Even with all of the progress in recent years made toward improving employee safety across all industries, some industries like the industrial and refining sector remain more dangerous than others. Given the many safeguards that have been enacted, many workplace accidents that do occur today are often attributed to human error. If you are the victim of such an accident, you can expect to be questioned by insurance agents and accident investigators. What you may not expect is to be the one determined to be at fault. Regardless, it is crucial to be aware of your legal rights and options.
DISPUTING THE ASSIGNMENT OF FAULT
Your fault in an accident, whether it is valid or perceived, can have a dramatic impact on your ability to receive any compensation in its immediate aftermath. If an accident inquiry or investigation finds you at fault, your first step may be to file a dispute with whoever made that determination. Workers typically approach an initial inquiry not contemplating the possibility of being found responsible. If you shared this same assumption, then your focus when being questioned may not have been on proving what your role was in the event as much as it was just sharing your recollection of it. However, if you choose to dispute the findings of an accident investigation, your thoughts and energies are directed solely at absolving yourself from responsibility. During a dispute, you may be granted access to the statements of other parties involved, as well as information detailing the reasons why you were determined to be at fault. It can often be extremely helpful to seek legal advice during this process.
YOUR OPTIONS IF YOU ARE AT FAULT
However, even with a dispute, there is no guarantee that the original decision will be overturned. Or, you may already understand that it was indeed your actions that caused the accident or incident you were involved in. What then? Are you completely without options when it comes to meeting your accident expenses? Not necessarily. Listed below are some of the paths still open to you for help in dealing with the financial consequences of an industrial accident:
Workers’ Compensation – Workers’ compensation benefits are essentially a “no-fault’ system. What that means is that you can qualify for this assistance even if you were found to be at fault in an accident. Workers compensation is designed to help cover the expenses most immediately associated with your accident, such as your medical and doctor’s bills. If your injuries require rehabilitation, workers’ compensation may cover that, too, as well as partial disability benefits while you are unable to return to work.
There is one thing you should understand about workers’ compensation coverage, however. Texas law does not require employers to carry it. That does not necessarily mean that yours does not; it does, however, leave you with less recourse if your company does not offer such a benefit. Only in cases where you work for a contractor that is employed with a project involving a government entity are you then legally entitled to such coverage.
Insurance – If you are injured in a workplace accident that you caused, you can still (in most cases) rely upon your own medical insurance coverage to help pay for any healthcare costs that are associated with it. If your accident occurred while you were driving, you may also be able to file a claim with your auto insurance policy. Yet in order to qualify for such coverage, you usually have to be in your own vehicle. If you are enrolled in a disability insurance plan, that may also provide you with income as you work your way through your rehabilitation.
Legal Action – The question of how far your responsibility extends could open the door for you to pursue legal action, even in a case where you were found to be at fault. If, for example, you were executing a task at the instruction of your employer, then you could potentially argue that liability lies with the company, as you were simply performing a job-related task. To determine whether or not you have a legal case it is imperative that you consult a qualified industrial law attorney.
A common concern that industrial accident victims often struggle with is feeling as though that have no one in their corners to help them through the difficult times that are sure to follow. These feelings of solitude are almost certain to be compounded in your case if you are found to be the one at fault. Yet do not despair; there are people out there who will not only support you, but also assist you in dealing with the aftermath and expenses of your accident. Dugas Law Firm is committed to fighting for the rights of injured workers.