Workers’ Compensation

In Southwest Washington, attorney Kevin Staples helps people who have been injured on the job seek compensation for their work-related injuries either through filing workers’ compensation claims or bringing personal injury lawsuits against negligent third parties.

Instead of suing their employer for work-related injuries, workers injured on the job are required to file workers’ compensation claims. Compensation is awarded pursuant to an established schedule, and according to the severity of the injury and whether it is temporary or permanent.  While the amount is usually less than one would receive in a personal injury lawsuit, workers’ compensation is simpler to obtain in that the injured party does not have to prove negligence or fault on the part of the employer.

Although a workers’ compensation claims process is different from trial or a negotiated settlement with a private insurance company, legal representation is still important.  Filing a claim, obtaining an impairment rating and disability certification, and submitting to an independent medical exam can all be difficult processes to navigate without the aid of experienced legal counsel.  Furthermore, adverse decisions made by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) can be protested or appealed to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals (BIIA).  Whether writing a protest letter or appearing before the BIIA, an attorney can protect your rights and present your case in a persuasive manner.

Vancouver personal injury attorney Kevin Staples commonly assists clients in workers’ compensation claims involving:

  • Time Loss – If you refrain from returning to work on the advice of your physician, you are entitled to time loss compensation.
  • Pensions – Monthly pension benefits under the state workers’ compensation program are available for those who are seriously injured and no longer able to work.
  • Permanent Disability Awards – A person with a partial yet permanent disability often must be examined by a qualified doctor before an award can be made.  An award raises issues regarding medical benefits and time-loss compensation that should be considered.

Third Party Claims

A personal injury lawyer in Vancouver knows that Workers’ Compensation is not always the exclusive remedy when one is injured on the job.  While lawsuits against the employer or fellow workers are prohibited, there may have been a third party involved who bears some measure of responsibility for the injury.  For example, an employee working off-site could be injured on unsafe premises owned by another party, or involved in an automobile accident due to a negligent driver.  Even at the employer’s workplace, a defective piece of equipment may have caused the injury, leading to a products liability claim against the equipment designer, manufacturer, or distributer.  Under Washington’s collateral source rule, the fact that a plaintiff is receiving worker’s compensation benefits cannot be used against him or her in a personal injury lawsuit.  However, portions of the recovery are shared with L&I to reimburse them for benefits paid, less their share of costs of the lawsuit.

Kevin Staples is one of the very few lawyers in Southwest Washington who regularly handles both worker’s compensation and third-party claims for people who are injured on the job.  If you have been injured on the job and need assistance filing for workers’ compensation, or have any questions regarding your claim or a potential lawsuit, contact Kevin Staples for a free consultation.