Construction work is dangerous, and many workers on Texas construction sites risk injuries or death every day. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), one in four workers’ deaths in 2014 was in construction. In Texas, workers have the added challenge that many employers opt out of providing injured employees with workers’ compensation benefits. Fortunately, you could still be entitled to compensation for your injuries whether or not your employer has taken advantage of Texas’ opt-out laws.
Steps to Take to Protect Your Right to Compensation
If you were injured at work, you cannot rely on your employer or its insurance company to voluntarily pay you the compensation you deserve—and need—for your medical bills, lost wages, and emotional trauma. You want to protect your rights and increase the chances of receiving a good settlement by taking the following actions:
- Obtain medical treatment. Obviously, you should obtain prompt medical treatment for any injuries you suffered. Even if you do not think you were hurt, you want to see a doctor soon after your accident. Why? Some injuries—back and neck injuries, traumatic brain injury, and internal bleeding are a few—may not result in any symptoms until days or weeks after the incident. You want to seek medical care right away to prevent your injury from becoming more serious or life-threatening and also to document the causal connection between your injury and the accident.
- File an accident report. Like seeking medical treatment, filing an accident report is important whether or not you believe you suffered injuries in order to document that the accident occurred. You will need it if you later must make a claim for compensation. Obtain a copy of the accident report for your attorney.
- Obtain contact information. You will want to obtain contact information for your employer’s insurance company or representative to make a claim for compensation and any witnesses to your accident.
- Take pictures. Take pictures of the accident scene, any defective equipment, other evidence of what caused your injuries, and of your injuries.
- Do not sign any documents. You do not want to sign a medical release of information or any other document—even to settle your claim—without first reviewing it with an attorney to ensure you do not give up important legal rights.
- Contact an attorney. Contact an attorney as soon as possible after your accident. He can help you build your case by interviewing witnesses while their memories are fresh. He may also visit the accident scene before important evidence is destroyed or the defect repaired, and obtain evidence that could be lost quickly, like surveillance tapes. He can also negotiate a better settlement for you because he will know what your claim is really worth and how to deal with insurance adjusters.
- Make a claim. You need to make a claim for compensation. There are strict time periods for filing a claim in a workers’ compensation case and filing a non-subscriber employer lawsuit if your employer opted out of workers’ comp. To avoid making any inadvertent mistakes, contact an attorney to help you file your claim before it’s too late.
If you were injured in a construction accident, we’re here to help. We help many employees who work for non-subscriber employers. Fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation to learn about your legal options.