What You Need to Know About Workers’ Compensation in Washington State
If you are hurt on the job, you have legal rights to compensation and medical care. The Department of Labor & Industries administers Washington’s workers’ comp program. However, having rights does not guarantee your claim will be approved or stay open for the time needed for your recovery.
Understanding how the workers’ compensation system works can mean the difference between receiving benefits and being denied.
As a worker compensation law firm, we handle dozens of L&I claims every day. These steps will help you navigate through the system.
If you have been injured on the job, get medical attention as soon as possible and tell your health care provider that the injury is work related. Which form they use will depend on whether your employer is self-insured and administers their own claims, or uses the state fund in which case the claim is administered by L&I.
Don’t delay this most important first step. Seek emergency care if necessary. You are entitled to choose your own provider as long as they are qualified to treat your injury. Your provider can be a physician, chiropractor, osteopath, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant. Your medical provider will help you with the paperwork needed to file your compensation claim and document your need for benefits throughout the claim.
Report the injury to your employer; you have a duty to do so. Again, avoid any delay in reporting your injury. Your employer is required to complete a portion of the claim form. If you employer is tries to prevent you from filing a claim or retaliates against you for filing a claim, you need to consult with an attorney immediately to protect your rights.
Once Department of Labor and Industries or your self-insured employer has
• your application,
• your doctor’s initial report and
• your employer’s report of injury
Then your claim will be allowed or denied.
If your claim is allowed, you are eligible for benefits including medical care and time loss compensation if you have to miss more than 3 days because of your injury. If your injury causes permanent impairment in your ability to function, you may be eligible for permanent partial disability award when your claim closes. Claims close when you are found to be medically stable and able to work.
If you claim is denied, you may protest that determination. You will probably need to provide additional medical documentation or confirmation from witnesses that you were injured at work. An attorney can help you determine what additional documentation is needed to support your claim.
You must protest denial of your claim or any other adverse order within 60 days after you receive it.
L&I’s website says you don’t need an attorney to handle your claim. However, their own policies seem to dictate otherwise. If you have been hurt at work and are struggling with procedures, and decisions that you do not understand, call us today.
At Leonard W. Moen & Associates, we handle worker comp claims because injured workers want to heal from not fight about their injuries.
Call today for a free consultation. We get paid only if we help you obtain or increase your benefits.