Many injuries take place in the workplace as a result of an employer or a co-worker.  However, injuries can also result from other persons or entities.  These injuries are said to result from a “third party.”

If you have been injured at work from a third party, you may be entitled to compensation via a “third party claim.”  This is a claim that is filed with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).  The following offers further insight into third party claims.  As always, Phillips Law Firm is here to make sure you understand your legal rights.

Third Party Injuries 101

Let’s start things off by considering some basic components involving third party claims.  Third party claims may arise after a worker is injured on the job as a result of a person or thing that is not an employer or co-worker.  As briefly mentioned above, these non-employer/co-workers are legally referred to as “third parties.”

The L&I website provides several examples of a “third party.”  Some of these examples include:

  • A driver of an automobile that hits a worker (while the worker is engaged in the normal course of his business).
  • The manufacturer of a defective product that injures a worker.
  • A property owner who fails to properly maintain a safe workplace.
  • An independent contractor whose negligence on a job site causes a worker’s injury.

Some people may think that even if a third party causes a worker’s injury, the worker could still try and sue his employer to recover compensation for any damages.  However, this is not the case.  Workers in Washington can’t sue their employers (or even co-workers) for injuries resulting from a workplace injury or occupational disease.

But, if these injuries resulted from a third party, Washington law requires that this third party be asked to pay for the injured worker’s medical treatment and other certain expenses.  The way a worker tries to impose this responsibility on a third party is by filing a third party claim with L&I.  The claim process essentially begins with a “Third Party Election Form.”

What is a Third Party Election Form?

If an injured worker’s physician certifies that the worker’s injury may have been caused by a third party, L&I will send the worker a “Third Party Election Form.”  The injured worker is then responsible for completing the form.  Once the form is completed and submitted with L&I, the claim process is basically underway.

As a side note, the Third Party Election Form asks several critical questions of a claimant.  Some of these include whether the injured worker:

  1. Wishes to take legal action himself.
  2. Wishes not to take legal action himself.
  3. Believes a third party is responsible for his injuries.

The answers to these questions may have a great impact on the manner in which a claim is received and processed.  For any injured worker that is in the process of completing the Third Party Election Form, it’s in your best interests to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney prior to submitting this form.  An attorney will help ensure that you are properly advised on your third party rights.  An attorney will also be able to provide further details on the entire claims process.

How Much Money Will an Injured Worker Receive in a Third Party Claim?

The answer to this question involves a few steps.

  • Step 1:  Attorneys in a third party claim are first paid for their reasonable fees and costs.
  • Step 2:  The injured worker then receives 25% of the net recovery settled upon.
  • Step 3:  L&I is then reimbursed for any benefits paid, less its proportionate share of fees and costs.
  • Step 4:  Any remaining balance is paid to the injured worker.

These steps simply show the process used in determining how much an injured worker will receive.  The actual amount of money an injured worker may collect entirely depends on the nature of the claim and the specific facts involved.

Contact Phillips Law Firm for Assistance

Third party workers’ compensation claims follow a relatively strict process in terms of how actual claims are handled.  The claims process will also vary from case to case simply because the facts of every claim will differ.  Yes, individuals could choose to handle these claims on their own.  However, it’s not the preferred path.

The preferred route is to contact our firm so that one of our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys can answer all of your questions.  Our attorneys will also fully advise you of your third party rights.  The attorneys at Phillips Law Firm are well versed and experienced in third party claims.  Simply contact them today and let them help!