Texas Workers’ Comp, Who is My Employer?

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Employment in the last 20 years has changed greatly.  In the past you finished school, found a job and then worked until you retired at the age of 65.  In today’s market, employees are laid off with every down turn of the economy.  Others have jobs where they are permanently employed through a temporary service or are called independent contractors.

When an injury occurs at work, who is your employer?  Most modern companies are actually a number of companies handling different aspects of the business.  The first thing to do is to look at your pay stub.  Most will have the name of the payer.  This is a good start on establishing the actual name of your employer.

The Texas Division of Workers’ Compensation defines employer as a person who makes a contract of hire, employs one or more employees, and has workers’ compensation insurance coverage.  However, when there are multiple potential employers, you may run into problems that some are subscribers to the Texas Workers’ Compensation system and some are not.  Finally, the law defines an independent contractor not just your employer calling you one.

Temporary Service:

Many workers are now employed by Temp Services.  If you work for a temp service, file the claim against them.  If you find out that they are a non-subscriber to Texas Workers’ Compensation (they have an alternative form of insurance), you can possibly file a claim against the company that the temp service sent you to.

When deciding which company is liable for your claim, the Division of Workers’ Compensation will look at who had the right of control over the employee’s activities.  The Borrowed Servant Doctrine is when you work for one employer, but get injured while under the control of another of another company.  This will allow you to receive benefits from the employer controlling your activities.

Independent Contractor:

In general an independent contractor is not an employee.  However, the determination is not made by the employer.  The Texas Division of Workers’ Compensation will determine if the employer had a right to control the details of the work performed.

To be considered an independent contractor, it must be shown that the person:

1)  acts as the employer of any employee of the contractor by paying wages, directing activities, and performing other similar functions characteristic of an employer-employee relationship;

2)  is free to determine the manner in which the work or service is performed, including the hours of labor of or method of payment to any employee;

3)  is required to furnish or to have employees, if any, furnish necessary tools, supplies, or materials to perform the work or service;  and

4)  possesses the skills required for the specific work or service.

The IW has the burden of proof to establish that he/she was an employee of the employer for purposes of the Act at the time the injury occurred.  However, you should always use an attorney familiar with workers’ compensation issues.  If you have any questions about your workers’ compensation contact, call the Dallas office of The Morris Law Firm at (214)357-1782 or via email at info@themorrisfirm.net.

 

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How Do I Get Divorced In Texas?

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Many people that in a marriage relationship separate, stop living together and even lose touch.  But, what happens when you want to move on with your life?  How do you remove your ex from your insurance, estate or even a lottery win?  How can you marry another person when you’ve already married?  In Texas you generally need to go through a formal divorce proceeding.

Residency

The first thing you need to do, is determine if one of you has lived in Texas for the last six months and in the county that the case is filed in for at least the last ninety days.  With this, at least one of you is a resident and Texas and the county can have jurisdiction over the claim.

 

Grounds for Divorce

Next, you need to state the grounds for the divorce.  Insupportability is the most common now days.  It means that there is no finding of fault with either of you, you just have differences which can not be overcome. The other grounds may be claimed to allow a divorce are:

  • Cruelty
  • Adultery
  • Conviction of a Felony
  • Abandonment
  • Living apart
  • Confinement in a mental hospital

 

Children and Things

You next need to determine how you want your assets and debts divided.  How are you going to pay your bills without your spouse? Where are you going to live? And, what about simple things like furniture and dishes?

Many people wait too long to think about their assets and their debt. You need to make plans on how you will get by.  Save up if you need to.  Texas is a community property State.  You need to understand what is your separate property and what is community property.

If you have children, are they going to live with you or your spouse?  Is there going to be child support?  If you are discussing the divorce, it is best to understand these issues before the litigation begins.  Are these issues agreed to by you and your spouse or do they need to be determined by the court?

Attorney

Do you need an attorney to assist in the divorce?  Do you each need your own, or can you share the same attorney?

I worked as a plumbers helped when I was a teenager.  But, when I need plumbing done, I call a professional plumber to handle it.  It is faster and usually cheaper.  The same applies to using an attorney.  They know the laws and procedures and are there to advise you on what is your best interest.  Many people spend a lot of money fighting over something that is irrelevant to their divorce.

I would always recommend that each of you has their own attorney, even if you are still getting along.  If you do, it is more likely that you will stay civil with each other.

Petition for Divorce

The next step is to file a Petition for Divorce with the court.  This is usually done at the district or county clerks office in the courthouse.  The petition will generally need to have the required information and either a location to serve notice upon your spouse or a waiver of service signed by them.

Once your spouse is given notice, you have begun divorce proceedings.  There is a standard waiting period of ninety days before you can get a final decree of divorce.  But, if there are complications, you divorce could take a lot longer to be finalized.

What Could Happen After My First Charge For DWI?

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Many people in Texas enjoy having a few beers at the sports bar or having a glass of wine at dinner.  Unfortunately, if you drive home after having a few drinks and you get pulled over, your likely going to be charged with a DWI.

The first thing to expect is that you are going to be arrested.  If there is not a sober driving to take control of your vehicle, it will be impounded.  So not only do you need to bond yourself out of jail, your going to pay to get your vehicle back.

In most cases, your drivers license will be confiscated and you will be given a temporary driving permit.  The Administrative License Revocation (ALR) suspension starts forty days after the arrest unless the person requests a hearing for an occupational license within 15 days of the arrest.

As long as your blood or breath alcohol concentration is below .15, you are over 21 years of age, there were no children in your vehicle at the time and you were not involved in an accident, you will likely be charged with a Class B misdemeanor.

The Class B misdemeanor will include probation up to two years, monthly probation fees, court costs, a fine up to $2,000.00, complete all classes and counseling ordered by the court and probation office and community service hours at a place determined by the probation office.  The court may also require you pay to have an ignition interlock installed in your vehicle and to pay a monthly charge to maintain it.

This does not include how your vehicle insurance will be affected, or what will happen with your employment.  If you’ve had a few drinks, call a friend to come get you, call a taxi or Uber.  If you don’t one of your next calls needs to be to an attorney.  Drive safe.

Daniel L Morris, The Morris Law Firm, (214)357-1782 info@themorrisfirm.net

When Does My Worker Comp Case Close?

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If you have a compensable workers’ compensation claim in Texas, it never actually closes.  Workers’ compensation claims handle the medical and the indemnity (payments to you) separately.

Financial Benefits:

You can receive disability payments (TIBs) while you are unable to earn your full wages for up to 104 weeks or until you are certified at Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), whichever happens first.

After that, you will receive benefits for any impairment you have (IIBs). You receive three weeks of payments for each point of impairment.  Hopefully, you are working at the same time because there payments are not disability payments.

There are additional benefits for serious injuries.  You can look at our additional posts to learn about these benefits.

Medical Benefits:

Medical benefits are defined under the Texas Labor Code as payments for health care reasonably required by the nature of a compensable injury and intended to:

  • cure or relieve the effects naturally resulting from the compensable injury, including reasonable expenses incurred by the employee for necessary treatment to cure and relieve the employee from the effects of an occupational disease before and after the employee knew or should have known the nature of the disability and its relationship to the employment;
  • promote recovery;  or
  • enhance the ability of the employee to return to or retain employment.

Conclussion:

Although your indemnity benefits will not likely last three years, your medical benefits do not end until you have completely recovered from the effects of your injury.

Daniel L Morris, The Morris Law Firm, (214)357-1782, info@themorrisfirm.net

Texas Workers Compensation: Car Wreck While at Work

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In today’s world many Texan’s travel as part of their job.  This travel may be in the worker’s own vehicle, a coworker or one provided by their company.  Unfortunately, traveling on our roads and highways places us at risk for an accident.  Accidents occur as the result of the negligence of the other vehicle, our own negligence or even just dangerous road conditions.

If you or a loved one have been in an auto accident while in the “course and scope” of your employment, you need to have the accident reviewed by a professional to see if you have more than one cause of action.

After any auto accident, the case needs to determine, what caused the accident.  If someone else caused the accident, you have a claim against that person.  These claims are usually handled by their vehicles insurance carrier.  If the accident was unavoidable or your fault, you still may have a claim under your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) to help to cover your damages.

However, Texas Workers’ Compensation claims are “No Fault” claims.  This means that it was not matter how the injuries occurred.  If you are in the “course and scope” of your employment when your accident occurred, you have a claim.  There are a few exceptions (ie you were intoxicated at the time).

After any accident, it is hard to pay for your medical bills on top of our normal bills.  The pain and recovery from injuries at the same time, just make it worse.  but, if you’ve had an auto accident while at work, you may have more than one type of insurance claim to help you recover your damages and injuries.

Medical Source Statements Social Security Disability

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The social security disability process requires you to prove that you are disabled.  You may have to do this multiple times.  For instance, you may to prove this when you submit your application, and again if you have to appeal a denial and appear in front of a judge.  Usually, the best evidence is medical evidence – and the best medical evidence is something we call a Medical Source Statement or a Residual Functional Capacity Assessment.

You will need to present this form to your doctor and ask her to fill it out.  I’ve provided a link to an example of a Medical Source Statement below.  Basically, this form allows your doctor to explain your diagnosis, the testing you have undergone, and how your mental or physical condition affects your functional ability.  Your primary care doctor or a specialist who has treated you will be the best doctors to ask to fill this form out.

When you ask your doctor to fill out this form, ask her to be as specific as possible – not just about the fact that you have pain, but in the details about what you can and cannot do.  You will want the doctor to explain that your pain affects things like how long you can sit or stand during a work day and how much you can lift at any one time.

It’s common for people to think that if they give the Social Security Administration all of their medical records, then a Residual Functional Capacity Assessment is not necessary.  If you only rely on your medical records, then there is no explanation of what those records mean.  You might have an x-ray or an MRI that shows what is wrong with you, but those tests don’t explain how your condition limits your ability to work.  But a Medical Source Statement does.

You want to make it as easy as possible for the judge to rule in your favor.  A Medical Source Statement gives the judge an easy to use piece of evidence to do that.  Even if you have to pay the doctor to fill it out, it will be worth it when you win.

An example of this type of form can be found at Source Link