The Husky oil refinery explosion and fire in Superior, Wisconsin, caused alarm throughout the Duluth-Superior region. After the fire was contained, the company received more than 1,000 claims from people affected by the fire. While there were no fatalities, 21 people were injured in the accident.
Just days after the fire, an article in the Duluth News Tribune reported that the company is requiring anyone who suffered a bodily injury to sign liability waivers that would shield the company from further liability.
What is a liability waiver?
Liability waivers are legal documents that relieves a party from liability by having another party assume the risks associated with an activity. According to the article, Husky Energy is trying to insulate itself from additional costs down the road by having people sign waivers in exchange for some money upfront.
What are the problems with signing a waiver?
The biggest problem with liability waivers is that you are effectively settling your claim when you do not know its full value. Matthew Lein, an attorney at Lein Law Offices in Hayward cautioned, "Right now, you may not notice any problems, but you might in a few months or a year."
Are injured workers required to sign?
A company by law cannot force anyone to give up their rights. Liability waivers are only required by injured workers who are accepting a settlement from the company.
Workers should still use caution when considering a settlement. Lein agreed. "The oil company won't say it, but they're looking out for themselves. They're trying to minimize their liability."
Nobody wants to sign away their rights only to have additional costs and expenses come up down the road. It is worthwhile to get peace of mind by talking with a workers' compensation attorney about the value of a claim as well as individual rights and options after a work accident. Injured workers should make sure their needs are covered.