An important part of the business of the state of Washington is the insurance of employees against industrial accident and disease. The premiums paid by employers covered by the industrial insurance laws now support awards for disability and death amounting to some eleven million dollars a year. The attorney general employs ten or twelve attorneys full time to represent the state in cases involving the Department of Labor and Industries. Not counting the expense borne by the courts, the 1951 legislature appropriated approximately $868,000 for litigation costs for the biennium. A new state agency has been created to review the decisions of the Department of Labor and Industries in the hope of remedying some of the difficulties that had arisen under prior regimes. The Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals was created in 1949 as an independent tribunal, appointed by the governor and consisting of three members selected from labor, industry, and the public respectively. Before the creation of this board, the Department of Labor and Industries, which is in effect the insurance company, adjusted its own claims, subject to review by the superior courts. This system reflected the policy established in 1911 of giving the workman "sure and certain relief," in place of his "uncertain, slow, and inadequate" common law remedy in the courts, based on the fault of the employer.
Ivan C. Rutledge,
A New Tribunal of the State of Washington,
26 Wash. L. Rev. & St. B.J.
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