Take a look at this link from Houston’s ABC affiliate, KTRK’s investigative report. A police officer shot in the line of duty and years later he cannot get medical care. It is sensational because it is a police officer who is fighting to get medical care approved but his experience is no different than workers in any other field. The Texas Workers Compensation system was passed by a legislature that promised lifetime medical care but as anyone who has ever dealt with workers compensation in Texas knows, lifetime medical care is a farce. The Insurance industry is simply not set up to provide lifetime medical care to claimants.

courtesy of KTRK TV

Continue Reading Lifetime Medical Coverage is a Sham

Take a moment to read this investigative journalism piece. Men sent to work at a chicken processing plant for “treatment” rather than go to prison. Chicken processing plants have high incidences of on the job injuries. Program participants that got injured on the job were sent to prison while the owners collected the workers compensation payments. Oh, and the husband and wife got $168,000 a year salaries and the processing company furnished someone to make $250,000 a year as a “consultant.” While this was purportedly a “rehab” program, it is no different from the client stories we hear from workers in meat packing and chicken processing plants across Texas.

Continue Reading All Work, No Pay

Thousands of people are killed every year on the job, and multitudes of others suffer serious injuries. On-the-job injuries account for huge losses of time and productivity, but if you’re hurt at work, these concerns are secondary to your own. These injuries can prevent you from working, result in lost wages and even land you in bankruptcy thanks to high medical bills. Fortunately, there are workers compensation protections, and this is how you can become eligible.

Continue Reading What to Do If You Are Injured on the Job

As the Olympics draws to a close, it is appropriate to compare the drug-testing done for Olympic athletes versus those done to Texas Workers.

Many states, including Texas, have a provision that creates a rebuttable presumption of intoxication when someone tests positive for drugs or alcohol.

However, a new use of drug testing is gaining in prominence in Texas Workers Compensation law that is an abuse of the workers’ compensation system.

Continue Reading Abuse of Drug Testing by Carrier Doctors

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Workers’ compensation is a state-regulated insurance program that pays medical expenses and lost wages of employees who are injured at work or suffer from work-related illnesses. Workers’ compensation cases are treated on a case-by-case basis, which means that employees are treated differently based on the nature and severity of their injuries.

In Texas, the agency responsible for regulating the state’s workers’ compensation system is the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI). Within the TDI exists a smaller division, which carries the sole responsibility of processing and monitoring workers’ compensation claims, called the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC).

Continue Reading Workers’ Compensation: Are you Covered?

In a previous post, I gave an overview of the problem with the state of the intoxication defense in workers’ compensation law in Texas–that it prevents people from recovery, even when their injury had nothing to do with testing positive for drugs. Again, I want to stress that everyone wants to maintain a drug free workplace.  I have lost two family members in incidents caused by a drunk driver — a cousin and an uncle — in separate  events. So, I tend to take a hard view towards injuries caused by intoxication. But that doesn’t mean I think insurance carriers should be excused from covering injuries that they have legally contracted to cover.

Currently, the Division of Workers’ Compensation takes the position that the rebuttable presumption shifts the burden of proof in a workers compensation case. This is contrary to the law of rebuttable presumptions found in virtually every other legal context. In fact, it is contrary to the law as set forth by the Texas Supreme Court.

Continue Reading The Presumption of Intoxication, continued.

I haven’t been able to update my blog because I had been sent a cease and desist letter from the DWC informing me that I was in violation of Texas Labor Code Section 419.002(a) because I had used the words “Texas Workers’ Comp” in this blog’s URL.

Well, today my lawyer filed suit against the DWC in federal court. You can view my petition here:

 

Petition Against DWC

 

I’ll keep people posted on the progress as the case develops.

Recently, I won a workers compensation jury trial on whether or not my client was intoxicated at the time of his injury. Intoxication cases are extremely difficult to win due to both the definition of intoxication and the way that the Division of Workers Compensation decides intoxication cases. There is a strong public policy in favor of maintaining a drug free workplace. However, the Texas Constitution guarantees all persons the right to seek legal remedies for injuries that were not their fault. This is the first of a few posts I plan on making which point out that in our rush to crack down on drugs, the Division and even the courts of the State of Texas have failed to follow the law.

Continue Reading The Presumption of Intoxication

For the attorneys that follow this blog, in a decision that should surprise no one, the Texas Supreme Court refused to review the decision in Texas Mutual Insurance Co. vs. Vista Community Medical Center, LLP. Practitioners will recall that this is the Austin Court of Appeals decision from 2008 that invalidated the stop-loss exception.

Hospitals that treat workers’ compensation patients in Texas are reimbursed under the state’s workers’ compensation in-patient fee schedule.The 1997 fee schedule, which was repealed in 2008, included a stop-loss exception. Under the stop-loss exception, hospitals could be paid more than the fee schedule if they met certain criteria. The dispute between Texas Mutual and Vista centered on those criteria. Texas Mutual argued that the stop-loss exception should be applied to admissions involving charges of more than $40,000 and “unusually extensive services.” Vista countered that the exception applied to all admissions for which they charged more than $40,000.

The stop-loss rule has since been repealed. However, many fee disputes remained outstanding under the old rule.