There has been much in the news lately about the construction industry here in Texas. Unfortunately, the news is very negative. The state is leading the country in the rate of fatal construction site accidents. Further complicating matters is the fact that Texas is the only state in the U.S. that does not require private employers to carry workers' compensation insurance.
Workers' compensation insurance is meant to provide compensation to those who sustain workplace injuries, so that they will not be unfairly burdened by related medical expenses and lost wages. In cases of workplace fatalities, workers' compensation benefits provide surviving family members with compensation for funeral expenses and a lost source of income, among other damages. When employers are not insured properly, many victims of workplace accidents in Texas never receive the compensation they deserve.
According to the Texas Department of Insurance, workers' compensation benefits are not paid out at all in more than 60 percent of workplace fatalities in the state.
Texas lawmakers are currently considering requiring at least construction contractors to carry workers' compensation insurance for their employees, as well as legislation to mandate breaks for construction workers and to stop the misclassification of employees as contractors.
For now, because of the lack of mandated workers' compensation in this state, many injured workers need to seek legal counsel and head to court in order to obtain compensation for their injuries. In fact, even when employers are covered by workers' compensation insurance it is often necessary to go to court. Those who have been injured in a workplace accident, or have lost someone in a workplace accident, should seek advice from an employment law or personal injury attorney to learn whether it is possible to seek legal recourse.
Source: Houston Chronicle, "Texas is No. 1 in a grim statistic," Rep. Armando Walle, April 1, 2013