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What Is My Workers’ Compensation Settlement Worth in Washington?

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    What Is My Workers’ Compensation Settlement Worth in Washington?

    Workers' compensation settlements can provide financial relief to individuals who have been hurt on the job. If you've been injured while working in Washington, it's essential to understand how the workers' compensation system operates and how settlement amounts are determined.

    In this helpful guide, our experienced work injury attorneys will walk you through the factors that influence workers' compensation coverage to help you navigate the process.

    Understanding Workers’ Compensation in Washington State

    Washington State's workers' compensation system is designed to provide financial assistance and medical benefits to workers who suffer job-related injuries or illnesses.

    This system is administered by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). Its primary goal is to ensure that injured workers receive necessary medical treatment and compensation for lost wages.

    Determining Eligibility for a Workers’ Compensation Settlement

    You must meet certain criteria to be eligible for a workers' compensation settlement in Washington State. Specifically:

    • You must be an employee (rather than an independent contractor);
    • Your injury or illness must be work-related;
    • You must report the injury to your employer within a given timeframe;
    • You must file a workers' compensation claim within the statute of limitations.

    If you fail to satisfy one or more of these conditions, your claim may not be approved.

    What Is the Average Workers’ Compensation Settlement in Washington?

    What Is the Average Workers’ Compensation Settlement in Washington?

    Determining the average payout for a workers' compensation settlement is a complex task, as no two workplace injuries or compensation cases are identical.

    Workers' compensation claims typically result in settlements ranging from $2,000 to $40,000.

    On average, these settlements hover around $20,000. However, it's important to remember that each case is unique and that settlement amounts can vary greatly. For instance, our firm has successfully secured significant settlements for clients, with one recent case resulting in a $1.8 million award.

    Workers’ compensation settlements can cover:

    • Past and future medical expenses, such as doctor’s visits, medical tests, hospitalization, medication, medical devices, physical therapy, and transportation costs;
    • Ongoing future care expenses;
    • Funeral expenses;
    • Lost wages if you can’t work or your injuries make it impossible to earn as much as you otherwise would have;
    • Disability or specific loss benefits awarded for certain permanent and/or impairing injuries;
    • Vocational retraining.

    Unlike in a standard personal injury claim, you can’t receive compensation for emotional distress or pain and suffering with workers’ compensation and are ineligible to receive punitive damages.

    How to Calculate Workers’ Compensation Cost in Washington

    Evaluating a workers' compensation settlement in Washington is a complex process that involves analyzing a combination of factors, including lost wages, medical expenses, and permanent impairment benefits. Since no two injury scenarios are the same, total settlement amounts also tend to vary widely.

    To shed some light on this matter, here's a simplified overview of how workers' compensation costs are calculated.

    Determining the Nature and Extent of the Injury

    Determining the Nature and Extent of the Injury

    The first step in calculating a workers' comp settlement is to assess the nature and severity of the injury in question. In Washington, injuries can be classified into two categories: temporary disability injuries and partial permanent disabilities.

    Temporary Disability (Time-Loss) Injuries

    These are temporary injuries that prevent you from working for a certain period. The compensation is typically based on the wages you lost during your recovery period.

    If your injury is classified as a time-loss injury, the calculation typically involves the following steps:

    1. Determine your average monthly wage (AMW); this figure is based on your earnings before the injury;
    2. Calculate your monthly time-loss compensation rate; in Washington, this is typically 60%–75% of your AMW;
    3. Multiply your monthly time-loss compensation rate by the number of months you’re expected to be unable to work.

    While it’s possible to perform this calculation yourself, it’s advisable to consult a qualified workers’ compensation attorney, who will be able to account for necessary variables you might not be aware of.

    Partial Permanent Disabilities (PPD)

    If you have some permanent limitations because of your injury or illness, you'll be eligible for a permanent partial disability (PPD) award. L&I publishes an annual schedule that sets the amount of awards for impairment to certain body parts, organs, and bodily systems, depending on the level of impairment and the date of the injury.

    For injuries resulting in permanent partial disabilities, Washington State uses a structured formula to calculate benefits. This formula takes into account the impairment rating assigned by a healthcare provider and your age at the time of the injury. The younger you are and the higher the impairment rating, the greater your partial disability benefits will be.

    The formula is as follows:

    • Impairment rating x age multiplier x maximum PPD benefit rate = your PPD benefit amount

    The maximum PPD benefit rate is set by the state and may change from year to year.

    Adding Medical Expenses and Vocational Rehabilitation Costs

    Adding Medical Expenses and Vocational Rehabilitation Costs

    In addition to time-loss and PPD benefits, you’re entitled to reimbursement for reasonable and necessary medical expenses related to your work injury. This can include doctor visits, surgeries, physical therapy, medications, and more. Keep records of all your medical expenses, as they should be included in your settlement.

    If your injury requires vocational rehabilitation, your settlement may also reflect the cost of retraining for a new job or other vocational services.

    Factoring in Legal Fees

    If you’ve hired an attorney to assist you with your workers' compensation claim, their fees should be incorporated into the settlement calculation. In Washington, attorney fees are typically capped at a percentage of the calculated settlement amount.

    Death Benefits

    In the unfortunate event of an employee's death resulting from a work-related injury or illness, specific benefits are available to the surviving family members. The surviving spouse is entitled to receive a monthly pension, the amount of which depends on the deceased employee's pre-injury wages and the number of dependent children in the custody of the surviving spouse.

    If there’s no surviving spouse or the spouse remarries, smaller pension payments may be allocated to the employee's surviving children until they turn 18 (or 23 if they’re full-time students). Additionally, workers' compensation covers burial or cremation expenses up to a maximum limit based on the statewide average monthly wage.

    Get Help with Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

    Each workers' compensation case in Washington State is unique, and settlements can vary based on numerous factors. If you find yourself having to rely on the workers' compensation system, it's crucial to seek professional advice from an experienced attorney who focuses on workers' compensation claims.

    The legal team at Lehmbecker Law can provide valuable guidance and ensure that you receive fair and just compensation for your workplace injury. Contact us today to discuss your case.

    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
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    Are workers’ comp settlements taxable?

    In most cases, workers' compensation settlements aren’t taxable at the federal or state level. These settlements are generally considered non-taxable income, which ensures that injured workers receive the full financial support they need.

    How long does it take to get a workers' comp settlement?

    The time it takes to receive a workers' comp settlement depends on factors like the complexity of your case, your attorney’s ability to negotiate, and state regulations. Some settlements can be reached relatively quickly, while others may take several months or even longer.

    Can my workers’ comp settlement be garnished?

    In some situations, workers' compensation settlements can be subject to garnishment. If you have outstanding debts, creditors may seek to garnish a portion of your settlement. Consult an attorney to understand your specific situation and take steps to protect your settlement from garnishment if possible.