When A Work Accident Becomes A Personal Injury Claim
When you are injured working at a job, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provides certain medical, wage replacement, and vocational training benefits. It doesn’t matter if your employer was at fault for your accident. Your recovery from your employer is limited to the insurance benefits.
However, there are times when employees are injured while working and parties other than the employer have some responsibility for an employee’s injuries. In cases where an employee’s injuries are caused by a third party, an employee can bring a personal injury claim against the third party in addition to collecting workers’ compensation benefits from an employer.
The Kirkland personal injury attorney at Law Offices of Joseph Rome helps injured workers get fully compensated for their injuries from the third parties responsible for causing their work-related accidents.
Why Make a Personal Injury Claim for a Work Accident?
If a third party caused your work-related injury you may want to make a claim for personal injury so you can collect compensation that is not available from workers’ comp insurance and to retain control of your claim.
Workers’ compensation pays only economic damages such as lost wages and medical expenses. Damages available in a personal injury lawsuit may include economic damages as well as the following non-economic damages.
- pain & suffering
- emotional distress
- decrease in quality of life
- punitive damages
When you collect workers’ comp insurance and a third party is responsible for your injuries, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) may choose to file a lawsuit against the third party if you don’t and attempt to recover payments made to you.
You may still receive some benefit from the lawsuit if L&I prevails, but you lose the right to control the claim. If you choose to bring your own claim, L&I is entitled to be reimbursed from your award for the workers’ comp payments made to you.
What Third Parties Can be Responsible for an Employee’s Injuries?
During the course of their employment, employees may encounter persons, property and exposures that are not affiliated with their employer but that still cause them to experience work-related injuries.
- other drivers
- other property or business owners
- manufacturers of equipment or substances
Work Accidents that Frequently Result in Personal Injury Claims
Personal injury claims against third parties for work-related injuries typically arise from the following circumstances:
- being in a motor vehicle accident
- being injured by a dangerous condition on another’s property
- using defective equipment
- being exposed to toxic substances
How to Make a Work-Related Personal Injury Claim
When you submit the report of your work accident to L&I you will indicate whether or not you believe your claim was caused by a third party other than your employer or co-worker. That will prompt L&I to have you complete a Third Party Election Form.
On the form you will indicate whether you intend to pursue a lawsuit on your own with your own attorney or whether you want to assign the right to bring a lawsuit to L&I. If you don’t pursue your action in a timely manner, L&I can petition a court to have your case assigned to them. L&I operates the way most personal injury attorneys do and won’t collect any legal fees unless there is a recovery.
If you decide to hire your own attorney, L&I must be informed of any settlement offers you receive before you take any action. Washington law provides a formula by which recovered amounts are to be distributed between you, your attorney, and L&I.
At Law Offices of Joseph Rome, we don’t see any advantage to assigning your work-related third-party personal injury claim to L&I. You surrender the ability to have your interests be the primary focus yet you are still responsible for paying legal fees from any recovery.
Our Kirkland work-related personal injury claims lawyer has helped workers injured by third parties collect the maximum compensation for their injuries – not just amounts necessary to reimburse L&I. We work as hard on behalf of injured workers as we do for any other personal injury client. We prioritize your interests and get you results.