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Are Workers’ Compensation Settlements Taxable in Texas?

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Obtaining a workers’ compensation settlement can be a time of relief and excitement as an injured employee in Texas. With the money you need to pay off your medical bills and replace lost income finally in your account, you and your family may have peace of mind as you look toward the future. Come tax time, however, you may encounter another issue – determining whether your workers’ compensation settlement is taxable.

In General, Workers’ Comp Settlements Are Not Taxable

For the most part, you will not have to list workers’ compensation settlement money as income when filing your taxes. You will typically not have to pay taxes on a workers’ compensation settlement at the state or federal level in Texas. Texas law does not deem compensatory damages awarded for bodily injuries – including workers’ compensation settlements – as taxable income, with a few exceptions.

When an insurance company gives an employee compensation for an occupational injury or illness under Texas’ workers’ compensation statute, the amount received is nontaxable. The same is true for a surviving family member who receives workers’ compensation benefits for the death of a loved one on the job. Workers’ compensation settlements are also tax-exempt under federal law.

Exceptions to the Rule

If you also qualify for Social Security benefits, however, such as supplemental income or disability compensation, you may have to pay taxes on a portion of your workers’ comp settlement. The government will reduce your benefits from the Social Security system. The difference your workers’ compensation check creates will be taxable. The taxable amount is typically small, however.

You may have to pay taxes if you add half of your Social Security benefits to your other income and the amount comes to more than $25,000 for a single tax filer, $32,000 for a married tax filer or $0 for a couple that is married filing separately who lived together during the year. In these situations, the federal government will require you to pay taxes on the full amount of your Social Security income, even if your workers’ compensation settlement reduced your benefits.

Parts of a Personal Injury Settlement Are Taxable

Texas is the only state that does not have a law requiring workers’ compensation insurance. If you resolve your workplace injury claim through another outlet, such as a civil lawsuit, you may have to pay federal taxes on part of the award received. In general, you will have to pay taxes on any portion of your settlement or jury verdict given as punitive damages, but not bodily injuries or physical sickness compensation.

Any financial recovery you obtain for medical bills is nontaxable unless you deducted what you spent in medical care in the previous year. You cannot list medical payments as a deduction one year and then keep 100% of the money won in a settlement without paying taxes on it in another year. Any money you receive for pain and suffering will also be nontaxable as long as you also recover compensation for physical injuries. A settlement for emotional distress only will be subject to taxation under federal law. A personal injury lawyer can help you structure the settlement or verdict received through a civil lawsuit in a way that minimizes your tax responsibility.

How a Lawyer Can Help

The information here is not legal advice. Each injured worker’s situation is unique. It is critical to contact a Texas workers’ compensation attorney who can give you legal advice as to the taxation of your settlement award. Otherwise, you could end up keeping money you lawfully owe the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Getting into debt with the IRS could lead to serious penalties such as late fees, fines and even tax fraud charges. Work with a lawyer during your workers’ compensation claim from the beginning to make sure you obey relevant tax laws and understand which portion of your settlement might be taxable.

Posted by admin at 7:12 pm

4 Common Injuries at the Office

Monday, August 26, 2019

When you imagine workplace accidents, you may picture construction sites, manufacturing plants or the commercial trucking industry. You may not immediately think about your own workplace – the office. Yet an office can pose as many health risks and safety hazards to workers as a more dangerous workplace. A slip-and-fall accident, fall down the stairs, elevator accident, repetitive motions or acts of violence from a coworker could lead to life-altering personal injuries. You may be eligible for compensation if you suffer an injury at the office in Dallas.

Fall Injuries

Falls kill more construction workers than any other hazard each year, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration data. In 2017, 381 construction workers died in fatal fall accidents in the U.S. Construction sites are not the only places where falls occur, however. Falls are also the most common injury-related accident in the office. An office space could have many fall hazards waiting to cause serious injuries.

  • Poor lighting
  • Loose carpets
  • Electrical cords or computer wires
  • Slippery surfaces
  • Food debris in the kitchen
  • Dangerous staircases
  • Unstable chairs
  • Cluttered walkways
  • An open filing cabinet or desk drawers

Fall accidents in the office can cause sprained wrists and ankles, pulled muscles, bone fractures, head injuries, lacerations and traumatic brain damage. A bad fall could put you out of commission for weeks or months. During this time, you may lose wages and miss important opportunities for raises or promotions. You may also face expensive medical bills for your fall-related injury treatments.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue and repetitive motion injuries are also common in U.S. offices. Office jobs that require a great deal of sitting, typing, lifting, moving boxes or straining to reach items could lead to many worker injuries. Muscle sprains and strains are common, especially in the back and neck. Carpal tunnel syndrome is also common among office workers and people who work on assembly lines. Carpal tunnel affects the arms, wrists and hands and may require surgery to treat.

Object-Related Injuries

There might not be as many tools or materials flying through the air as at some workplaces, but the office can still pose a threat of objects striking or injuring workers. Look out for items sitting precariously on shelves or cabinet tops that could fall and strike sitting workers. Always be aware of the space you are in to avoid running into desks, chairs, tables, cabinets and other office furniture. Take care not to slam your fingers in a desk drawer, get jewelry caught in a paper shredder or topple unbalanced cabinets. These incidents could cause painful and temporarily debilitating injuries.

Violent Injuries

Surprisingly, acts of violence are a common cause of injuries in the workplace. Workplace violence can involve discrimination, harassment, assault, sexual assault, threats, intimidation and disruptive behaviors. Assaults at work could cause serious wounds such as gunshots or stabbings. You may be able to file a civil claim against your attacker during an ongoing criminal investigation or trial in Texas.

Can You Seek Legal Help?

Texas is unique in that it does not make workers’ compensation insurance mandatory for employers. Although some employers in Texas have workers’ compensation, others do not. For this reason, it is wise to seek legal help after an office injury in Texas. Your boss may not have workers’ compensation insurance, leaving you with limited options for financial recovery.

If your employer could have prevented your accident, you may have grounds for a civil action against the company. An insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit could result in payment for your hospital bills, long-term health care costs, disability, lost wages and more. You may also have grounds for a claim against an office product manufacturer for an unstable or defective item. Hiring a Dallas personal attorney after an office injury could help you recover fair compensation for your damages. 

Posted by admin at 3:18 pm

How to Stay Safe in Extreme Heat

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Spring is on the horizon, which means sweltering temperatures will once more prevail in the Texas area. Extreme heat can be dangerous, especially to populations such as young children and the elderly. Prolonged exposure to hot temperature can cause dehydration, fatigue, and a deadly condition called heat stroke. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to stay safe, even on the hottest of Texas spring and summer days:

Drink Up

One of the simplest ways to reduce your risk of heat stroke is by drinking plenty of water. Aim for at least 64 ounces a day – the equivalent of eight glasses. If you work outdoors, you might need more to replace the fluids you lose through perspiration. Electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade can also help replace important nutrients you may lose working outside.

Fluids are important; but so is their quality. Avoid sugar-laden sodas and other beverages with caffeine. These drinks act as diuretics and cause you to lose water, not replace it. Stick to refreshing iced water and consider adding a lemon or other fresh fruit for taste if desired.

Take Breaks

If you work outside, try to schedule most of your activities for the cooler times of day. Temperatures are generally hottest between 10 am and 4 pm, so try to complete any outdoor work in the early morning or evening hours.

If you must work during the hottest part of the day, seek shade whenever possible. Use umbrellas, canopies, or any other device that can limit your exposure to the sun. Wear clothing with UV protection if possible and load up on the heavy-duty sunblock.

Know the Signs of Heat-Related Illness

There are several kinds of heat-related illness that can lead to dangerous consequences. Here are some of the most common:

  • Heat rash. This is skin irritation that’s triggered by sweating. You may have heat rash if you notice red clusters of blisters on your body. Though not life threatening, heat rash can be uncomfortable and is a sure sign that you need a break from the heat.
  • Heat cramps. These are painful cramps that result from imbalanced electrolytes, usually due to excessive sweating. You may notice pain or spasms in the arms, legs, or abdomen.
  • Heat exhaustion. This heat-related condition is your body’s response to dehydration. You may notice weakness or fatigue, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, muscle cramps, flushed skin, excessive sweating, or clamminess.
  • Heat stroke. The most serious of the heat-related illnesses, a heat stroke occurs when the body stops sweating and your internal body temperature rises. Symptoms include redness in the absence of sweating, a rapid pulse, chills, slurred speech, mental confusion, and a high body temperature. This is a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate medical attention.

If you notice any signs of heat-related illness, stop what you’re doing and go indoors. Drink cool water, but not too fast. If you or someone you know exhibits signs of heat stroke, call emergency medical services, or take them to the nearest emergency room.

If you routinely work in extreme heat, pace yourself. Take frequent breaks, seek shade, and drink plenty of water and other electrolyte-balancing fluids. Avoid sugary liquids and carbonated drinks. Wear light reflective clothing with SPF protection if possible and be aware of any signs of heat-related illness. Do whatever it takes to avoid being in direct sun for prolonged periods of time.

The Texas summer swelter will be here before you know it. Working in our extreme heat can be dangerous, but there are a few simple ways you can enhance your safety. Follow these tips for a safe and healthy summer.

Posted by admin at 5:14 pm

What Is Third-Party Liability?

Monday, February 12, 2018

Receiving compensation for your injuries after an injury on the job may simply require reporting the accident to your employer and immediately seeking medical treatment. This procedure doesn’t always award you with adequate financial support or address issues of third-party liability in your accident. In Dallas, the attorneys of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C., have the experience to evaluate when your claim may involve third-party liability and the expertise to pursue a claim so you can receive your due compensation.

Workers’ Compensation Claims

The most typical third-party liability claims result from complex workers’ compensation cases. In a typical workers’ compensation claim, there is no need to determine or establish who was at fault in the accident. Even if you were primarily responsible for the accident that resulted in your injury, worker’s compensation will provide for medical expenses and missed wages due to lost time at work.

Insurers call these no-fault claims because they pay the claim regardless of fault in the accident. The advantage to the worker is that he or she receives money from their claims faster. An insurer won’t deny a claim simply because the worker may have been responsible for contributing to his or her own injury. There are drawbacks, though. There are limits to the amount of compensation most workers’ compensation policies pay. In many cases, your injury-related expenses may exceed what you are able to receive from workers’ compensation, or you may have been able to receive more if you were to pursue compensation through more traditional personal injury cases.

Employers in Texas may opt to forego purchasing workers’ compensation insurance. In these cases, the damages you can claim are greater, but you must prove fault in a claim in order to collect compensation. Even in such cases, you may not be able to collect the total amount of damages a labile party owes you if the business is small or does not have the resources to pay for an expensive claim.

What Is a Third-Party Liability Claim?

There two parties in an ordinary workers’ compensation claim: the employee and the employer. The workers’ compensation insurance steps in to cover the expenses for the employer. However, in some cases, there may be someone else responsible for the accident unrelated to the employer or employee. This is when a third-party claim may arise.

In a third-party liability claim, the injured employee may pursue compensation from the third party that was responsible for the accident and injury. For example, if you are driving for your job and suffer an injury in a car accident that a driver caused when he or she ran a red light, you qualify for workers’ compensation. You also may be able to seek compensation from the at-fault driver. Other examples include injuries someone suffers as a result of defective equipment, in which the manufacturer might be the third party, or an injury suffered on the premises of another business you were visiting for work.

Why Pursue a Third-Party Liability Claim?

Worker’s compensation insurance typically pays only economic damages. That is, the policy covers medical expenses, lost wages, and costs for rehabilitation to return to work, but no other compensation. If a third party was responsible for your injury, you may pursue compensation for pain and suffering, and even mental and emotional distress suffered as a result of the injury. You may pursue damages owing to disfigurement if you have sustained substantial scarring or other unsightly reminders of your injury.

Third-party liability claims require proof the third party was at fault in causing your injury. Even if you were partially responsible for causing the accident, you still may be able to claim compensation for your injuries.

Posted by admin at 10:45 pm

What Are Some of the Most Common Injuries for Oil and Gas Employees?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Employees get injured on the job every day. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were nearly 3 million workplace-related illnesses and injuries reported in 2015, or a rate of 3 cases per 100,000 employees. Some jobs are naturally more hazardous than others, and the oil and gas industry is one of the nation’s most dangerous. The same report found that the rate of injury and illness among oil and gas workers was five times that of the general worker population, or 15 reported cases per 100,000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 142 deaths in the oil industry in 2015, a 27% increase from the previous year.

What Are the Most Common Workplace Injuries?

Oil workers are prone to all manner of injury, due to the natural hazards of the job. But the most common types of injury are not what you might think. Here are the highlights:

  1. Driving Is the Most Dangerous Job in the Oil Industry

Most oil workers are not killed in the field or on the rig itself, but on the highway. Over 300 oil and gas workers have been killed on the road in the past decade. One of them was Timothy Roth, who boarded a truck after a 17 hour shift with three coworkers to begin the long 4 hour commute home to West Virginia. Just ten minutes into their journey, the driver fell asleep, crashing the vehicle and killing Mr. Roth.

Stories like these are not uncommon, as workers are expected to pull long shifts hours away from their homes. Oil field employees are not subject to the regulations that keep truck drivers from working long shifts on the road, which pressures employees to make long commutes home after shifts that can be 20 hours or longer.

  1. Machine-Related Injuries

Oil companies use heavy machinery and hazardous equipment, which leads to workplace injury. Derricks, heavy lifts, hoists, drillers, and loading and unloading materials can all cause trauma or crush injuries. Additionally, machines used in drilling are loud and can cause hearing loss or even loss of balance when they disturb the inner ear. Operators must wear appropriate protective gear, such as earplugs and gloves while operating equipment.

Unfortunately, combining the hazardous equipment with long shifts and worker fatigue can be a recipe for disaster. Workers can suffer crush injury, dismemberment, or even death from being caught in pumps and compressors. Oil companies have a duty to follow OSHA regulations to minimize the risk of these types of injuries by checking their equipment often and making sure employees have proper safety gear and breaks.

  1. Illness From Chemical Exposure

Chemical exposure is common in the oil fields. The processes involved in drilling can release noxious chemicals into the work area. Most notably, oil refineries can release hydrofluoric acid, which can scar lungs and cause death by asphyxiation. It’s so noxious that it can permeate the skin and react with calcium deep within our bones.

Prolonged exposure to other chemicals in refineries and wells can lead to respiratory problems, brain injury, paralysis, leukemia, and other kinds of cancer.

In the short term, workers who are exposed to oil industry chemicals report headache, nausea, fatigues, eye irritation, and chemical burns. It’s essential to wear proper protection and respiratory masks when working both on the rig and in the refinery.

Oil workers can also be killed in fires and explosions, as oil is filled with highly combustible gasses. These accidents can happen with little warning, and are hard to prevent (though they are relatively rare). Employers must have a proper fire prevention plan in place, and take every precaution necessary to avoid a tragedy.

Posted by admin at 5:20 pm

What Are Some Tips to Prevent Workplace Slips & Falls?

Friday, September 30, 2016

Workplace slip and fall accidents are one of the most common causes of injury. This type of incident causes 15% of all accidental deaths—second only to motor vehicle accidents. The greatest number of fatal falls occurs in the construction industry, but virtually every industry has this risk. The health services and retail industries have the highest number of nonfatal slip and fall accidents. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has rules employers must follow to prevent slips and falls, and the best way to protect yourself is to be proactive.

Pay Attention While You Walk

A second of inattention can lead to a catastrophic slip and fall accident, especially if you work from great heights or with dangerous equipment. Texting and walking, for example, can result in falling down a flight of stairs, slipping on an obvious spill, or tripping over an obstacle. Your employer has a duty to take measures to ensure employee safety and reasonably prevent hazardous situations in the workplace. However, you also have a duty to pay attention to where you are going. In Texas, the jurisdiction of modified comparative negligence means if the court finds you more than 50% at fault for a slip and fall accident, you will not receive any compensation.

Wear the Proper Equipment

Ignoring your employer’s dress code or workplace regulations will only result in your own personal injury. Rules are in place to protect you from accidents such as slips and falls. Often, a slip and fall accident results from loss of traction between the shoe and the walking surface. Wear appropriate shoes for your job, with non-slip bottoms and the right type of heel to prevent this kind of accident. If you work in the construction industry, wear the proper harness or other equipment to protect yourself in the event of a fall. The right equipment can mean the difference between life and death in a dangerous industry.

Keep Your Facility Clean

It is up to an employer to create and enforce good housekeeping practices, but as an employee, you must always strive to keep your workplace facility clean and clear of hazardous obstacles. A cluttered workplace is a trip and fall risk, where an immobile or moveable object on the ground comes in contact with a person’s foot, ankle, or shin. Keep the workplace clear of dangerous obstacles, and follow protocol when there is a spill. Mark the area clearly with a warning sign until you can clean the spill. A sloppy workplace is a recipe for disaster, especially in high-risk industries.

Report Hazardous Circumstances

If you notice anything in your workplace that stands out to you as a slip and fall hazard, report it to your employer immediately. It is your employer’s duty to remedy dangerous environmental circumstances, such as an uneven sidewalk or an icy parking lot. If your employer knew of the dangerous situation and did nothing to prevent a slip and fall accident, the courts would find him or her at fault. If your employer reasonably could not have known about the hazard, the case will settle differently. Notify your employer about a dangerous spill, poor lighting, obstacles in aisles or walkways, or other hazardous situations so he or she can take the proper steps to remedy the problem.

Stay Vigilant

Many slip and fall accidents are entirely preventable with the proper foresight and attention to the job activity. Do not assume your workplace is safe. Instead, be proactive about your safety and take steps to ensure you will not be the next victim of a serious slip and fall accident. If you do suffer a slip and fall injury, get in touch with a personal injury attorney right away to discuss your case and investigate your workplace.

Posted by admin at 6:10 pm

College Campus Accident Claims: Are They Different?

Friday, January 15, 2016

Lawsuits for accidents that occur at colleges can be very different from those at other establishments, depending on the circumstances. There are many considerations that determine how a lawsuit stemming from a campus accident will proceed; however, you do still have legal options if and when you pursue a claim.

Holding Public Schools Liable

State run schools, including colleges, universities, and technical institutions, sometimes fall under the category of sovereign immunity as other government agencies do. In Texas, you can only sue a state school if the state decides you’re allowed to do so. This extends to all forms of lawsuits, including personal injury claims. Depending on the situation, you may win the legislature’s approval and proceed with a lawsuit against the school. The state has the right to disallow petty lawsuits but may grant them in serious personal injury cases.

Holding Private Schools Liable

Private schools may or may not be under the protection of the state when it comes to personal injury lawsuits. A private school that falls under the category of “charitable institution” may be protected under the same sovereign immunity rule as public schools.

If the injury occurred during the normal course of work and in a reasonable manner, you may not be able to present a lawsuit against the private institution. Some for profit establishments, however, may not fall under this category and can be sued as any other business entity would be. In business injury cases, you may hold each organization responsible for unreasonable situations that lead to harm under the concept of premise liability.

Other Parties You May Sue

Depending on the case, you can hold other individuals liable after an accident on campus. Going to a college or other post-graduate institution doesn’t protect other students or visitors from legal action. In addition to people not associated with the institution, you may have the opportunity to look into 3rd parties, such as contracted foodservice companies, vehicle manufacturers, and others that may not fall under the umbrella of sovereign immunity.

You may also hold more than one party accountable in a lawsuit. For instance, if you were injured by a drunk driver on campus, you may be able to hold both the school and the driver responsible for resulting injuries. The facility has a responsibility to provide reasonable protection for individuals on it.

You Need an Experienced Attorney to Bring a Lawsuit Against a College in Texas

If you decide to take legal action against a college in Texas or any other state or private institution, you’ll need the assistance of an attorney who understands Texas sovereign immunity laws. These cases are often more difficult than general personal injury claims and require an added level of expertise to determine who you can file against and the best strategy to do so.

Schools may tell individuals injured on campuses they have no liability over the injury. Depending on the case, this may or may not be true, and we can help you make that determination. Even if the school doesn’t have liability, you may still have the option to file a lawsuit against another party involved in the accident.

The medical bills and pain and suffering caused by an on-campus accident can add up quickly, and it may affect your ability to continue studying. Those who don’t have medical insurance may find the situation particularly difficult to handle. However, you’ll always have a legal outlet. Our team can help you obtain fair compensation so you can move on after a campus accident.

Contact

For more information, contact The Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C. today.

Posted by admin at 11:57 pm

Dallas Construction Crane Accident Attorneys

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Dallas Construction Crane Accident Attorneys

Crane collapses and other construction accidents involving cranes can be devastating for workers on a construction project as well as for pedestrians and bystanders. When crane accidents occur due to negligence, board certified personal injury attorney Aaron A. Herbert and the team of experienced Dallas construction crane accident attorneys at our firm will step in to hold negligent workers, contractors and property owners responsible and obtain compensation for injured workers and their families.

Improper Construction Crane Use Causes Serious Accidents On Dallas Construction Site

Nearly twenty-five percent of construction fatalities are attributable to crane accidents. Advances in technology in the last twenty years has made construction cranes capable of moving faster, extending farther and carrying greater loads, so concerns regarding construction crane safety are more serious than ever before. All workers at a construction site and others in the vicinity are at risk of serious injury or death while a crane is in operation, particularly if a load becomes unbalanced while it is being lifted, or in the event of a crane collapse.

Causes Of Construction Crane Accidents

Crane accidents occur when careful attention is not paid by the crane operator, other workers on the site, or those in charge of planning and executing the operation in question. Crane accidents are often attributed to the following circumstances:

  • Crane is not set up properly
  • Planning and coordination of the construction operation is inadequate for safety
  • The crane is operated outside the safety parameters set out by the manufacturer
  • Improper maintenance, modification or negligent repair Improper maintenance, modification or negligent repair
  • The area surrounding the crane operation is congested
  • Clearances are insufficient to complete the lift
  • Pinch points are left unguarded
  • Outriggers are improperly extended
  • The crane selected for the job is inadequate considering conditions at the jobsite
  • The crane selected is inadequate for the load requirements of the jobsite
  • Power lines, fixed objects and other overhead hazards are not properly considered
  • Crane operator, site supervisor or superintendent is inexperienced or unknowledgeable about safe crane operation

Common Construction Crane Accident Injuries

There are both physical and psychological scars after a construction crane accident. Some of the most common injuries associated with construction crane accident injuries are as follows:

Dallas Construction Attorney Board Certified In Personal Injury Trial Law

Texas board certified personal injury attorney Aaron A. Herbert and our team of highly accomplished and experienced Dallas Construction Crane Accident Attorneys have extensive experience and a proven record of results in cases involving life-changing personal injury. We can sit down with you and discuss your options for seeking maximum compensation for the harm you or your loved one has suffered due to an the negligent operation of a construction crane or other construction accidents. Call us now for a no-cost consultation. We will fight to protect your rights, and we give you the personal attention your construction accident case deserves. Time to file is limited, so contact us now.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 9:15 pm