If you’ve suffered an injury at work, you might be forced to deal with medical treatment for your injury while also experiencing a loss of income if you must miss work to recover. Fortunately, employees who are injured on the job in Texas have certain rights under state law to pursue compensation to cover their injuries and losses.
However, sometimes, injured workers who file a workers’ claim for benefits find themselves terminated by their employer. An employer is not allowed to fire an injured worker to avoid paying a workers’ compensation claim. If your employer fired you after you were injured at work, you need to understand your legal rights and options.
Turn to the attorneys of Herrman & Herrman to discuss your legal options during a free consultation. Our attorneys are skilled in workplace injury law and will fight on your behalf if you have suffered a work-related injury. With more than 100 years of combined experience, our lawyers have successfully obtained compensation and justice for thousands of clients. We aggressively pursue the best possible outcomes for you and work to obtain justice for you.
Contact our firm today for a free initial case evaluation to learn about your legal options. Our friendly and compassionate legal team is ready to help.
Injured at Work Then Fired, What to Do Next?
If you are injured in a workplace accident, your employer may immediately terminate you. Or, your employer may fire you in retaliation after you file a work injury claim against your employer. In either case, your termination after being injured at work may constitute wrongful termination under Texas law.
Texas is an at-will work state and employers can dismiss workers without cause. But there are a few exceptions.
An employer may not fire a worker:
- To avoid liability for a work injury claim.
- As retaliation for an employee filing a work injury claim.
- If an employee seeks legal advice from an attorney regarding their rights after suffering a work injury.
However, employers may be entitled to terminate an injured worker if:
- The worker violated company safety policies prior to being injured.
- The worker fails to comply with company policies following their injury.
- The worker fails to notify the employer of a change in their health or ability to work.
An employer is not required to hold a position open for a worker whose injury prevents him or her from performing the duties of the role. If the worker is expected to remain unable to perform their full duties for an extended period, an employer is permitted to let that employee go to replace them with an able-bodied worker able to perform the job.
What Are My Rights?
When you are injured at work, you need to know your legal rights with respect to your employment and your ability to seek treatment and obtain compensation for your injury. These rights include:
- The right to seek medical treatment for your work injury
- The right to not be forced to return to work until you are released to restricted duty or full duty by your treating physician
- The right to return to your job if you are released to work by your treating physician
- The right to file a workers’ compensation claim if your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance, or to file a workplace injury lawsuit against your employer if they don’t have workers’ comp insurance
- The right to seek and have legal counsel
- The right to refuse offers or incentives from your employer to avoid filing a work injury claim
- The right to be free from harassment by your employer due to your injury
If your work injury was caused by someone other than your employer—for example, if you were hit by a negligent driver when driving for work-related reasons—you also have the right to file a personal injury claim against those responsible for your work injury. Through a personal injury claim, you may seek to recover compensation for losses such as pain and suffering that is not covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
Can I Sue My Employer?
Your right to file a workplace injury lawsuit against your employer in Texas depends on whether your employer has purchased workers’ compensation insurance. Texas does not require private employers to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage.
Employers must inform their employees whether or not the employer has workers’ compensation coverage.
If you work for an employer that provides workers’ compensation benefits to injured employees, you generally cannot sue your employer for a work injury. Instead, you are limited to filing a claim against your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation is considered “no-fault” insurance. You only need to prove that your injury occurred while performing your job. You do not need to prove that your employer somehow caused your injury.
An injured worker may only step outside the workers’ compensation system under limited circumstances, such as if the employer’s intentional conduct caused the worker’s injury.
If the employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, then an injured employee may choose to file an injury lawsuit against the employer whose disregard for safety caused a workplace injury. If you file a workplace injury lawsuit, you will need to prove your employer’s legal liability for your injury by establishing negligence or willful conduct.
In a work injury lawsuit, you may seek to recover the full amount of your medical bills, lost wages, and lost future earnings, in addition to intangible losses arising from your injury, such as pain and suffering and loss of quality of life.
Am I Protected If I’m an Undocumented Immigrant?
Even if you are an undocumented immigrant, you still have rights if you are injured at work. Regardless of your immigration status, you have a right to file a workers’ compensation claim if your employer has insurance coverage or to file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer if workers’ comp coverage is unavailable.
If you pursue a work injury claim against your employer, your immigration status should not become an issue in the case. If your employer attempts to retaliate against you for filing a workplace injury claim by reporting you to federal immigration officials, you may be protected from immigration proceedings during your workplace injury claim.
An undocumented worker who is fired after suffering a work injury may still have a right to pursue a workers’ compensation claim or workplace personal injury claim and seek the compensation due to them under the law. But you will need the guidance of an experienced attorney to have the best chance of winning your case.
Contact a Work Injury Lawyer Today
Contact Herrman & Herrman today or give our firm a call at (361) 882-4357 to speak to one of our knowledgeable workplace injury attorneys. We’ll explain your options for seeking the compensation you need to move forward with your life. We have four convenient office locations across the state of Texas in Corpus Christi, McAllen, San Antonio, and Brownsville, along with a bilingual Spanish– and English-speaking staff to serve you.