Accidents at Work In Washington you can't sue your employer or co-workers if you get hurt on the job. Your only option is to file a worker's compensation claim. But it's a whole different story if you get hurt by someone else. Who is "someone else"? Claims can be brought against the property owner, product manufacturers, employees of other contractors working at a job-site, the driver who causes a car accident, etc. If you get hurt by someone other than your employer or co-worker, you need to file what's called a third-party claim form. That lets the Department of Labor and Industries know you're going after the person who hurt you.
Some people wonder why they should make a third-party claim if they already have a workers' compensation claim open. Here's why: Workers' compensation only provides for (some) medical treatment and a portion of lost wages. It doesn't provide any benefits for general damages (pain, loss of enjoyment of life, etc.). And it doesn't provide benefits for spouses (loss of consortium).
Almost every injury at work should be reviewed by an attorney for a potential third-party claim.
We have recovered for workers who have been hit by drunk drivers, fallen down stairs and injured at construction sites.
Medical Records-- The Cards You're Dealt Medical records frequently contain errors. They misdescribe accidents and get patient demographic information wrong.
There's a statute in Washington (RCW 70.02.100) that says:
For purposes of accuracy or completeness, a patient may request in writing that a health care provider correct or amend its record of the patient's health care information....
But the reality is that 9 times out of 10 your records are not going to be revised and you're basically stuck with what's in them.
At some point during the case--either at deposition or trial--you're going to be asked whether you did your best to accurately describe your injuries and symptoms to your providers. You're going to answer that you did. Opposing counsel will then read from your medical records and say isn't it true that on this date your pain was 2/10?
At that point you can either acknowledge that you reported to your provider that your pain was 2/10 or try to impugn your provider either as a listener or record-keeper. Challenging the ability of your own doctors is basically a death sentence in a personal injury case.
A much better strategy is to acknowledge the accuracy of the record and wait until it's our turn so we can ask a "better" question. For example: Did your pain stay at a 2/10?
You can explain that you have good days and bad days. The day you saw the doctor was a good day. It was a Monday and you didn't have to work over the weekend. But after a week of work you can barely get out of bed on Saturday.
The takeaway is that your medical records are basically the cards we're dealt. They're the reality of the case. Contradicting your providers is going to hurt your case. It makes sense to navigate around records with which you don't agree rather than testifying that your provider got it wrong.
Client Review "Mike represented us after my husband had an accident. He was driving for work. He got hit by a garbage truck and suffered a brain injury. Initially we hired an attorney in Eastern Washington. A friend recommended Mike. We hired him and he made a difference right away. Mike recovered way more than we expected from the company that owned the garbage truck and was able to substantially reduce what we had to pay back to DLI.
- Accident Client