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Texas Department of Insurance
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First responder FAQ

The Division of Workers Compensation (DWC) makes sure everyone follows the workers’ compensation rules and laws in Texas. DWC helps resolve disputes and complaints and works with employers to provide a safe workplace. Your employer’s insurance carrier pays your income and medical benefits.  

Who is a first responder?

First responders may be peace officers, paramedics, firefighters, detention officers, county jailers, or emergency medical service employees who work for a political subdivision in Texas, like a city, county, or school district. Volunteer first responders should ask their manager if they have workers’ compensation. 

For more details, see Texas Labor Code §§504.055, 504.012(a), and Government Code Chapter 607. 

When and how do I report my work-related injury or illness?

You must tell your employer

You must report your injury or illness to your employer within 30 days from the date of injury or the date you knew it was work-related, or you may lose your right to benefits.  

Report to DWC

If you miss time from work because of your injury or illness your employer’s insurance carrier will report the injury to DWC. 

When DWC gets a report of a work-related injury or illness, a Notice of Injury packet will be mailed to you with a DWC Form-041,Employee's Claim for Compensation for a Work-Related Injury or Occupational Disease. You must return the form to DWC within one year from the date of injury or illness or you may lose your right to benefits. 

You do not have to wait for the insurance carrier to report your injury or illness. You can report it to DWC using a DWC Form-041. 

If you need help, call DWC at 800-252-7031, option 1. 

What will workers’ compensation cover?

  • Medical benefits pay for reasonable and necessary medical care to treat your work-related injury or illness. 
  • Income benefits replace some of the money you lost because of your work-related injury or illness. 
  • Lifetime Income Benefits (LIBs) are a type of income benefit for certain severe injuries. There are eligibility requirements for all injured employees to get these benefits, and as a first responder, you may also receive LIBs if you had a serious bodily injury (Texas Labor Code 408.1615). If you are getting LIBs payments under Texas Labor Code 408.1615, you must certify each year that you are not employed. This law also allows for a periodic review of first responders that are receiving LIBs benefits. This review requires designated doctors to examine first responders to make sure they still meet eligibility requirements. For questions about first responder LIBs requirements call DWC Customer Service at 800-252-7031, option 1.  
  • Burial benefits pay for some of the funeral expenses when an employee dies because of a work-related injury or illness. 
  • Death benefits help families replace some of the money lost when an employee dies because of a work-related injury or illness. A spouse that married a first responder on or after September 1, 2017, can get death benefits for life even if they remarry. 

For more information, visit our income and medical benefits page.

Who should I call if I have questions about my claim or benefits?

Call your employer’s insurance carrier and ask to speak to your adjuster. Your adjuster is the person assigned by the insurance carrier to help you with your claim. 

If you still need help, call DWC at 800-252-7031, option 1. Let DWC know that you are a first responder, and they will give you the name of a person to talk to. This person will help you with your claim each time you call. 

What conditions are presumed to be work-related?

Under Texas law, some diseases are presumed to be work-related: smallpox, tuberculosis, other respiratory illnesses, certain cancers, heart attack, and stroke. 

For more information, see the Texas Government Code, Chapter 607

The statutory presumption under Texas Government Code Section 607.0545 for COVID-19 claims is no longer in effect for dates of injury on or after June 15, 2023. To be eligible under the presumption, an employee must work in a declared disaster area. Both federal and state disaster declarations related to COVID-19 ended, and the state declaration expired June 15, 2023.   

Who should I call if the insurance company denied my claim?

The Office of Injured Employee Counsel (OIEC) has a special employee who helps first responders. This person is trained in first responders’ rights in the workers' compensation system. You can email OIEC at or call 512-804-4173. 

For more information about how to resolve a dispute on your claim, go to DWC’s dispute resolution for injured employees page or watch the video Resolving Disputes

Do I have rights under workers’ compensation?

To learn more about your rights and responsibilities, read Notice of Injured Employee Rights and Responsibilities in the Texas Workers’ Compensation System

If you need help, visit DWC’s injured employee page or call 800-252-7031, option 1. 

Last updated: 2/22/2024