Case name: Williams v. Leone & Keeble, Inc., No. 83743-1 (Wash. 06/09/11).
Ruling: The Washington Supreme Court held that a worker injured in Idaho could bring a third-party suit against a general contractor based in Washington.
What it means: In Washington, a worker injured in another state can file a third-party claim in Washington if the suit does not require re-litigating issues already decided in a final determination.
Summary: A worker, who was a Washington resident, worked for an Idaho company that provided labor services. The worker was sent to work in Idaho for an Idaho construction company that was a subcontractor for a school remodeling project. The general contractor was based in Washington. While installing a strut on the roof, the worker lost his balance and fell 35 feet, sustaining severe injuries to his legs and back. The worker received workers' compensation benefits in Idaho from the State Insurance Fund. He sued the general contractor in Washington. The Washington Supreme Court held that it had jurisdiction over the third-party claim.
The contractor asserted that an application for and receipt of benefits by a worker from the Idaho Industrial Insurance Commission barred a third-party claim against a general contractor in Washington. The court said that the benefits the worker received in Idaho did not bar his claim because there was not a final determination regarding the claim. The State Insurance Fund was an insurance carrier and its assessment regarding the worker's eligibility for benefits was not the equivalent of a decision by the commission.
The court also said that Idaho courts held that the re-litigation of the issue of whether the injury occurred in the course of employment precludes a third-party suit. Here, the worker conceded that he was injured during the course of his employment. The court pointed out that he was not bringing suit against his employer.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
August 1, 2011
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