In 2006, state transportation officials funded a six-year plan to replace over two hundred dirt earth berms that were placed on Washington’s freeway system as a means to provide safety to drivers. As it turns out, the dirt earth berms were not only proven to be ineffective, they repeatedly were shown to be more dangerous; meaning accidents that happened in and around berms often times dramatically increased the chance of serious injury or death.
Is A Lawsuit Really Necessary After A Car Accident?
Whether you need to file a lawsuit for your car accident claim usually depends on whether the insurance company makes an acceptable offer in pre-lawsuit negotiations. Many factors determine what an insurance company offers, and this discussion outlines the most common reasons your attorney may recommend filing a lawsuit.
Sending A Demand To The Insurance Companies
In most cases, before filing a lawsuit your attorney will attempt to negotiate a settlement through either the at-fault party’s insurance company, your insurance company or both. Your attorney will send a demand to the appropriate insurance company (or companies) and ask for an amount of money that covers your pain and suffering, medical bills, wage loss, and any other damages you sustained.
However, if the insurance company refuses to offer an amount that fairly compensates you, you may need to file a lawsuit.
Washington’s Industrial Insurance Act provides for our state’s workers’ compensation system. The Industrial Insurance Act (“IIA”) “is based on a compromise between workers and employers, under which workers become entitled to speedy and sure relief, while employers are immunized from common law responsibility.” Nelson v. Dep’t. of Labor & Indus., 198 Wash. App. 101, 110 (Div. 2 2017) (quoting Flanigan v. Dep’t of Labor & Indus., 123 Wash.2d 418, 422, 869 P.2d 14 (1994)). In other words, workers generally cannot sue their employers or their co-employees (workers who share the same common employer), but injured workers are supposed to obtain benefits for indemnity (lost wages and lost earning power) as well as “proper and necessary” medical treatment.
How is the Industrial Insurance Act supposed to be construed by the courts?
All doubts with respect to the interpretation of the IIA are to be resolved in favor of injured workers. Dennis v. Dep’t of Labor & Indus., 109 Wn2d 467, 470, 475 P.2d 1295 (1987). The “overarching objective” of the IIA, Title 51 RCW is to reduce to a minimum “the suffering and economic loss arising from injuries and/or death occurring in the course of employment.” Cockle v. Dep’t of Labor & Indus., 142 Wn.2d 801, 822, 16 P.3d 583 (2001)(quoting RCW 51.12.010). The point here is that the workers’ compensation system is intended to benefit workers. Too often, the defense interests and even certain industrial appeals judges fail to fully appreciate that there’s almost a “tie goes to the runner” aspect intended in workers’ compensation matters. A true tie is not a win for the worker since a worker must prove their case by a “preponderance” of evidence. The Industrial Insurance Act is remedial in nature, so like all remedial statutes, it must be interpreted liberally by the courts to affect the benefits the legislature has intended.
A Department of Labor & Industries order becomes final 60 days after the Department communicates the order to the required parties unless a written request for reconsideration, also known as a “protest,” or an appeal is filed. See RCW 51.52.050(1). A protest “automatically operates to set aside the Department’s order and hold in abeyance the final adjudication of the matter until the Department officially acts to issue its final decision by a ‘further appealable order.’” Santos Alonzo, 56,833 and 56,833A, 1981 WL 375946, at *3 (Wash. Bd. of Indus. Ins. Appeals Dec. 9, 1981); (RCW 51.52.060).(more…)
After a multi-year battle spearheaded by the attorneys at Washington Law Center, a Hanford nuclear site worker exposed to toxic chemicals over the course of his employment was finally paid the benefits he’s been owed for years. Getting three years of benefits paid was a huge win for our client.
The Department of Energy fought us every step of the way, forcing us to spend thousands of dollars and hire multiple attorneys to get the benefits to which all Washington workers are entitled.
New legislation passed this year will help other Hanford workers pursue their claims without the same difficulties. Washington Law Center is poised to help these deserving worker’s get what’s owed to them.
The Hanford is a former nuclear production facility where the U.S. government produced plutonium for use in nuclear weapons. The site was decommissioned in 1989.