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What are workers' compensation rights under Texas law?

The workers' compensation system in Texas is one that is the target of a lot of criticism. On one side you have the business interests who say that the system is too costly and rife with fraud. On the other side are the workers who get injured on the job and who may find themselves on the short end of a very painful stick when it comes to being able to recover and get back to work.

The concept of workers' compensation is that it provides for the medical treatment and recovery needs of someone who is hurt at work, usually without consideration of specific fault. It should come as no surprise that the dueling interests of caring for the injured and determining who pays for that care would spark some tinder. In recent years, that has ignited legislative reform such that some may be unsure of what their rights are. 

Anyone who has been hurt on the job should make the top priority getting any immediate treatment that is needed. If longer-term care or treatment is needed it might be wise to consult with an attorney to determine what their rights may be. These may vary significantly from employer to employer, especially if your company has opted out from the state-run system.

But there are some baseline rights that you should know. Here's an abbreviated list that attempts to hit the high points.

  1. You have a right to an attorney. One won't be appointed for you, but you can hire one to help with your claim.
  1. You can choose the doctor who treats you. There may be some restrictions within specified networks or programs. If you go outside of policy rules, you may have to foot the bill.
  1. Your claim information is confidential. Outside of your employer and the insurance carrier, the claim can't be shared.

In addition to those specific rights, others may be available. It will likely depend on the specific terms of your employer's policy and an attorney's help may be useful in getting a read on what those rights might be and how to go about obtaining the benefits you are due.

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