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I was looking through my email and found an alert from KIRO. It described an accident that happened on Friday involving a DOT truck.

During the morning commute last Friday an SUV slammed into a Department of Transportation worker’s truck on Interstate 5 in Fife. The collision killed the SUV driver, Roy P. Fuentes, and injured the 56-year-old State worker, David Ball. Ball was outside of his vehicle at the time of the collision, clearing debris from the far-left lane of southbound I-5. The DOT truck was pushed forward and hit Ball. Police believe inattentive driving, speed and possibly drugs were factors that contributed to the crash.

The story raised an important issue. It’s an issue that can’t be over-emphasized.

When a worker is injured by a third-party (not an employer or a co-worker), the worker can pursue not only workers compensation benefits through the Department of Labor and Industries but also damages for the personal injury from the person who hurt him or her.

To do this the worker must file what’s known as a third-party election with the Department. Once the worker does that, the worker can retain his own attorney and seek to recover for medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, disability and the loss of enjoyment of life.

If the worker does not file a third-party election, the Department will pursue claims against the third-party. But the problem with allowing the Department to handle the claim is that it’s only interested in recovering the money it paid to the injured worker and nothing more.

For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Car and Motorcycle Accidents.

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