compensation for pain and suffering, and exemplary (or punitive) damages — which serve to send a message against misconduct by punishing the losing party.
When Is the Best Time to Report an Injury at Work?
If you’re injured at work, the best time to report your injury is as soon as possible. If your employer has workers’ compensation insurance, the statute of limitations differs again, and there are additional deadlines you must adhere to.
In this case, you must give notice of your work-related injury or illness to your employer within 30 days. You then have one year from the date of the injury to file a claim. In the case where the injury is caused by a work-related disease or illness, you have one year from the date it was recognized as such.
This makes it vital for employees to find out if their employer has insurance so that they know how long they have to report an injury at work.
Why Should You Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer after an Injury at Work?
In all but exceptional cases, you’re not allowed to file a personal injury claim if your employer provides workers’ compensation. But because Texas is the only state that doesn’t mandate workers’ compensation, you have a much higher chance of filing a successful personal injury claim and getting a fair settlement.
However, personal injury claims require a higher degree of preparation and more thorough documentation, as well as definite proof of your employer’s negligence. Because this is a complex matter, you should seek expert legal guidance from a workers’ compensation attorney as early as possible, even if you’re not sure where you stand or how long you have to report your work injury.
With Patino Law Firm, you can get a free, no-obligation consultation with our experienced workplace injury attorneys. We’ll advise you on the best claim to pursue and negotiate skillfully on your behalf. Contact us today to start your claim and significantly increase your chance of getting the compensation you deserve.