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I read a story in the Seattle Times this morning.  It reported that a man was burned and other injured when equipment made contact with a high-voltage power line.  

The two men were painting a commercial building from a lift bucket in the 17100 block of West Valley Highway when some equipment hanging from the lift bucket came into contact with the 115,000-volt power line, causing a “bit of an explosion and fire,” Grisham said.

Workers compensation provides benefits to injured workers no matter who caused them.  But workers compensation benefits are not the only remedy available.  If the accident or injury was caused by a third-party (that is, someone other than an employer or co-worker) the injured worker has a claim just like he or she would if the accident happened outside work hours.  

However, to pursue this claim the worker has to sign a “third-party election” (provided by the Department of Labor and Industries).  If the Election isn’t signed, the injured worker’s claim devolves to the Department.  And the Department is usually interested only in recovering the medical and lost wage benefits paid to the worker (as opposed to also recovering the general damages (pain and suffering, etc.) that rightfully belong to the injured worker.  

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