On the surface, Texas appears to be in good health in terms of workplace injuries. According to a recent testimony by the Texas Department of Insurance Workers Compensation Commissioner, workplace injuries are declining. As a result, workers compensation insurance rates are remaining quite low.
Workers compensation rates fell by 50 percent from 2003 to 2011. Furthermore, the workers appear to be in better health in recent years. Texas workers have enjoyed a 27 percent decline in workplace injuries and a 22 percent decline in workers compensation claims.
“Since the system reforms passed in 2005, there has been tremendous improvement in everything from medical costs to the lower number of claims disputes we are seeing,” said the commissioner before the Texas House Business and Industry Committee. However, such statistical improvements might be covering up a larger systemic failure.
Are Workers Safe in Texas?
Low workers compensation claims could be indicative of a lack of reporting on the part of the employer. Nearly one-third of all Texas businesses lack workers compensation entirely, and 20 percent of employees work for a company without workers compensation insurance.
According to a report by the University of Texas and the University of Chicago, Texas has the highest rate of on-the-job construction worker fatalities in the nation. Furthermore, one-in-five construction workers have sustained injuries at work that required serious medical attention. All the while, regulation is almost non-existent with only one Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspector for every 100,000 employees statewide.
One 42-year-old Austin construction worker told Aljazeera America that after a workplace injury, “the job is over and it’s your problem.” He said the practice of firing workers immediately after an accident is fairly common. “I have a lot of co-workers who only last a month or so,” he said.
Workers Compensation Attorneys in Austin, TX
It is illegal to fire an employee for an injury. Sadly, many managers assume that their employees are unaware of workers compensation laws. The first thing to do after a workplace injury is to see your doctor and assess the extent of the damage. Then, take your medical records to an experienced workers compensation attorney to learn about your rights as a worker. You may receive compensation for your injuries so that you can enjoy a comfortable recovery without crippling your financial security. Reach out to a trusted workers compensation law firm today to find answers.