For Good or Ill, Texas Big Oil is Back States Attorney Brooks Schuelke
Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) September 15, 2014 – Big oil drives the economy in Texas, but the industry is also responsible for a high number of workplace deaths.
“It’s hard to miss the construction boom going on in Texas with the resurgence of big oil. Along with progress, though, often comes greed, underregulation, out-of-control spending and a distinct lack of due attention to safety on construction and other work sites,” said Austin workplace injury lawyer Brooks Schuelke of Perlmutter & Schuelke, LLP.
While the economy thrives, Texas workers die. The Lone Star State has led the nation in on-the-job deaths for seven of the last 10 years. Injured and dead workers have the worst protection and benefits in the United States. Even though Texas does have a division for workers’ compensation, it is the lone state that does not mandate private employers to carry workers’ compensation or anything equal to it.
More than 50,000 workers would be without occupational benefits should they sustain serious injuries or die on the job.
Employers who state that they offer private occupational insurance rarely offer full benefits. Typically, they offer limited benefits, poor heath care coverage and skimpy legal rights. “Those plans are not regulated, so they can be created to say just about anything,” Schuelke noted. According to a state survey of unregulated plans, only 41 percent include death benefits.
Workers’ compensation benefits, according to the Texas division, say they include partial income replacement, lifetime medical benefits and death benefits. However, when workers exercise their right to claim, they often face flat-out denial or attempts to diminish the claim and dispute it. Most workers lose their cases. “The fundamental flaw in this system is that workers are not the focus. The focus is on business,” Schuelke pointed out.
Track records show that if insurance is not mandated, many employers will simply hope nothing happens.
When workers are not able to obtain proper compensation to get medical help from federal disability programs (if they qualify), public hospitals and charities are often able to assist. They can and have saved lives. But these workers should never have become the taxpayer’s responsibility.
Too often, Texas workers find that they are on their own if they are injured on the job, whether or not they have some type of coverage in place. “My door is always open to Texas workers injured on the job. Tell me your story, and we can discuss your options. There is a way for you to seek justice,” said Schuelke.
Perlmutter & Schuelke, PLLC
206 East 9th Street, Ste. 1511
Austin, TX 78701
Call (512) 476-4944
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