Injured on the Job Representation in Washington
If you are injured on the job in the state of Washington, you will likely think of filing a workers’ compensation claim. While in many cases this is the correct decision, there are certain situations in which a third-party could be to blame for your accident, or when an employer was aware of a safety hazard, yet willfully neglected to correct the hazard. Under workers’ compensation, when an employee suffers an injury at work, he or she will have all medical expenses related to the work injury paid for or reimbursed, will also receive a portion of regular wages, and may be eligible for employment rehabilitation as well. Kadish Twersky has helped many Washington State employees injured on the job to receive the compensation they are entitled to receive.
Specific Instances Where a Lawsuit May be Allowed
If a worker is injured during the use of dangerous or defective equipment or is injured through lack of instructions, poor instructions, or lack of training on a specific piece of equipment, he may be able to instigate a product liability lawsuit. If the defect lies with a third party such as the product manufacturer or equipment installer, the injured employee could be entitled to file a lawsuit against this third party while still collecting his or her workers’ compensation benefits from the employer.
Injuries Caused by a Third-Party Independent Contractor
If another company is working on the employer’s premises and deliberately or inadvertently causes injury to an employee, that employee may be able to instigate a separate lawsuit against this third party while still drawing workers’ compensation benefits. Such a situation could occur if an employer hired an independent contractor to come on the premises and make repairs. Suppose you are walking to the water cooler when one of the contract workers drops a brick on your head. The injuries you sustain from such an act could entitle you to sue a third party while also collecting workers’ compensation.
Injuries Which Occur Off-Premises and Intentional Torts
Assuming your job requires you to perform your employee duties away from the regular premises of your employer and you suffer an injury due to the negligence of another party at the remote job site, you may be able to bring legal action against that third party as well as your own employer. An intentional tort occurs when an employer deliberately intended to harm a worker. In such a case, the exclusive remedy provisions of workers’ compensation no longer apply, and the injured worker has the right to instigate a lawsuit against his or her employer. Remember, there must be an actual intent to harm the employee, and this level of malice must be proven. Maintaining a sloppy work environment would rarely fall under this category because the rules are very specific, and it is rare that an employer would actually want to cause harm to an employee.
Washington State Third-Party Injuries at Work
Your third-party claim for an injury sustained at work is filed with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. It is important to note that if a third party is the cause of your injury, you may not sue your employer to recover compensation. Workers in the state of Washington may not sue their employers for injuries resulting from a workplace injury or occupational disease, however, if such injuries or illnesses were the result of a third party’s negligence, that third party could be asked to pay for the injured worker’s medical treatments, as well as certain other expenses.
This claim process begins with a “Third Party Election Form,” which L & I will send to the injured worker after a physician certifies the worker’s injury could have been the result of a third party’s negligence. On this Third-Party Election Form, several critical questions will be asked, including whether you want to take legal action on your own, whether you do not wish to take legal action, and whether you believe a third party is responsible for your injuries. How you answer these questions will have a significant impact on how your claim is received and processed.
Because of this, it is extremely important that you speak to a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney before you submit the Third-Party Election Form. When you file a third-party claim through L & I, your attorney will be paid for his or her reasonable fees and costs, you will receive 25% of the net recovery settled upon, L & I will be reimbursed for benefits paid, fees and costs, and you will receive any remaining balance.
What if My Employer Doesn’t Carry Workers Comp and I am Injured on the Job?
In the state of Washington, workers’ compensation coverage is mandatory, with the following exceptions:
- An employer who has less than two full-time employees who work as domestic servants in a private home;
- Any employer who hires individuals to go gardening, maintenance or repairs at his or her private home;
- Services performed by insurance producers;
- Members of a limited liability company;
- For-hire vehicle operators;
- Any individual who performs services in return for aid or sustenance received from a charitable organization or religious organization;
- Sole proprietors or partners;
- Musicians or entertainers under a contract;
- Services performed by delivery persons, newspaper vendors, newspaper carriers or freelance news writers;
- Officers of a corporation who are voluntarily elected or appointed;
- Any minor under the age of eighteen who is employed by his or her parents on a farm or for agricultural purposes, or
- Jockeys, as they participate in or prepare horses for races.
What to Do Following an On-The-Job Injury
Many employees do not want to “rock the boat” at their place of employment. Because of this, when that employee suffers an injury, he or she may attempt to ignore the injury, or just “get through,” failing to report the injury for days, or even weeks. What the employee may not understand is that the insurance company may later deny or delay a valid claim simply because it was not reported in a timely manner.
If you are involved in an accident at work, you should immediately report the accident to your direct supervisor. In larger companies, you might need to report your accident to the Human Resources Department. Either way, it is very important that you follow the protocol as set forth in your employee handbook.
Obtaining Help from an Experienced Kadish Twersky Job Injury Attorney
It can be extremely difficult to navigate the legal maze you may face following a work accident. The process can be exponentially less difficult when you have a highly experienced Kadish Twersky attorney by your side. It is important to recognize that insurance companies have an entire arsenal of strategies they will employ to ensure they pay the least amount possible to an injured worker.
When you attempt—on your own—to fight a company that has significantly more resources and experience, it is almost certain that you will not secure the settlement you are entitled to. The Kadish Twersky Law Firm has recently merged with Palace Law. This merger means you—and all our clients—benefit from the larger team of experienced attorneys. Contact Kadish Twersky today to discuss your on-the-job injury.