How do I know if I have a third party claim?
Individuals have a third party claim if they are injured in the course of their employment by a party who is NOT that person’s employer or coworker. For example, a delivery truck driver could be hit by another vehicle in the course of their daily route. If the driver of the responsible vehicle is not the worker’s employer or coworker, that worker has both a workers compensation and a third party claim. The same might apply to a subcontractor hurt by the general contractor.
Therefore, third party claims are actually personal injury cases combined with standard L&I claims, even though they arise out of the same incident. When a worker has both, Labor and Industries Attorneys refer to it as a third party claim.
Third party claims can give injured workers a significant advantage, because they mean you have dual claims: both workers’ compensation and third party. Furthermore, many third party claims are worth a great deal of money — generally much more than the standard L&I benefits.
However, the disadvantage of third party injuries is that Washington L&I (or a company’s private insurer) places a lien on the third party settlement. In other words, since they have already paid money on your L&I claim, they will look to recover some of that money from you when you collect your third party damages. The particular amount they take is determined in L&I’s worksheet formula, but can be open to negotiation. Yet compromising with L&I is tricky, because the agency has lien rights that supersede state subrogation rights. Often, the sum they collect is shockingly large. And sometimes a third party award will wipe out the remainder of your L&I claim, because it creates an “offset.” Injured workers should be aware of how this formula pertains to their case prior to settling any third party injury claim. Injury victims should also look out for personal injury lawyers who do not understand this relationship between L&I claims and Third Party claims. Be firm in making them explain how the offset works, and how much it will ultimately cost. If they are unable to do so, or dismiss this request, consider finding another attorney. Even small mistakes by firms with inadequate experience in third party law can result in a ruined L&I claim.
Can I sue my employer?
To calculate the value of a third party claim, use the third party worksheet. In order to complete this form you must be able to provide the following:
- Gross recovery
- Benefits already paid
- All attorney fees
- Other costs
Third Party Injury Attorneys
If these numbers are still uncertain, enter the best estimate possible for a rough idea. You are also welcome to contact Emery Reddy for help; our third party injury attorneys will complete the calculation for you to determine your benefits. We also have extensive experience helping clients with a denied L&I claim or a mandatory Independent Medical Examination.