You Have Been Injured at Work...What to Do Next
Representation For On-The-Job Injuries
If you are injured on the job, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits include medical care at no cost to you, time loss benefits (wage replacement) and, if necessary, vocational retraining. These benefits continue until your condition improves as much as possible and you are able to return to work. If, because of your injury, you are not able to work, you may be entitled to pension benefits – wage replacement for the rest of your life. If you are able to return to work and your condition permanently limits your ability to function, you will be paid a permanent partial disability award when your claim closes.
These same benefits are available if you suffer an occupational disease, or an industrial injury. An occupational disease claim is for bodily harm resulting from exposure to distinctive conditions of employment. Occupational diseases include degenerative conditions such as arthritis of major joints due to years of heavy labor, carpal tunnel syndrome in workers who have used vibrational tools over the course of years and degenerative disc disease in workers who worked in particularly awkward positions.
An industrial injury is bodily (or mental) harm caused by a single traumatic event, such as a fall, cut, or motor vehicle accident. Industrial injuries can result in brain injuries, amputations which cause limitations that last a lifetime or in sprains and strains that resolve within a few weeks with no permanent harm.
Some conditions, such as rotator cuff tears, may result from an occupational disease or an industrial injury. Hearing loss caused by work in noisy environments over time are occupational disease claims. If an explosion results in hearing loss, it would be an industrial injury.
What follows are some commonly asked questions regarding workers' compensation issues and general answers to those questions. Each situation is different. This is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice with respect to your specific situation.
Q: What is Workers' Compensation?
A: Workers' Compensation, or Industrial Insurance, is a system to provide basic benefits to people injured on the job. The goal of the law is to provide sure and certain benefits to reduce the physical and economic suffering of people injured on the job.
Compensation is provided for employees injured on the job regardless of who is at fault. In exchange for this no fault coverage, employers cannot usually be sued for negligence. However, if a third party's negligence causes or contributes to your work related injury or illness you may be able to sue that person or company. A third party is someone other than your employer or a co-worker.
Most workers comp claims are administered by the Department of Labor and Industries. Some employers are self-insured, which means they pay benefits directly and will manage your claim themselves or through a third-party administrator. The Department oversees the self-insured claims and may intervene to resolve disputes. You are entitled to the same benefits whether your employer is state funded or self-insured.
Q: How do I file a claim for workers' compensation?
A: When you first seek medical care for your injury, let the provider know that you think it is work-related. The medical provider’s office should have the application for benefits and will help you complete and file that application. The application requires information about you and the facts of your claim and a medical opinion that relates your claim to your work.
You should notify your employer when you suffer an on-the-job injury or illness. Many employers will recommend that you go to a specific clinic, but you need not do so. You have the right to choose your medical providers, provided they are in the L&I network.
Q: How long do I have to file a claim?
A: You have one (1) year from the date of your accident to file an application for benefits to open your claim. Applications for occupational disease claims must be filed within two (2) years of learning you have a work-related disease.
The goal of Leonard W. Moen & Associates is to ensure that you receive the complete benefits to which you are entitled under the Industrial Insurance Act.
Just make sure you act within the timeline for appealing any order or decision.
For a no-fee consultation on your claim,
call our office to schedule an appointment today: 425-227-4260