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What happens when a state lets employers opt out of paying workers comp

Every state in the U.S. requires companies to provide workers’ compensation to employees injured on the job — every state except Texas, that is.

John Hernandez works at Swift Transportation — one of the largest trucking businesses in the U.S. When Hernandez was driving one of the company’s 18-wheelers in Texas and lost control, ending up with three herniated discs in his spine, he assumed his workers’ compensation would cover the cost of his surgery. But instead, he has been paying almost all of his medical expenses out of pocket.

Texas allows companies to opt out of workers’ comp and replace it with their own rules. And, with all the new-hire paperwork that comes with a new job, many employees don’t even know they’ve signed away their rights to workers’ compensation until after they’ve been injured. VICE News’ Roberto Ferdman travels to Texas to learn more.

This segment originally aired April 17, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO. 

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