Injured on the Job? Take These 4 Steps Immediately

You work in a shoe store in a trendy Houston neighborhood, and your first customer of the day has asked you if you have a particular sandal in her size. When you go to the stockroom to check, you slip in a puddle of mop water that your coworker forgot to clean up the night before. You fall heavily to the floor and sprain your ankle so badly it hurts to stand, let alone walk. Do you have a legal claim against your employer? What should you do next if you do?

Although your ankle is throbbing, it’s important to remain calm and take the following four steps to preserve the integrity of your Texas Workers’ Compensation claim.

  1. Immediately Report the Injury

All serious injuries must be reported immediately. In Texas you have 30 days to report an on-the-job accident and injury to a supervisor, unless it is a repetitive type injury such as carpal tunnel. Ensure that the supervisor or other designated authority completes a written report. 

Even if you think that you hurt nothing more than your pride, fill out a report. Sometimes workers shy away from reporting what appears to be a minor incident, fearing potential retaliation. This could cause a problem if the injury turns out to be more serious than you thought.

  1. Find Witnesses

Witnesses are an important part of a successful workers’ compensation claim. If someone saw you get hurt, get their name and contact information if you don’t know them personally. Since Texas law places the burden of proof on you when it comes to an injury claim, having a witness back you up is important. 

What if no one actually saw you fall? You may still be able to prove your claim if a coworker is able to confirm that they (for example) heard you cry out and found you sitting on the floor clutching your ankle when they came to your assistance.

  1. Seek Treatment from a Doctor of Your Choice

Although your employer may try to send you to a company-approved doctor, Texas workers’ compensation law gives you the right to choose your own physician. At the appointment, be sure to do the following:

  • Describe what happened and where you were injured
  • Provide a complete and accurate medical history regarding any previous injuries as well as medications you are on

Afterwards, ask to review the doctor’s notes to verify that they accurately reflect what you have told them.

  1. Verify that Your Employer Has Workers’ Compensation 

Approximately one-third of all Texas employers do not have workers’ compensation insurance. Although your company is legally required to post a sign stating whether they do or not, this law is not always honored, so ask your supervisor or call the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation.

If workers’ compensation is not offered by your company (in other words, it is a nonsubscriber), it essentially loses all common law defenses against an injured employee suing it for negligence, although the company may have an insurance policy in place to cover such lawsuits.

  1. Overlapping Rights

An injury in some instances may qualify you for protection under the Family Medical Leave Act and protection from harassment, discrimination or retaliation associated with a disability or perceived disability under the American Disability Act, as amended, if other criteria is met. 

As you can see, there are several important and critical steps involved when it comes to filing and handling a workers’ compensation claim and securing your rights under other overlapping employment law to protect you as an employee.   At the Amsberry Law Firm, we are dedicated to protecting the rights of injured employees in Texas from retaliation or violations of the FMLA and ADAA. To schedule a consultation, call us today.

Written by Amsberry Law Firm

Amsberry Law Firm

Mr. Amsberry is board-certified in family and labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is also active in family law, estate and elder law, and business law. He is a proven litigator who has argued before the United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and earned favorable outcomes in complex, precedent-setting employment and civil rights cases. He served as a reservist assistant judge advocate general in the U.S. Army and is a sought-after lecturer and speaker on a range of legal issues.