Frequently Asked Questions
What do I do if I'm hurt on the job to get workers' compensation?
If you are hurt on the job, you are required to give notice to your employer within 30 days of the injury. Your employer needs to know when and how you were injured, what kinds of injuries you have, if you have seen a doctor. Waiting to report an injury is never a good idea. You may be waiting to see if your pain may go away, maybe you don't want to bother anyone complaining about a little pain. You may even be worried about losing your job. However, I usually hear employers complain that if a person waits to report an injury, they probably are making up a false claim. Obtaining the medical care and the money benefits may be delayed or denied because the boss wasn't told immediately of a potential injury.
A written notice, on a TWCC-41 form, must be filed with the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission within one year from the date of your injury. While I fill out and then file this form for my clients, anyone can get this form from the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission and file on their own. I'm often told by injured workers that their employer filed this form. In the last ten years I have never found that an employer filed this form. Your employer may tell you that they have filed everything that's necessary, but your employer is required to send different forms to the insurance company and the State of Texas about your accident. If you fail to file the TWCC-41 form, your claim may be totally denied.
Why should I hire an attorney?
My job as an attorney is to explain the law to you, make sure required forms are submitted, and represent you at dispute hearings. In 1990, the Texas Workers' Compensation law changed dramatically. It is now rather technical. If certain rules are not followed, your rights to medical care and money can be dismissed. While you are not required to hire an attorney, you need to be careful of where you get your information. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse. The TWCC has a very busy customer service department. Many medical providers have started providing workers' compensation advice although they may limit some of your medical choices, and they may or may not help you through disputes.
How does the attorney get paid?
Generally the attorney's fees are taken out of the claimant's checks. If the injured worker is not receiving money benefits, the attorney is not getting paid. The law requires attorneys to turn in time and expense sheets and then TWCC issues an order for fees based on an hourly rate which is deducted from your check no more than 25% at a time. If you wait to hire an attorney until you have been paid all the benefits you are entitled to, you won't be able to find an attorney willing to work for free. However, if you are not receiving money benefits yet, or are still owed money under the law, an attorney can go ahead and assist you with payment coming later. If the issue is over the entitlement to Supplemental Income Benefits, the insurance company may have to pay your attorney.
What kind of money benefits are paid?
First of all, there are no settlements under workers' compensation. An injured worker who has a medical excuse can receive Temporary Income Benefits (TIBs) after seven days of lost time from work. TIBs last until a doctor says the worker has reached "maximum medical improvement" (MMI) or two years, whichever comes first. A doctor also issues an impairment rating. The insurance company must pay three weeks of Impairment Income Benefits (IIBs) for each impairment point. For example, a 7% impairment rating means the person will receive IIBs for twenty-one weeks. IIBs are paid whether or not the person is working. If the rating is 15% or higher, the claimant is eligible to apply for Supplemental Income Benefits (SIBs).
Related site: Texas Trial Lawyers Association
Here are some useful links for your reference:
Dallas Court of Appeals
G & G Publishing
Social Security Disability FAQ
Texas Attorney General (Child Support Information)
Texas Blue Book (Values of vehicles)
Texas Trial Lawyers Association
Texas Workers Compensation Commission