Texas Workers' Compensation laws & safety compliance analysis

Texas Workers' Compensation: What you need to know

Who Is Covered?

Under Texas law, workers' compensation coverage is voluntary for both the employer and the employee. Employers may opt out of the system simply by not purchasing insurance (although there are substantial risks associated with doing so). An employer that opts out in this way must notify the Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC) and all employees. Employees of organizations that have insurance coverage may elect not to be covered by giving the employer a signed notice at the time of hiring stating that if injured at work, the worker will not take advantage of the compensation and procedures of the workers' compensation law. But an employer may not ask an employee to give such a waiver.

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The principal advantage to an employer of electing to be covered under the law is that it provides insurance against all work-related injuries. Workers' compensation is a "no-fault" or "strict-liability" system. Injured workers receive compensation regardless of who is at fault. It makes no difference whether the employer (or the employee) has been negligent or careful. Workers' compensation pays the same in either case. In exchange for this guarantee of compensation, employees give up the right to sue for damages, and employers enjoy immunity from lawsuits by injured workers.

Risks of Noncoverage

Employers who opt not to be covered by workers' compensation take substantial risks. When an employee sues an uninsured employer for a workplace injury, the employer is prohibited from taking advantage of the defenses of assumption of risk, negligence of fellow employees, and contributory negligence. This makes it easier for an employee to win in court. Moreover, there is virtually no limit on damage awards in such cases. An ...

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