Workplace injuries are a serious problem, especially for those who work in construction or the oil industries. However, any worker can be injured on the job, including office workers and travel workers. If you sustain a workplace injury in Houston, you may be entitled to financial compensation. If you sustain a workplace injury in Houston, consulting with a Houston workers’ compensation lawyer can be essential to ensure you are entitled to financial compensation.
At Steinger, Greene & Feiner, we know how common it is for workers to be denied the benefits they need and rightfully deserve. When your employer or a third party may be responsible for your injury, we will aggressively pursue your case until you receive maximum compensation.
What You Should Know About Workers’ Compensation in Houston
Unlike most other states, Texas does not require employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. The purpose of workers’ compensation is to provide workers with benefits if they become injured on the job and unable to work. These benefits usually include payment for medical bills and a portion of your wages. When an employer carries workers’ compensation insurance, you cannot sue that employer for injuries.
If your Texas employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance, you have the right to sue them for injuries, and an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you recover lost wages and medical expenses. They can also help you secure compensation for pain and suffering and other emotional and physical damages that are not covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
If you suffer a work-related injury, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and improve your chances of having your initial workers’ compensation claim approved:
Step 1: Notify Your Employer
First, you should tell your supervisor immediately after the injury happens.
Second, you must file a report in writing to your employer within 30 days of the occurrence of your injury or the day you discovered it. The report must describe how the injury occurred in the course of your work. It’s essential to be honest and factual in this report. Do not speculate or say anything to suggest that you may have been at fault. Any inaccuracies or embellishments can be used against you by your employer and/or the insurance company.
After you do that, it is then your employer’s obligation to file an Employer’s First Report of Injury or Illness with the company’s insurance carrier, within eight days of your notification of injury or absence from work.
Step 2: Visit a Doctor
As soon as your injury occurs or you discover that you are injured, visit a doctor. If your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance, you will need to see a doctor in the workers’ compensation healthcare network. Your employer is required to provide you with a written notice that you’re in a workers’ compensation network when they join a network when you’re first hired, and when you report a work-related injury.
When you get to the doctor’s office or hospital, inform the staff and make a note on any intake forms that the injury or illness is work-related. You also need to provide the following information:
- The name of your employer
- Contact information for your employer (address and phone number)
- The name of your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier, if applicable
- The insurer’s carrier claim number
- Name and contact information for the insurance adjuster
When you see the doctor, explain to them how your injury or illness occurred, and be sure to tell them that it was work-related. In addition to beginning necessary medical treatment, visiting a doctor creates a written record of your injury, including your symptoms, prognosis, and the likely cause.
Step 3: File Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
To apply for workers’ compensation, you must file an Employee’s Claim for Compensation for a Work-Related Injury or Occupational Disease (DWC Form-041) with the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation. This should be done as soon as possible and must be completed within one year of sustaining an injury or developing a condition or illness related to your work.
As with reporting the injury to your employer, it is crucial to stick to the facts and be as accurate as possible when filling out the claim form. If you are unsure about how to answer any of the questions, it may be in your best interest to speak to an attorney.
Step 4: Contact a Houston Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
You have the right to contact a Houston workers’ compensation lawyer at any point after you suffer a workplace injury. An attorney can help you with the process of filing a claim and securing maximum compensation.
Benefits of Hiring a Houston Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
An experienced workman’s comp lawyer can help you explore all of your options for recovering compensation. This may include filing a lawsuit against your employer and/or other parties that may be responsible for your injury.
At Steinger, Greene & Feiner, when we take on your case, we will uncover all the evidence to hold negligent parties accountable and secure you the compensation you deserve.
Our team will:
- Help you navigate the claims process from start to finish
- Document all accident-related costs
- Compile a list of witnesses and collect eyewitness testimony
- File medical payments and/or disability benefits
- Submit timely appeals for any denied benefits
- Collect all other relevant evidence, including photos of dangerous working conditions
It’s also vital to consider all of the factors that led to your workplace accident and injury. The negligence of one or more third parties may have caused your injury.
Here are some examples:
- A product you used in the course of your job failed or malfunctioned as a result of a defect. In this case, you may be able to bring a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
- The owner of the property overlooked or ignored unsafe working conditions. This could be grounds for a premises liability claim.
- You were driving for work and a careless driver caused an accident. In this case, you may be entitled to compensation through an auto accident claim.
At Steinger, Greene, & Feiner, we will identify all parties responsible for your work injury and aggressively pursue the full compensation that you deserve. We’ve secured maximum payouts for our clients who have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence.
Hear from our clients why we are one of the top personal injury firms in Houston.
Common Workplace Injuries
Some work injuries occur suddenly as a result of a fall or accident, while others can develop slowly through repetitive actions (e.g. operating a tool or machine) or exposure to dangerous materials (e.g. asbestos, chemicals, toxic fumes, etc.).
Here are some common workplace injuries:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Severe burns
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Loss of limbs
- Cuts and lacerations
- Bone fractures
- Damage to soft tissue
- Injury to internal organs
- Nerve damage
- Eye injuries and vision loss
- Hearing damage and deafness
- Occupational illnesses
You can improve your chances of winning a suit against your employer by visiting the hospital immediately if you ever have a work-related complaint. This creates a detailed record of your illness or injury that can be used when you file for workers’ compensation or bring a claim against your employer.
What If Your Claim Is Denied?
If you file a workers’ compensation claim following a workplace injury and your claim is denied, you have the right to file an appeal. If you have not yet contacted an attorney for assistance, you should do so before filing an appeal. Your attorney can help you avoid a second denial.
When you dispute a worker’s compensation claim through the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation (TDI-DWC), this is what will occur:
Step 1: Benefit Review Conference (BRC)
The first step is meeting with an insurance representative and a Benefit Review Officer from TDI-DWC to discuss the issues. If the issues are resolved, an agreement will be typed up and signed by both you and the insurance carrier. If the issues are not resolved, you may choose to go to a contested hearing or arbitration.
Step 2 Option 1: Contested Case Hearing (CCH)
If you choose to move forward with a contested case hearing, a formal hearing will be held with a Hearing Officer from the TDI-DWC. You will get an order from the Hearing Officer regarding their decision about your claim. If you are still unsatisfied with the outcome, you can take your case to an appeals panel.
Step 2 Option 2: Arbitration
If you choose to move forward with arbitration, a meeting will be arranged between you, the insurance representative, and an independent arbitrator chosen by the TDI-DWC. You and the insurance representative will share your reasons for conflict regarding your claim, and the arbitrator will make a final decision for the claim that cannot be appealed.
Step 3: Appeals Panel
If you held a contested case hearing and were not satisfied with the outcome, your next step is taking your case to an appeals panel. The appeal panel will review written statements from you, the insurance representative and the Hearing Officer to make a final decision. You will be issued a written statement from the panel with a final decision.
If you don’t agree with the decision made by the TDI-DWC, you can appeal the decision in a Texas court.
How Long Can You Get Income Benefits?
The type of income benefits you can receive after a workplace injury depends on the seriousness of your injury.
The four types of income benefits include:
- Temporary Income Benefits (TIBs): TIBs end when your doctor says you can return to work full-time or says that you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). If neither of these things happens, TIBs end approximately two years after your injury.
- Impairment Income Benefits (IIBs): IIBs are available if you have a permanent impairment from a work-related injury or illness.
- Supplemental Income Benefits (SIBs): SIBs are available to any injured worker with a whole-body impairment rating of 15% or higher.
- Lifetime Income Benefits (LIBs): LIBs apply to injuries so severe as to disable a worker for the rest of their life. These benefits are 75% of an injured employee’s average weekly wage (AWW), with a 3% annual increase.
Workers’ compensation insurance carriers often dispute worker salary benefits. The longer you receive benefits, especially SIBs, the higher the chance you will be denied benefits and have to file an appeal.
It may be hard to understand which type of benefits apply to you. If the benefits you are seeking are disputed or denied, contact Steinger, Greene & Feiner right away to speak with an expert workers’ compensation attorney.
Contact Our Houston Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Today
If you are injured on the job, you should be able to focus on your recovery without worrying about appealing claims for denied benefits or navigating complicated workers’ compensation laws. Our team will guide you through this process from start to finish. We’ll help you file a thorough claim to reduce the chances of denial, and if your claim is denied, we will appeal it until you are satisfied with the results.
Our mission is to represent your best interests against employers and insurance companies to get you the compensation you deserve. As such, we operate on a contingency fee basis. This means that you pay nothing until we win your case.
Contact Steinger, Greene & Feiner today for a free case evaluation.