When someone is injured while at work, it is Washington state law that they submit a claim through the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I). This will then prompt an investigation into the accident to determine whether the injured party qualifies for the state worker’s compensation program.
However, if the result of the L&I investigation is that the employee or a co-worker of the victim is not at fault, they will send a letter about third-party fault. This may seem confusing because it can look like a denial letter. L&I is stating that after their investigation, they determined that the victim’s employer is not at fault for their accident and the case does not qualify for worker’s compensation. Despite that sounding like someone who is injured and in need of medical treatment being left to figure it out on their own, it can actually be a good thing.
L&I investigations are thorough, meaning that if they think someone was injured due to negligence of a third party, someone other than their employer, it is likely that is true. And, since it is illegal to sue your employer in Washington, it opens the door for a larger recovery as most liable third parties in workplace accidents will carry a high level of insurance.
Suing a Third-Party for Personal Injury
They very first thing someone should do if they receive a letter from L&I claiming their accident may be the fault of a third party is contact an experienced personal injury attorney. A victim will typically receive two letters, both of which are full of jargon and tasks that may be difficult to accomplish on their own. One letter should be a copy of the letter sent to their employer asking for the third party's information. The other is for the injured employee asking them how they would like to proceed by having them select one of two options on an attached brochure.
The language they use in that letter doesn't make it clear that they should probably reach out to an attorney, rather it asks if they will be pursuning compensation themselves or with their attorney, or if they would like L&I to consider it. Those options make it sound like someone is either going to have to represent themselves if they don't already have an attorney, or hope that L&I will work on their behalf. A subsequent investigation will need to take place, and that will involve a lot of paperwork and back and forth to determine the responsible party, if there is a claim, and what level of insurance exists. All of that can be handled by experts so the victim can focus on their recovery.
Contact An Experienced Third-Party Injury Attorney
Davis Law Group has handled cases like these for over twenty years. The legal staff are highly skilled at investigating the accident and dealing with the insurance company and L&I. As a client-forward firm, we want people to be able to get their life back as much as possible, not get bogged down with paperwork and phone calls regarding their injury.
If you or someone you know has received a letter from L&I suggesting their workplace injury was due to the fault of a third party, you can request a free case evaulation by calling 206-727-4000 or by using the chat or contact form on this page.