For non-federal employees, every state has a unique process in place for handling workers’ compensation claims. Texas employees with a workplace injury or occupational illness should follow the steps outlined below to apply for benefits. We’ll also explore how the Texas workers’ compensation program statistics changed from 2013-2017.
Does Your Employer Have Texas Workers’ Compensation Coverage?
Unlike nearly every other U.S. state and territory, Texas workers’ compensation coverage is completely optional for employers. That means you must first confirm that your employer provides Texas workers’ compensation insurance coverage before filing your claim. Legally, Texas employers can purchase individual commercial policies for workers’ compensation coverage from insurance companies or apply for self-insured status. Either way, if your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance, then you must file a claim to qualify for benefits. If your employer doesn’t have insurance, you’ll have to file a personal injury lawsuit for medical bills and lost wages.
To check your coverage status online, visit the Texas Division of Workers’ Compensation insurance verification website. Texas law requires every employer to display a poster informing employees if they have workers’ compensation insurance. Employers with workers’ compensation coverage should display this poster (Notice 6). Legally, all Texas employers without workers’ comp coverage must also prominently display this poster (Notice 5) in the workplace.
If you get hurt or sick at work and your employer doesn’t provide coverage, you have the right to sue. But if suing your employer’s your only option, get a free personal injury claim evaluation online first.
How to File Your Texas Workers’ Compensation Claim
After you confirm your employer has workers’ compensation coverage, follow these steps to file your claim:
- You have 30 days from the date your workplace injury or illness occurred to notify your employer. Waiting any longer to report your work-related injury or illness could make you ineligible for workers’ comp benefits. Always seek emergency medical treatment first, if needed.
- You have one calendar year from the date you got sick or hurt at work to file your claim. To get your claim started, fill out Form DWC-01.You can also file your workers’ comp claim directly through the DWC’s website, if you prefer.
- Once the DWC receives your initial paperwork, your employer’s insurance company will review it before accepting or denying your claim.
- If the insurance company denies your claim, then you have 90 days to appeal. Contact the Office of Injured Employee Counsel (OIEC) for information or talk to a workers’ compensation lawyer for free.
Every workers’ compensation case is different, and your personal experience may not follow the exact steps we’ve listed here. Texas law encourages injured and sick employees to participate in return-to-work programs, and refusing light-duty tasks may terminate your benefits.
Texas Workers’ Compensation Statistics
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) issues an annual statistical report covering the workers’ compensation program in almost every state. These reports list total workers’ compensation claims filed, how many employees missed work or changed jobs, and job sector-specific data. Our chart below shows how the Texas workers’ compensation program changed from 2013 to 2017.
You can clearly see that workers’ compensation claims rose significantly in 2015 compared to other years. More than half those claims (just over 51%) were 131,700 service industry workers who got sick or injured at work. Employees missing work, changing jobs or receiving restrictions showed few changes during this five-year period. Texas is the only U.S. state or territory that makes workers’ compensation coverage optional for every employer in the state. Most other states have mandatory workers’ compensation coverage requirements in place. Only Texas employees have to worry about verifying coverage.
You May Qualify for Legal Assistance
Many injured workers find Texas workers’ compensation claims process confusing or frustrating. However, an advocate in our network can review your claim paperwork in person and answer your questions privately for free. Whether you just want a second opinion about your case or need someone to help you get the most workers’ comp benefits that you deserve, we can help.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free online benefits evaluation now!
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.