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Don't get messed with in Texas

Texas is often held up as an economic miracle and a great place for workers because there are so many jobs available. But occasionally, a story comes along and reminds us that Texas and its economic wonders, often extracts a high price from those "lucky" workers.

Down there, they allow opt-out, non-subscription insurance policies for workers' compensation coverage, which it turns out, often provides few, if any benefits. A news story tells of a truck driver who was unloading pipe when he fell over backwards and injured his knee.

Because he is a truck driver and not an insurance claims specialist or workers' compensation attorney, he made the mistake of saying his knee "gave way" when he fell, which under the non-subscription policy meant it was not an accident and not covered under the policy.

While in Wisconsin, the injury would likely have been classified as work-related and entitled him to medical coverage and wage replacement while he was recovering, in Texas, he had no medical coverage and because he could not work due to the extreme pain, he was fired. He wound up living in a storage room at his church, homeless, out of work and unable to see a doctor.

After finding an attorney to deal with the arbitration (workers generally have no right to sue on these issues under the terms of the "agreement"), he waited 33 months before he received compensation for his injury.

How much of an outlier is Texas? It is not only the only state that does not require workers' compensation, but it is the only place in the industrialized western world. And a spokesperson for the state's "Association of Business," asserts that if workers' comp were mandatory, employers "would leave the state."

Why? If every other state requires workers' comp, they are not going to get a better deal. Besides, they would have to give up the business of the state's nearly 27 million consumers.

You may wonder why this story is of interest to workers in Wisconsin. Every worker in Wisconsin who is covered by workers' compensation insurance should remember that there are politicians in this state who would very much like to turn Wisconsin into the a similar "workers' paradise."

Houstonpress.com, "JOB IN TEXAS: EMPLOYERS DON’T HAVE TO PROVIDE INJURY COVERAGE," MEAGAN FLYNN, FEBRUARY 2, 2016

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