When you sustain an on-the-job injury in Washington state, you can typically recover compensation under the state’s no-fault workers’ compensation system. However, what happens if a third party causes your accident?
Though you may be able to pursue a workers’ comp claim for third-party-caused injuries, you may wish, instead, to file a third-party claim. A third-party claim may yield more compensation than what you could recover under workers’ comp. The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries explains when you may file a third-party claim and how you can do so.
When to file a third-party claim for a work-related injury
In most cases involving work-related injuries, you must pursue compensation via workers’ comp. However, if someone other than a coworker or employer causes you harm while you are on the job, the law considers that person a “third-party.” It also entitles you to pursue compensation against that party via a third-party claim or lawsuit. Examples of situations in which you may pursue a third-party claim are as follows:
- You sustained an injury while properly using a defective device
- A subcontractor employs you and you sustained an injury while working under a general contractor
- You sustained an injury on a private property that the owner failed to properly maintain
In these instances, the law may allow you to file a third-party claim.
How to pursue a third-party action
If you decide to pursue a third-party claim for a work-related injury, you must notify the workers’ compensation board. You must also send a copy to the board and provide updates on the progress of your case. When you are ready to settle, the board recommends that you contact it before agreeing to anything. You must also receive written approval if the anticipated settlement is less than the amount you stand to receive via workers’ compensation.