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51.24.050  <<  51.24.060 >>   51.24.070

RCW 51.24.060

Distribution of amount recovered — Lien.

(1) If the injured worker or beneficiary elects to seek damages from the third person, any recovery made shall be distributed as follows:

     (a) The costs and reasonable attorneys' fees shall be paid proportionately by the injured worker or beneficiary and the department and/or self-insurer: PROVIDED, That the department and/or self-insurer may require court approval of costs and attorneys' fees or may petition a court for determination of the reasonableness of costs and attorneys' fees;

     (b) The injured worker or beneficiary shall be paid twenty-five percent of the balance of the award: PROVIDED, That in the event of a compromise and settlement by the parties, the injured worker or beneficiary may agree to a sum less than twenty-five percent;

     (c) The department and/or self-insurer shall be paid the balance of the recovery made, but only to the extent necessary to reimburse the department and/or self-insurer for benefits paid;

     (i) The department and/or self-insurer shall bear its proportionate share of the costs and reasonable attorneys' fees incurred by the worker or beneficiary to the extent of the benefits paid under this title: PROVIDED, That the department's and/or self-insurer's proportionate share shall not exceed one hundred percent of the costs and reasonable attorneys' fees;

     (ii) The department's and/or self-insurer's proportionate share of the costs and reasonable attorneys' fees shall be determined by dividing the gross recovery amount into the benefits paid amount and multiplying this percentage times the costs and reasonable attorneys' fees incurred by the worker or beneficiary;

     (iii) The department's and/or self-insurer's reimbursement share shall be determined by subtracting their proportionate share of the costs and reasonable attorneys' fees from the benefits paid amount;

     (d) Any remaining balance shall be paid to the injured worker or beneficiary; and

     (e) Thereafter no payment shall be made to or on behalf of a worker or beneficiary by the department and/or self-insurer for such injury until the amount of any further compensation and benefits shall equal any such remaining balance minus the department's and/or self-insurer's proportionate share of the costs and reasonable attorneys' fees in regards to the remaining balance. This proportionate share shall be determined by dividing the gross recovery amount into the remaining balance amount and multiplying this percentage times the costs and reasonable attorneys' fees incurred by the worker or beneficiary. Thereafter, such benefits shall be paid by the department and/or self-insurer to or on behalf of the worker or beneficiary as though no recovery had been made from a third person.

     (2) The recovery made shall be subject to a lien by the department and/or self-insurer for its share under this section.

     (3) The department or self-insurer has sole discretion to compromise the amount of its lien. In deciding whether or to what extent to compromise its lien, the department or self-insurer shall consider at least the following:

     (a) The likelihood of collection of the award or settlement as may be affected by insurance coverage, solvency, or other factors relating to the third person;

     (b) Factual and legal issues of liability as between the injured worker or beneficiary and the third person. Such issues include but are not limited to possible contributory negligence and novel theories of liability; and

     (c) Problems of proof faced in obtaining the award or settlement.

     (4) In an action under this section, the self-insurer may act on behalf and for the benefit of the department to the extent of any compensation and benefits paid or payable from state funds.

     (5) It shall be the duty of the person to whom any recovery is paid before distribution under this section to advise the department or self-insurer of the fact and amount of such recovery, the costs and reasonable attorneys' fees associated with the recovery, and to distribute the recovery in compliance with this section.

     (6) The distribution of any recovery made by award or settlement of the third party action shall be confirmed by department order, served by a method for which receipt can be confirmed or tracked, and shall be subject to chapter 51.52 RCW. In the event the order of distribution becomes final under chapter 51.52 RCW, the director or the director's designee may file with the clerk of any county within the state a warrant in the amount of the sum representing the unpaid lien plus interest accruing from the date the order became final. The clerk of the county in which the warrant is filed shall immediately designate a superior court cause number for such warrant and the clerk shall cause to be entered in the judgment docket under the superior court cause number assigned to the warrant, the name of such worker or beneficiary mentioned in the warrant, the amount of the unpaid lien plus interest accrued and the date when the warrant was filed. The amount of such warrant as docketed shall become a lien upon the title to and interest in all real and personal property of the injured worker or beneficiary against whom the warrant is issued, the same as a judgment in a civil case docketed in the office of such clerk. The sheriff shall then proceed in the same manner and with like effect as prescribed by law with respect to execution or other process issued against rights or property upon judgment in the superior court. Such warrant so docketed shall be sufficient to support the issuance of writs of garnishment in favor of the department in the manner provided by law in the case of judgment, wholly or partially unsatisfied. The clerk of the court shall be entitled to a filing fee under RCW 36.18.012(10), which shall be added to the amount of the warrant. A copy of such warrant shall be mailed to the injured worker or beneficiary within three days of filing with the clerk.

     (7) The director, or the director's designee, may issue to any person, firm, corporation, municipal corporation, political subdivision of the state, public corporation, or agency of the state, a notice and order to withhold and deliver property of any kind if he or she has reason to believe that there is in the possession of such person, firm, corporation, municipal corporation, political subdivision of the state, public corporation, or agency of the state, property which is due, owing, or belonging to any worker or beneficiary upon whom a warrant has been served by the department for payments due to the state fund. The notice and order to withhold and deliver shall be served by the sheriff of the county or by the sheriff's deputy; by a method for which receipt can be confirmed or tracked; or by any authorized representatives of the director. Any person, firm, corporation, municipal corporation, political subdivision of the state, public corporation, or agency of the state upon whom service has been made shall answer the notice within twenty days exclusive of the day of service, under oath and in writing, and shall make true answers to the matters inquired of in the notice and order to withhold and deliver. In the event there is in the possession of the party named and served with such notice and order, any property which may be subject to the claim of the department, such property shall be delivered forthwith to the director or the director's authorized representative upon demand. If the party served and named in the notice and order fails to answer the notice and order within the time prescribed in this section, the court may, after the time to answer such order has expired, render judgment by default against the party named in the notice for the full amount claimed by the director in the notice together with costs. In the event that a notice to withhold and deliver is served upon an employer and the property found to be subject thereto is wages, the employer may assert in the answer to all exemptions provided for by chapter 6.27 RCW to which the wage earner may be entitled.

[2011 c 290 § 4; 2001 c 146 § 9; 1995 c 199 § 4; 1993 c 496 § 2; 1987 c 442 § 1118; 1986 c 305 § 403; 1984 c 218 § 5; 1983 c 211 § 2; 1977 ex.s. c 85 § 4.]

Notes:

     Severability -- 1995 c 199: See note following RCW 51.12.120.

     Effective date -- Application--1993 c 496: See notes following RCW 4.22.070.

     Preamble -- Report to legislature -- Applicability -- Severability -- 1986 c 305: See notes following RCW 4.16.160.

     Applicability -- Severability -- 1983 c 211: See notes following RCW 51.24.050.