Rights of Injured Workers
Insight from Houston Workers' Compensation Lawyers
As an employee, you have specific rights when it comes to workplace accidents, on-the-job injuries and occupational illnesses. Understanding these to the fullest extent can help you protect your ability to receive medical treatment and cash benefits under the Texas workers' compensation system. It can also serve to streamline the process of applying for and receiving benefits and addressing any disputes or other issues that may arise. In reviewing the following information and involving a skilled Houston workers' compensation lawyer, you can take a proactive approach to your claim.
If you experience a work-related injury or illness and are covered by workers' compensation, you have the following rights:
- You have the right to workers' comp benefits regardless of who was at fault for your injury. Workers' compensation is a "no-fault" system, meaning you do not have to prove that someone else was to blame in order to recover benefits. There are some exceptions, however, such as if you intentionally caused yourself harm or were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident.
- You have the right to medical treatment for your injury or illness for as long as it is medically necessary. Workers' compensation will cover your medical treatment for as long as is necessary, as long as it is related to your work-related injury.
- You have the right to income benefits for your occupational illness or injury. Workers' compensation provides income benefits in varying amounts based on the extent and duration of your disability. Generally, a portion of your wages will be covered, to a maximum based on the average wage in Texas.
- You have the right to choose your doctor. If you are in a Workers' Compensation Health Care Network, you have the right to choose your doctor from the network's list of treating doctors. If you are not in a network, you may initially choose any doctor, but if you choose to change doctors, the doctor you choose must be pre-approved by the Texas Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC).
- You have the right to confidentiality in regard to your workers' compensation claim. The contents of your workers' compensation claim file are confidential and may only be viewed by your employer or your employer's insurance company. A potential employer may also access limited information, depending on the circumstances.
- You have the right to an attorney. If you would like legal representation in the filing of your workers' compensation claim or in handling any dispute related to your claim, you have the right to hire an attorney to represent your interests.
- You have the right to receive assistance from the Office of Injured Employee Counsel (OIEC). Customer service representatives and advocates from the OIEC can answer your claim-related questions and to provide assistance as needed. Representatives and advocates may not make decisions for you or offer legal advice.
- You have the right to dispute a denied workers' compensation claim. If your self-insured employer or the workers' compensation insurance company has denied your claim, you have the right to dispute this denial through the DWC.
- You have the right to dispute a decision made by a DWC Hearing Officer. If you disagree with a Hearing Officer's decision after a workers' compensation hearing to handle a dispute or denial, you have the right to request a review of this decision by the DWC Appeals Panel.
Find out how a Houston workers' compensation attorney at Stern Law Group can protect your rights to the fullest extent following a work accident or injury. Contact our firm today for a confidential consultation and case review.