Third-Party Claims with an L&I Injury

What is a A Workers Compensation Third Party Claim?

A Third Party Claim is an L&I Job Injury Claim and a Personal Injury Claim with the Same Set of Facts

You have a third-party claim if you are injured on the job by someone who is not your employer or a co-employee. For example:

  • A working delivery driver who is rear ended on the highway, by someone who is not his employer or co-employee, has both an L&I claim for the job injury and a third-party claim for the highway accident.
  • A subcontractor injured by the general contractor or a different subcontractor has both an L&I claim for the job injury and a third-party claim because of who caused the injury.

A third-party claim can be good because one injury = two claims, both L&I and third party. Some third-party claims can be worth a lot of money.

The downside of a third-party claim is that L&I or the insurance company has a lien on your third-party recovery. That means because they have paid money on your L&I claim, they will get some of that money back from you when you recover on the third-party claim. The exact amount they get from you is subject to the worksheet formula, and possible compromise. Compromise is difficult because L&I or the self-insured has lien rights which are stronger than state subrogation rights. Sometimes the amount L&I or the insurance company will take is shockingly large. Sometimes the third-party settlement will ruin the remaining L&I claim. Understand how this third-party formula applies to your L&I case before you consider settling any third-party claim.

An L&I Claim and a Third Party Claim Affect Each Other.

  • They are two different claims, with the same set of facts. These two claims will affect each other in significant ways.
  • A third-party settlement will affect ongoing and future L&I benefits because L&I gets reimbursed for a percentage of the money they have paid. Sound simple? It’s not. The third-party settlement might just ruin your L&I claim. Get your lawyer involved here to reduce or eliminate any deficiency. This is important!
  • L&I orders affect the Third-Party claim.
    • A bad order or unfavorable IME can result in a big problem for the third-party claim.
    • A favorable order and good medical opinions can be very helpful to the third party claim.
  • This is way more important than it may look. Be careful. Pay attention now or you might get a rude surprise later.
    • A third-party claim can create a deficiency and ruin the L&I claim.
    • An L&I claim can be minimized and oppressed by L&I or the self-insured and thereby severely limit the third party recovery. Don’t let this happen.
    • Working to fully develop the L&I claim can be very helpful to the third party claim and the bottom line.
    • Get advice about his. It is more important than you think.

Has Medicare Made Payments in Your Case?

If Medicare has made payments in your injury case – beware. They may have a legitimate interest in some of your settlement money. They want to be paid back the money they have paid for your treatment.

The law allows Medicare to be repaid from your settlement. Before you agree to any settlement for your job injury claim, understand what Medicare wants for both past and future medical care.

How to Settle A Third Party Claim and an L&I Claim

  • Worker is injured on the job by someone or something not his/her employer or co-employee.
  • The worker files an L&I claim within one year of the injury, or within two years of manifestation of the occupational disease
  • The worker and his lawyer file a third party claim. Filing the third party claim tolls the statute of limitations and commences the lawsuit. Get a good lawyer to help with this.
  • Third Party Election Form from L&I should be completed and filed. 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 gives up your right to take legal action. L&I takes over your third party claim. Not usually the good choice
  • You win both claims and work out L&I’s subrogation and Medicare’s interest.

Third-Party Claim Value

  • To figure out the value of a Third-Party claim use the interactive worksheet formula. If your numbers aren’t set yet you can make estimates. You can also request the L&I Third-Party section to do the calculation for you. You can also contact us to discuss claim value.
  • Fault is an important concept.
    • 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.
    • L&I is a no fault system, so you can get a settlement without proving fault.

Still Wondering about Third Party Claims?

It’s easy to understand why. Third Party Claims are complex! Talk to us – we will help make them easier to understand.

How to Contact Us

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Chris Sharpe

Chris Sharpe

Christopher Sharpe is the go to attorney for injured persons. His law firm is helpful, honest, and knowledgeable about workers' compensation and personal injury law in the State of Washington. Chris has been helping injured Washington State workers for over 30 years. He has built his practice on thoroughly educating, honestly helping, and successfully representing workers throughout Washington State.

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