I’ve heard from two attorneys the last few days that were trying to avoid a difficult situation involving on-the-job injuries.
For background, Texas is a worker’s comp state. If your employer has worker’s comp then you are, for the most part, barred from suing your employer if you’re injured on the job. On the other hand, if your employer does not carry worker’s comp (we call these employers “non-subscribers”) then you can sue your employer for an on-the-job injury.
Some non-subscribers have “fake” worker’s comp policies. Typically, these are plans that will pay injured people a portion of their lost wages and their medical bills, but the plans won’t pay for pain and suffering, impairment, mental anguish, etc (these are called “non-economic damages”). Under the law, injured workers are often entitled to seek benefits under the plan while still suing their employer for the damages that the plans don’t cover.
The problem? Many industrial employers are now requiring their employees to sign a release before allowing the employees to seek benefits under the plan. Thus, the injured are giving up their rights to seek a recovery for non-economic damages in exchange for accepting a partial recovery. The potential recoveries that these employees are giving up may be substatial.
Now, in some situations, that may be in the employee’s best interest. But in many situations, it isn’t. And injured employees who don’t know their rights can’t make informed decisions until they talk to an attorney and understand the options they have and the consequences of their decisions.
So, if you’re injured on the job, I encourage you to talk to an attorney before signing any agreement that may give up your rights.
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