Do You Have a Workers Compensation Claim?
Looney, Smith & Conrad, Workers Compensation Attorneys
Workers Compensation in Texas
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About 3.3 million Americans are injured at work every year, and roughly another 5,000 lose their lives due to workplace accidents. In 2009, 480 Texans were killed at work according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
According to the 2016 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, $62 billion in workers compensation payments are made each year which is more than $1 billion per week.
Accidents that occur on the job can have devastating consequences. When a workplace injury occurs, a person tends to trust their employer to do the right thing. However, not all companies or workers compensation plans are created equally. What appears to be a minor injury could interfere with the ability to do your job, take care of your family and enjoy your life as it was before the accident.
Types of On-the-Job Injuries
Workplace injuries that could entitle a person to Texas workers compensation benefits include:
- Overexertion: includes injuries related to lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying and throwing. It is consistently the top cause of workplace injury
- Falls: another leading cause of workplace injuries; falls account for more than 25 percent of all workers compensation payments in the Liberty Mutual 2010 Workplace Safety Index
- Being struck by an object: includes injuries caused by objects dropping from above or swinging through the air
- Psychological problems: brought on by exceptionally stressful and unusual workplace events
- Bodily reaction injuries: when someone gets hurt without making contact with anything else. Examples include injuries due to bending, climbing, reaching, standing, sitting, slipping or tripping without falling. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) injuries are also in this category
- Auto Accidents: one of the top 10 sources of workplace injuries in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Getting caught in or compressed by equipment: injuries that typically occur when an employee gets caught in a piece of equipment or a heavy object crushes someone
- Striking an object: occurs when a person accidentally runs into something solid, like a door, wall, furniture or a piece of equipment
- Violence: while rare, it does occur on some Texas workplaces
Common Types of Oilfield Accidents
Some of the most frequently seen types of oilfield injuries come from:
- Well blowouts
- Rigs or other equipment collapsing
- Slip and falls on greasy work platforms
- Explosions and fires
- Exposure to toxic fumes
- Falling tools or objects
- Falls from heights
- Defective tools or equipment
- Drill bits that give off shrapnel
- Improperly maintained equipment, especially tongs
- Improper use of an air hoist to lift materials or personnel
- Inadequate safety training
- Failure to lockout and tag out equipment under repair
- Defective or improperly fitted safety harnesses or slings
Types of Construction Injuries
The defense that employees “consented” to conditions contributing to these types of accidents is not effective:
- Falls: Whether building a two-story home or a downtown high-rise, heights pose a constant threat to most people who work construction. Regulations require companies to take steps to prevent falls from happening and reduce their severity if they do.
When employees are exposed to falls of six feet or more, OSHA requires contractors to provide one of the following forms of protection:Fall accidents frequently result when management fails to make sure the required safety devices are properly installed, inspected and maintained.
- Safety nets
- Personal fall-arrest systems such as harnesses and lifelines.
- Scaffold collapses: Employees rely on scaffolds to allow them to perform tasks on walls, windows and other building components above ground level. According to OSHA figures, scaffold accidents injure about 4,500 American construction employees each year and result in the death of 50 more. Improperly constructed and maintained scaffolds can injure employees due to unsteady footings, inability to bear the load, weak or damaged hardware and loosely connected parts.
- Excavation and Trench collapses: In order to prevent employees from being buried alive in a trench or an excavation collapse, regulations set strict mandates for companies to prevent catastrophic earthen support failures. Tragically, contractors don’t always follow these rules. The fatality rate for excavation work is more than double the rate for general construction, according to OSHA figures.
- Falling Objects: Construction workers also face the danger of tools, materials and other objects falling onto them from above. One way to prevent materials from falling onto employees is to install toe boards on scaffolds. Contractors frequently neglect this safety step.
In situations where there is a high risk of objects falling from heights, the contractor can set up a net to catch them. Employees should never be allowed to walk under a load that is being lifted by a crane or other type of hoist.
Simple housekeeping can also prevent injuries from falling objects. If work sites are not free of debris, there is a high likelihood that objects could fall onto lower levels, injuring those below.
- Unsafe equipment: Construction sites employ a variety of heavy equipment including cranes, trucks, pneumatic tools, jackhammers, welding rigs, scaffolding and more. It is the contractors’ responsibility to inspect and maintain all equipment, including their safeguards. OSHA requires all saws, drills, nail guns and other dangerous tools to be equipped with guards and safeties, and contractors must not permit safety features to be bypassed. OSHA regulations require contractors to retrofit appropriate guards and safety devices on to older equipment.
- Insufficient inspection and maintenance: OSHA regulations bar contractors from allowing employees to work in conditions that are unsanitary, hazardous or dangerous to their health or safety. It is the contractor’s duty to make sure a work site meets OSHA standards and is safe. Many workplace injuries could be prevented from routine inspection and maintenance.
Electrocutions can result from sub-standard maintenance of power tools and failure to properly mark live electric lines.
Improperly marked gas lines or a failure to monitor the presence of combustible gases can set the stage for deadly explosions or fires. Improper handling of toxic substances like asbestos can also create health hazards for employees.
- Improper training: Contractors must ensure employees are properly trained on how to use the equipment on the site, that they understand how to use safety features and that they know how to effectively avoid or minimize workplace injuries. When contractors fail to train their employees, everyone on the job site is in danger.
Claiming Texas Workers Compensation Benefits
When an employee is injured on the job and the employer has workers compensation insurance, Texas law requires the employer be notified of the accident within 30 days from the date of the injury or from the time the person realized the injury or illness was job related.
Within one year after the date of injury a DWC Form-041 (Employee’s Claim for Compensation for a Work-Related Injury or Occupational Disease) must be completed and filed. If death benefits are sought DWC Form-042 (Beneficiary Claim for Death Benefits) must be filed within one year after the employee died.
The deadlines for notice and filing claim forms are very important, and failure to comply with them can result in a denial of benefits. It is advisable to consult with the experienced Texas workers compensation lawyers at Looney & Conrad, P.C. to assure the claim isn’t rejected on a technicality and the workers compensation rights are upheld. A Texas workers compensation lawyer will help the person gain his or her workers compensation settlement.
Benefits Are Available Under Texas Workers Compensation
When approved, the claim for benefits compensates the employee for “all health care reasonably required by the nature of the injury and as needed,” according to the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act.
Health care benefits that “cure or relieve the effects naturally resulting from the compensable injury; promotes recovery; or enhances the ability of the employee to return to or retain employment,” are specified in the act. If a person is disabled, he or she can be entitled to disability benefits. The system provides for four types of disability payments:
- Temporary income benefits: if the work-related injury or illness causes loss of some or all wages for more than seven days
- Impairment income benefits: if there is permanent impairment from a work-related injury or illness
- Supplemental income benefits: if there is an impairment rating of 15 percent or more; the employee hasn’t returned to work because of the injury, or the employee returned to work but is earning less than 80 percent of their previous average weekly wage due to impairment; the employee shows an active effort to comply with work search requirements; and the employee did not take a lump-sum payment
- Lifetime income benefits: if the employee has total and permanent eyesight loss in both eyes; loss of both feet above the ankle; loss of both hands at or above the wrist; loss of one foot and one hand; has a spinal injury that results in paralysis of both arms, both legs, or one arm and one leg; experiences a traumatic brain injury resulting in incurable insanity or imbecility; sustains third-degree burns over 40 percent of the body or third-degree burns covering the majority of either both hands or one hand and the face
If the workplace injury resulted in death, a surviving spouse, minor children, dependent grandchildren or other dependents might be entitled to death benefits. Workers compensation will also pay for certain burial expenses.
Hiring an Attorney
It is not necessary to hire a worker’s compensation lawyer for every workplace accident; however, qualified personal injury attorneys should be consulted when someone is injured or killed on the job. In addition to benefits, a person may be able to recover from a third party (not the employer) if negligence caused the accident. The worker’s compensation attorneys at Looney & Conrad, P.C., will analyze the case for you in a free consultation.
When you need a Texas worker’s compensation lawyer, contact
Looney, Smith & Conrad, P.C. at 281-597-8818 or 979-826-8484 or Text Us: 405-388-6191.
Our experienced Texas worker’s compensation attorneys are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for a
free, no-obligation case evaluation.
We serve Houston, the State of Texas and the entire United States.
Abogados De Lesiones Personales