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How to File a Workers' Compensation Claim in Washington State

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    How to File a Workers' Compensation Claim in Washington State

    You may be familiar with workers’ compensation — insurance intended to ensure that employees hurt on the job receive good medical care and short-term disability wages. 

    However, there are specific things you need to know about filing workers’ comp claims; if you don't complete all the required steps, you may not receive all the benefits you’re entitled to.

    Washington employees injured on the job must receive treatment from an employer-designated physician and fill out the L&I paperwork required for the claim. But you still may not receive the benefits you’re entitled to. A Washington workers’ comp attorney can help.

    Washington State Has Workers’ Compensation — Are You Covered?

    how to file workers comp

    The vast majority of employees in Washington are covered by Washington State workers’ comp. Employers must provide coverage to all workers, including temporary and part-time employees. Undocumented workers are also eligible.

    Not every type of workplace is covered by workers’ comp. Exceptions include:

    • Maritime workers;
    • Railroad workers;
    • Federal employees (covered by the Federal Employees Compensation Act).

    There are also exceptions to workplace injuries covered by workers' compensation in Washington.

    These include:

    • You were injured because you engaged in unauthorized activity or broke a safety policy;
    • You were under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
    • You were fighting with a co-worker;
    • The injury is a pre-existing condition;

    Also, if the event is considered an “act of God,” you won’t be covered.

    Common Injuries and Medical Conditions Eligible for Workers’ Compensation

    workers comp claims

    Some industries have higher rates of workplace injuries due to the nature of the work involved, but anyone can get hurt at work or develop a medical condition due to the requirements of their job.

    Common conditions and injuries that qualify for workers' compensation in WA include:

    • Slips or trips and falls;
    • Burns and electrocutions;
    • Repetitive motion injuries;
    • Occupational disease;
    • Injuries caused by working with heavy machinery or work equipment;
    • Heat stroke or exhaustion;

    Although some people associate workers’ compensation with a catastrophic injury, the truth is any injury can be covered as long as it happened at work.

    Types of Benefits Provided by Workers' Compensation

    how to file a workers comp claim

    Your Washington claim of compensation can provide much-needed financial relief to workers whose families depend on their wages, including:

    • Medical coverage, including emergency treatment, hospital stays, and aftercare;
    • Time-loss compensation, or reimbursement of lost wages from time missed at work;
    • Loss of earning power (LEP) if you cannot continue full-time work or work the same job you had before your injury;
    • Travel reimbursement to and from medical appointments;
    • Vocational services to help you learn new skills to secure a job that you can do with your changed abilities;
    • Permanent partial disability (PPD), paid to employees who are permanently impaired due to the work injury;
    • Structured settlement, which is claim resolution offered to employees who are over 50 and have had their claim accepted;
    • Total disability pension if you are injured to the point that you can no longer work;
    • Death benefits for families whose loved ones tragically did not survive their workplace accidents;

    Dealing with workers’ comp is difficult, especially for people with little knowledge of Washington L&I laws or who are still recovering from their injuries. A skilled attorney can advise you on what benefits you’re eligible for and help you file or appeal workers' compensation claims.

    L&I vs. Self-Insurance Workers’ Compensation

    Washington State’s Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) processes most workers' compensation claims in the state. For self-insured employers, however, the process is a little different.

    Filing for workers’ comp in these cases involves the employer directly providing workers' compensation insurance benefits for employees, including sole proprietors with no employees.

    All employers, regardless of insurance type, must follow state guidelines for workers' compensation benefits.

    How to Apply for Workers Comp

    Filing a workers’ comp claim in Washington State starts with a medical evaluation.

    Make sure to tell the doctor that you were injured on the job and that you would like them to submit your claim. 

    After this, the next steps for how to file a workers’ comp claim include:

    • Report the incident to your employer in writing, following company reporting guidelines, and ask for your own copy of the Report of Accident (ROA);
    • The employer then forwards the claim to the L&I per the statute of limitations, so this department can assist you with obtaining your benefits;
    • If your employer is self-insured, ask for Form SIF-2, the Report of Accident, then turn this in to your employer and visit the doctor;

    Filing L&I claims in Washington State is the insured employee’s responsibility. Although the employer must also report workplace accidents and workers' compensation claims, it’s still up to you to ensure that all the right documentation is submitted.

    What Is the Statute of Limitations for Washington State Workers Comp? 

    The statute of limitations for filing workers' compensation in Washington State is one year from the date of the injury. If you suffered a work-related illness, though, you have two years from the date of diagnosis to file a workers' compensation claim.

    Some workers' compensation cases involve the actions of a third party, such as a vendor or another driver. In these cases, the statute of limitations to file a claim is three years, under Washington personal injury claim statutes.

    If you miss the filing deadline for your workers' comp claim, then you will not receive benefits.

    How Much Will My L&I Benefits Be? 

    how to file a workers comp claim

    The dollar amount for a claim for compensation is one of the biggest concerns for injured workers. The answer depends on a few factors. The L&I Department issues several benefits in Washington workers' compensation cases; if you disagree with the amount assigned to you, you must formally petition to change it.

    A worker receives a percentage of wages based upon family status and number of dependents at the time of injury. A worker is entitled to 60% of their gross monthly wage. An additional 5% is added for a spouse and 2% for each dependent child, up to five children.

    Get Our Washington State Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Help

    Once you file the L&I benefits claim, the department reviews it to determine whether you are eligible and what kind of workers' compensation insurance benefits you may be eligible to receive.

    Schedule a Consultation With Lehmbecker Law Today

    If you are still wondering, “How do I file an L&I claim in Washington State?” the Washington workers' compensation attorneys at Lehmbecker Law can help. We offer free consultations, so don’t delay — contact us today!

    Request a Consultation

    Larry A. Lehmbecker
    Firm Founder, Larry Lehmbecker, has nearly 40 year’s of experience fighting for the injured in Washington State. He is always eager to share his knowledge to help those in need.
    Contact Lehmbecker Law Today
    Our attorneys and paralegals have decades of experience to help ensure you get the proper treatment for your injuries
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    Do I have a choice of doctors?

    Yes, Washington workers' comp laws permit injured workers to choose their own doctor. However, you must choose a physician on the L&I Department’s approved physician list.

    How do I know the status of my L&I claim?

    An injured worker can easily check the status of their claim on the Washington Department of Labor & Industries website. If your employer is with a self-insured administrator, you will need to call the self-insured claim manager assigned to your claim.

    How do I file a claim with a self-insured employer?

    Fill out a Self-Insured Accident Report. You can get this from your company's HR department. Take the form to your medical provider, and tell them you are seeking treatment for a work-related injury. The doctor can also file the form online with your employer's workers' compensation insurance carrier.