If you have been injured at work, you have the right to seek workers' compensation benefits for medical treatment, medication, lost wages and possibly more. The vast majority of employees in Texas are covered by workers' compensation, an insurance program that covers all occupational injuries and diseases. Texas employers must obtain workers' compensation insurance or must be large enough to self-insure for work injuries and illnesses.
Though virtually all work-related injuries are covered on a no-fault basis, meaning the worker does not need to prove that someone else was to blame to collect compensation, injured workers sometimes find it difficult to seek the benefits they deserve. The following tips can help you through the often complex process of filing a workers' compensation claim and seeking fair benefits.
- Report your injury or illness to your employer as soon as possible. You must report your injury within 30 days of its occurrence or your knowledge that it is work-related, or you may lose your right to benefits. Inform your employer in writing and keep a copy for your records.
- Send in a completed workers' compensation claim form (DWC Form-041) to the DWC within one year of the date of your injury. Be sure to fill this form out as truthfully and completely as possible. Keep a copy for your records.
- When you seek medical treatment, be sure to inform your doctor of your injury and the fact that it is work-related. Being clear about the source and nature of your injury is crucial as your doctor will be the source of medical information relating to your claim. Tell your doctor how the injury occurred and tell him or her about any pain or other symptoms you are experiencing. The information your doctor provides could directly impact your ability to receive benefits and their amount.
- Do not lie about your injuries or try to fraudulently obtain workers' comp benefits. Workers' compensation fraud is a criminal offense that may result in jail time and fines, and you may lose your right to benefits even if your claim was partially true or valid. Be truthful about your injuries and do not invent symptoms or otherwise try to "trick" the system. This can only have detrimental consequences, and you may be monitored (including Facebook posts or other social media sites) for evidence of the true extent of your injury.
- Consider seeking legal counsel if you run into any problems with your claim. You have the right to hire an attorney to handle your workers' compensation claim. Legal representation is not a requirement, and may be unnecessary in a claim involving only minor injuries, but if you have run into any delays or if there is a dispute regarding the validity of your claim, having an attorney to protect your interests may be the best way to seek the benefits you need. An attorney can explain your legal rights and options in the face of employer retaliation (such as wrongful termination or demotion) or other wrongdoing in relation to your claim or injury.
Representing injured workers throughout Houston and the surrounding areas in Texas, we at The Daspit Law Firm are committed to providing only the highest quality legal counsel. We handle workers' compensation claims, hearings and appeals to help our clients recover the benefits to which they are entitled under the Texas workers' comp system. Call today for a free case evaluation and find out how one of our skilled lawyers can help you.