Who Can I Sue if I’m Injured at Work?

Around 3 million people are injured at work each year in the U.S. Some of the injuries are minor while some are more serious and result in permanent disability or even death. When a worker gets injured, they are often left with many questions about their future.

One of the questions is who will pay for my injuries? In Washington state, when a worker gets injured, a claim for injuries, lost time from work, disability and other losses can be made to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

Third-Party Claims

Under state law, an injured worker doesn’t sue their employer for negligence if they get hurt at work. Their injuries will be paid under their state’s worker’s compensation laws and handled by the Department of Labor and Industries. However, in some cases, the worker might be able to sue someone else for their injuries.

This is called a third-party claim and it is available when someone other then their employer is at least partially at fault for the injury. This might be getting sprayed by an exterminator, or maybe a safety feature on a machine malfunction.

In these cases, the worker will still get paid by L&I, but will also have a third-party claim against whoever is responsible for their injury other than their employer.


In these cases, the worker must prove that the third-party was negligent. This could be someone who was on site from another company or from equipment made by another company. There are many scenarios that could lead to a third-party claim.

Once the third-party is identified, then a claim can be made against them, and if they deny the claim, then you can sue them in civil court like any other personal injury claim. The victim would have to prove that the third-party failed to use the caution and care due to the worker in the manner that a reasonable person would under the same or similar circumstances.

Once proven, then the injured worker will receive payment from the third-party company. However, in some cases, any funds received from Washington’s L&I might have to be paid back. An experienced attorney can negotiate with the dept pay as little back as possible.

Types of Third-Party Injuries

  • These are injuries that were caused by someone other than the worker’s employer.
  • Delivery Company
  • Equipment Design or Manufacture Defects
  • Chemicals Used by Third-Party
  • Electrocution/Burns from Subcontractors
  • Cleaning/Maintenance Company Mistakes
  • Assault by Fellow Employee or Any Other Third Party

These are just a few. If you’ve been injured by someone other than your boss while at work, then you need to talk to an attorney to find out your rights under the law.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who pays for my medical bills and wages if I’m hurt on the job?

In Washington state, if you are hurt at work you are entitled to workers compensation benefits which include medical bills and lost time from work. However, if you are injured by someone other than your employer, then you can sue that third party directly for damages. A third party is someone who is not employed or an agent of your employer like a food vendor truck or the make of defective safety equipment.

Do I have to pay back my workers compensation if I get WC benefits and then get compensation from a third party?

The law allows the Washington Department of Labor and Industries to be paid back the amount of money they have paid out to an injured employee if a third party has paid compensation. However, a knowledgeable and experienced attorney can seek an agreement from  L&I to either waive or reduce the amount of money to be paid back.

Do I need an attorney if I get hurt on the job by a third party?

If you get hurt on the job by someone other than your employer, you may be entitled to compensation for  personal injury and workers compensation benefits. This can get complicated in a hurry, so at least speaking with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney is a wise thing to do.

Contact a Spokane Personal Injury Lawyer

Established in Spokane in 1948, Crary, Clark, Domanico, & Chuang, P.S. is committed to providing our clients with the absolute highest quality legal representation. If one of our Spokane Personal Injury Lawyers represents you for your accident case, you have our assurance that we will use our absolute best efforts to win your case.

Contact us after any work accident resulting in a serious injury for a free, confidential consultation and case evaluation. We will only offer you advice which is in your best interest.


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