Many Washington workers contact us with the following question: “I received a bill from my doctor for medical services related to my workers’ compensation (L&I) claim. Do I have to pay it”?
The answer is “No”: injured workers do not have to cover costs for medical treatment resulting from workplace accidents or occupational illness.
There is often widespread confusion about paying medical bills that result from work-related injuries and accidents, but the policy here is quite simple. For example, take the hypothetical worker Celeste. Working at a warehouse, Celeste dropped a heavy box on her foot. Because of the injury this caused, she was not able to walk and needed to go straight to the emergency room for a broken foot. After her treatment, the hospital sent Celeste an expensive bill. What should she do?
Celeste should not pay this bill!
Injured Workers are not Responsible for Medical Bills
Under workers’ compensation law, the employer’s insurance must cover all expenses for any required medical treatment resulting from an on-the-job injury. Hospital, medical center and doctor or therapists’ bills will be covered by the insured party unless Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries gives notice of a rejected workers’ compensation claim, or resolves a dispute over your medical bills in favor of the insurance carrier. If an insurance company declines to pay for treatment, your doctor or medical provider has the responsibility to submit those disputed medical bills to Washington’s L&I board for reconciliation or arbitration. You are highly advised to contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney to oversee this process and ensure that your outcome is favorable.
In Celeste’s case, her workers’ compensation claim was approved by the insurance company. Since she was not responsible for any costs related to that initial treatment in the emergency room, Celeste requested that the hospital submit the unresolved bill to her employer’s insurance company rather than paying it herself.
Remember, injured workers are not responsible for covering medical bills and other related costs of their workplace accident.
Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
It is always risky for workers to manage these negotiations on their own without consulting an L&I attorney. If you have experienced a work injury and need help with your Labor & Industries claim, contact a Seattle Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for a free consultation.