happy older man talking to doctorYes, in most cases, you should be able to choose your own doctor for the treatment of a work-related injury if your employer does not subscribe to Texas workers’ compensation.

Texas is the only state in the U.S. that makes the purchase of workers’ comp insurance optional for employers.

Texas employers who do subscribe may require injured employees to seek care from a doctor of the employer’s choosing, and the employee may not sue the employer for damages resulting from a work-related injury.

Even if your employer opts not to subscribe to workers’ comp, it could still set up an independent compensation program for its workers, who might have to sign a contract requiring them to see a doctor recommended by the employer.

If, our personal injury lawyer adds, your employer is a non-subscriber and you have not agreed to seek care from a specified doctor, you may sue the employer for damages resulting from your accident, and you may see a doctor of your own choosing.

What Happens When Your Employer Does Subscribe to Workers’ Comp

An employee of a business or company that does subscribe to workers’ comp may file a claim for benefits after a work-related accidental injury, but those benefits are not guaranteed in every case. The employer’s insurance company, which actually pays workers’ comp claims, can look for ways to dispute, devalue, or deny your claim, especially if it’s an expensive one involving costly medical care and a long recovery during which you cannot work.

Even if a workers’ comp claim is successful, the employee is reimbursed only for medical expenses and two-thirds of lost wages. There is no compensation for the remaining one-third of lost wages or for the pain and suffering that result from the work-related injury, and the employee is generally prohibited from filing a civil lawsuit against the employer. Furthermore, a subscribing employer may require you to see a physician who is certified and recommended by its insurer.

This means that the insurer has influence over the doctor and can save money by pressuring that doctor to downplay the seriousness of your injury, keep your medical expenses low, and get you back to work soon, possibly before you’re completely recovered.

Advantages of Working for Non-Subscriber

All employers in Texas, regardless of whether they subscribe to workers’ comp, are required to provide their employees with a safe workplace and to be prudent about employees’ safety on the job.

If you are nevertheless injured in the course of performing your job duties for a non-subscriber, you may file a suit against your employer for your work-related injury and demand not only medical expenses but also full compensation for lost wages as well as pain and suffering. Furthermore, you may see a doctor of your own choosing who has no relationship with your employer and, thus, no conflict of interest.

Emergency Exception

If your injury requires immediate medical attention, then you might have to accept initial treatment from a doctor or another health care professional on-site at your workplace. Once you’ve been stabilized, though, you may continue treatment with your own doctor. You should keep receipts and documentation of all your treatment and care following your accident.

Consult a Work Injury Attorney

If you choose to file a lawsuit against your employer for all your medical expenses, all your lost income, and your pain and suffering, you’re well advised to consult a work injury attorney who can evaluate your case, explain your options, and decide whether to represent you. Legal representation is generally necessary for injured employees seeking fair compensation in court. Just the filing of a civil suit by your lawyer will get the attention of the employer’s attorneys, who know that your own lawyer can help you in a number of ways to prevail in your lawsuit:

  • Investigating your accident and interviewing eyewitnesses to prove your employer’s negligence
  • Consulting your health care provider(s) to determine your future medical needs and estimated expenses
  • Organizing your medical evidence and presenting it convincingly 
  • Calling in expert witnesses or a vocational specialist in some cases
  • Projecting your future lost income
  • Monetizing your pain and suffering
  • Making a reasonable demand for compensation and negotiating for an out-of-court settlement if possible
  • Fighting for you at trial if a reasonable award is not offered
  • Making sure you observe the statute of limitations