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While many jobs have become less dangerous, numerous worksites—such as construction sites, airports, and factories—continue to pose significant hazards. Falls, heat burns, chemical burns, electrical shocks, power tool mishaps, explosions, structural collapses, and toxic exposures are ongoing risks. When such incidents occur, they routinely cause severe, life-altering injuries.
Washington has implemented a workers’ compensation program, which is intended to provide injured workers with guaranteed wages and healthcare benefits. Because benefits are guaranteed, workers are entitled to the benefits—either through the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) or a self-funded employer—regardless of whether the employer, a coworker, or the worker is at fault. However, in exchange for those guaranteed benefits, an injured worker is generally barred from filing a lawsuit against an employer or coworker. Therefore, an injured worker often will not be able obtain the full compensation they would otherwise be entitled to recover in court. Nevertheless, an injured worker is entitled to file a lawsuit against any other entities that caused the worker’s injuries.