Obtaining Workers’ Compensation in Washington State

Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that offers financial and medical benefits to employees who got injured or developed a health condition due to their job. In Washington State, the Department of Labor and Industries, also known as L&I, oversees rules and regulations companies must follow, including when it comes to protecting their employees. No matter your professional field, you are typically eligible for some sort of workers’ compensation.

Understanding what types of medical issues and benefits workers’ compensation can address help you determine whether you can file a claim. Hiring a reputable attorney who is familiar with both personal injury and employees’ rights can help you throughout the claim process and secure a positive outcome.

Common Injuries and Medical Conditions Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?

Not all professional occupations present the same risk of workers’ injuries, although employees from any field may suffer from one, due to the wide range of injuries or occupational illnesses that are eligible for workers’ compensation.

Common work injuries and health conditions include:

  • Slips and falls
  • Electrocution
  • Burns
  • Injuries due to repetitive strain
  • Injuries due to machinery and other work equipment
  • Injuries due to infrastructure or building collapses
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Overexertion or heat strokes
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Exposure to harmful substances
  • Loss of sight or hearing
  • Limb loss

Although people often associate workers’ compensation claims with severe or life-threatening injuries, you may submit a claim and receive benefits for moderate health issues as long as you and your doctor can prove it happened due to your job.

What Types of Benefits Can Worker’s Compensation Provide?

The purpose of workers’ comp benefits is to help cover medical expenses for your work-related injury or other health issues during your recovery and make up for a temporary loss of income.

L&I benefits can include:

  • Medical coverage if you see an in-network doctor
  • Drug coverage for prescription medications on a state-approved list
  • Personal property replacement for items such as glasses or personal protective equipment
  • Wage replacement
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Temporary disability
  • Permanent partial disability
  • Lifetime pensions

Vocational rehabilitation can help you learn new skills when your injury or occupational illness prevents you from returning to your previous job duties.

What Is the Difference Between L&I And Self-Insurance Workers’ Compensation?

The Department of L&I handles most workers’ compensation claims in Washington state. However, about 30 percent of employers are self-insured and must provide workers’ compensation benefits directly to their employees. Self-insurance is also the option available to sole proprietors who have no employees.

Regardless of the type of insurance your employer uses, they must adhere to all rules established by the state’s labor and industry department.

How Do I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Washington State?

You can file a claim with the state’s Department of Labor and Industries online, by phone, or from your doctor’s office. However, you should talk with an experienced attorney before beginning the process to maximize your chances of success.

Your doctor must provide the following information to ensure your claim’s validity:

  • Establish that your injury or medical condition is work-related
  • Assess your ability to resume your professional duties
  • Complete the Accident Report form

After L&I receive your claim, they may ask you to see another doctor of their choosing for an independent medical examination or IME. The purpose of this additional evaluation is to avoid misdiagnosis or mischaracterization of your health issue.

Benefits of Working with an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Hiring a reputable lawyer can make a significant difference in L&I approving your claim in Washington state. When you first contact your attorney, they can carefully evaluate your situation and determine what type of workers’ compensation benefits you may request. They can also ensure that you submit all necessary paperwork within the statutes of limitations.

As they accompany you at every step of the process, they can address any questions or concerns you may have. In the event that L&I deny your claim, they can help you figure out what your options are.

A workers’ compensation attorney is crucial if your work injury involved a third party such as a contractor or manufacturer. In such cases, you may file both a personal injury and a workers’ compensation claims, which can result in greater compensation.

If you need legal advice to understand your employer’s rights in Tacoma or its surrounding areas, contact Hester Law Group today at (253) 300-3034 to schedule a free consultation.