While injured employees do not currently have the right to sue employers or co-workers under workers’ compensation law, third-parties may still be held accountable for negligence. If your work injury was the result of another party’s actions, or if you were hurt at an off-site job location, you may have the right to seek additional benefits through a third-party claim.
What Is A Third-Party Claim?
Third-party injuries in the workplace are the result of accidents caused by someone other than your employer or co-worker. If you have been injured on the job at the fault of someone else’s actions or negligence, you may be entitled to additional compensation through a third-party L&I claim, which combines your L&I claim with a personal injury claim using the same facts.
Who Is Liable In A Third-Party Claim?
Third-party accident and injury claims may include:
- Construction injuries and accidents
- Vehicle accidents while performing a job
- Injuries on the job caused by a worker in another company’s employment
- Injuries at work caused by defective equipment or products
- Failure to provide security
- Injuries while working on a site belonging to someone other than your employer
- Heavy machinery accidents
- Industrial explosions
- Scaffolding accidents
- Sexual harassment or assault
- Toxic exposure
How Do I File A Third-Party Insurance Claim?
When filing a third-party claim, every second counts. Call the legal team at Emery | Reddy, PLLC promptly to avoid missing important deadlines for your case.
Step 1: Consult With A Lawyer Before Talking To Insurance Companies
Insurance companies are experts at minimizing their liability costs, sometimes at the expense of the victim. Let an attorney advise you against making a statement that the insurance company can later use against you.
Step 2: L&I Third-Party Election Form
L&I will send you a third-party “Third-Party Election Form” to complete. The form has three options. Be sure to talk to your attorney to determine the best course of action for you. If you do not indicate your preferred course of action on the L&I form, your case could be automatically assigned to L&I, which would mean the loss of your right to pursue third-party compensation with your own attorney. Failure to return the L&I third-party form could also cost you your rights.
Option A: You DO Wish To Take Legal Action Yourself
Selecting Option A on the third-party election form indicates your desire to work with an attorney to seek damages for your injury. If you have an attorney, they will help you complete the form, notify L&I when the lawsuit has been filed, and handle case details and updates on your behalf.
If you receive a financial settlement through action with your attorney:
- You and your attorney must report the amount of any settlement to the Department of Labor and Industries. After receiving a third-party settlement, you are responsible for repaying any L&I claim benefits you may have received. However, your attorney can assist you in negotiating the refund amount for which you are responsible.
- Once reaching a third-party settlement, funds are distributed according to Washington State mandate: the law divides the funds between you, your attorney, and reimbursement for your self-insured employer or L&I.
- Depending on the amount awarded in your settlement, payment of workers’ compensation benefits may cease permanently or temporarily. An Emery | Reddy attorney will help you determine the payments to which you are entitled.
Option B: You DO NOT Wish To Take Legal Action Yourself
Option B indicates that you do not wish to take legal action yourself, but instead want L&I to take legal action against the third-party on your behalf. However, they may decline to do so. We highly recommend consulting an attorney (who is bound by law to act in your best interests), rather than entrusting L&I with your case.
If you receive a financial settlement through L&I action, Washington state law allocates funds differently for settlements reached through L&I. If you receive any portion of the recovered funds, there is a significant chance that you will receive less compensation than you would with your own attorney.
Option C: You Do Not Believe A Third Party Is Responsible
Choosing Option C means you do not feel that your work injury was caused by a third-party. We advise that all injured workers consult third-party injury attorneys before making any judgments regarding the nature of their accident. Third-party liability is difficult to determine without comprehensive legal training. An experienced and dedicated legal representative from Emery | Reddy will fight aggressively for your best interests in order to earn clients the maximum possible settlement.
Important Third-Party Claims Information
You still receive L&I benefits during a third-party lawsuit. When seeking third-party damages, L&I cannot stop payment of your medical benefits until a settlement is reached awarding you third-party compensation.
If you have been injured by a third party, take immediate action—call Emery | Reddy today for a free case review. A delayed claim could result in the loss of your right to recover losses from a third party, so prompt legal action is required for additional compensation. Please remember to have your L&I claim number readily available.