Third Party Claim Together With an L&I Claim in Washington State

What is a Third Party Claim?

  • A third party claim is an L&I claim and a Personal Injury claim sharing the same facts. When you have both a personal injury claim and an L&I claim, the personal injury claim is called a third party claim.
  • An L&I Claim in Washington State is what the injured worker together with their doctor file after a job injury.

One Injury – Two Claims. A job injury caused by someone other than your employer or co-worker, is both an L&I claim and a third party claim.

For example: An employee of an electrical subcontractor falls through an unguarded hole left by the general contractor. This injured worker has two claims. He has an L&I claim because he is injured while on the job. He also has a third party claim because that same set of facts resulted in an injury caused by someone who is not his employer or a co-employee.

A Third Party Allows Double Recovery.

A third party claim can be a good thing. If you win both your L&I claim and your third party claim, you will recover twice for the same injury, subject to the lien rights of L&I or the self insured employer.

Third Party Claims are Not All Good. 

It most cases there is a lien on your third party recovery. That means because L&I or the Self Insurer has paid money on your L&I claim they will get some of that money back from you when you settle your third party claim. The exact amount they get from you is subject to the worksheet formula and possible compromise. Sometimes the amount L&I or the self insured employer takes is large. Sometimes the third party settlement will ruin the remaining L&I claim because it creates an offset and takes away L&I benefits.   Understand how the offset formula applies to your L&I claim BEFORE you settle your third party claim.

Third Party Election Form – L&I.

The third party election form is a formal notice given by you to L&I on the subject of whether or not you believe you have a third party claim. Even though L&I is asking, as a practical matter you don’t have any choice whether you have a third party claim. The facts decide that. For more information and a link to the form see Third Party Election Form

The third party election form also serves to designate who will be in charge of the third party claim, you or L&I.

  • Option A puts you in charge of your claim and its future. Option A is usually the smart choice
  • Option B you give up your right to take legal action. L&I takes over your third party claim. Not usually the good choice

Can I Sue a Third Party if I Have an L&I Claim?

Yes, that’s what we’re talking about. You can sue a third party even if you have an L&I claim. Your claim against them is a third party lawsuit. The third party is a person who is not your co-employee and not your employer.

WISHA and OSHA in Washington State Third Party Claims.

WISHA and OSHA regulations are in place to protect workers. Employers are required to furnish a work environment free from injury causing hazards. Violations of the regulations are evidence of negligence and can be very helpful in third party lawsuits. Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act (WISHA) regulations can be found at WISHA. Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) can be found at OSHA.

How Does a Third Party Claim Work?

  • Worker is injured on the job by someone or something not his/her employer or co-employee.
  • The worker files an L&I claim
  • The worker and his lawyer file a third party claim
  • You win both and work out L&I’s subrogation.

Statute of Limitations (SOL) for L&I Claims and Third Party Lawsuits

  • L&I SOL – one year to file the L&I injury claim and longer for occupational disease. See Statute of Limitations (L&I) for details.
  • Third Party SOL – three years is the deadline for you to file a third party claim.  This is an important deadline. Get the lawsuit filed on time. However, there is no SOL which runs against the State of Washington. That means they can bring a third party claim at anytime. They may be able to help if you miss your third party statute of limitations.

What if I’m Not at Fault for my Injury?

Third party claims are negligence based lawsuits, so fault is very important. Not being at fault is a good thing. Having the person who hurt you being at fault is a good thing. To win a third party claim you must prove that the third party’s negligence (fault) contributed in some way to your injuries.

Third Party Claim Examples.

If while you are on the job this happens then you may have a third party claim.

  • Vehicle accident 
  • Defective equipment or product
  • Accident offsite of employers usual place of business
  • Construction Site Injury to include 
    • Injury to an employee of a subcontractor by the general or another subcontractor, or injury to an employee of a general contractor by a subcontractor
    • Unlicensed contractor who hires a worker
    • Unsafe worksite
    • Unsafe building or stairs
    • Exposure to toxic things
  • Temporary Agency Employee

How to File a Third Party Claim.

There are two important actions, both must be done to effectively start a third party claim.

  • File a lawsuit. 
    • Filing a lawsuit tolls the statute of limitations and commences the lawsuit. You will want a lawyer to file a lawsuit. Get a good lawyer and be sure he or she understands L&I claims and the third party offset. The lawyers at Graham Lundberg and Peschel are experienced and can help.
  • Third Party election. 
    • Complete and file a third party election form with the Department of Labor and Industries. See Third Party Election Form for details and a link to the form.

What is My Third Party Claim Worth?

To figure out the value of a third party claim use L&I’s interactive online worksheet formula. Enter your figures and the worksheet will give you a claim value. Here is what you need to know to get your answer.

  • Gross Settlement
  • Benefits Paid
  • Attorney Fees
  • Costs

Do I want a Lawyer for My Third Party Claim? 

Third party corporations are usually represented by a virtual army of corporate and insurance lawyers. If you hope to do well then consult with one of the lawyers at GLP Attorneys.

Do I want a Lawyer for My L&I Claim?

  • Is your L&I claim going smoothly with minor injuries? You can DIY.
  • Does your claim have problems? Is there a third party claim involved? Do you have significant and lasting injuries? Get an L&I lawyer. Getting your L&I case done correctly will greatly improve your third party case.
  • For more L&I Information contact the author Chris Sharpe at the Sharpe Law Firm

 

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