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What Is L&I: A Complete Guide

What is L&I? Well, it’s the Department of Labor and Industries of Washington state, the government agency responsible for workers’ compensation.

In this guide, you’ll learn how L&I works and how to get benefits for an injury you sustained from work. Our lawyers have 15 years of experience on the topic and are readily available to answer any questions.

So, read below to find out how to issue your claim, how to prepare for the medical exam, and how much compensation you can earn!

How much do you get paid on L&I?

The compensation you get from L&I insurance depends on the “rating” your injury will receive. Whenever you make a claim, the department will give a rating to your injury depending on its severity.

This rating is heavily impacted by the diagnosis the doctor gives you, so that’s why it’s essential to go to a personal doctor and not one recommended by HR or your employer.

Doctors of your company can downplay the severity of your injury to reduce the compensation you receive. And it’s important you describe in full detail the pain you feel from your injury — this isn’t the time to play it tough.

But when it comes to how much you get paid, it depends on the benefits you’ll receive from your claim.
If you get wage replacement (also known as time loss compensation), you’ll earn 60 – 75% of your earnings prior to the injury. The same applies to pensions if you are unable to work anymore.

But if you aim for a settlement, the sum can vary dramatically according to the injury. According to the rating you get, earnings can vary in the 6-figures for compensation.

Learn more about benefits for workers compensation.

What is the difference between workers’ comp and L&I?

L&I stands for the Department of Labor and Industries. It is the entity responsible for workers’ comp for most Washington state workers.

In other words, workers’ comp is a right you have access through via L&I. It’s the entity that will pay the benefits, as well as settlements or pensions.

This isn’t the case however of workers at companies that are self-insured. These employers instead of paying premiums to L&I, opt for an insurance company to pay workers’ comp.

And since these employers hired an insurance provider, making your workers’ comp claim with them is more difficult. They have lawyers who will actively do their best to dismiss your case and provide the least compensation possible.

That’s why if you’re dealing with a self-insured employer, you definitely need the help of an experienced workers’ comp attorney.

If you don’t know if your company is affiliated with L&I or not, our team can find out for you.

How does L&I work in Washington state?

In Washington, a workers’ comp claim can be done via the L&I website, through their phone at (877) 561-3453 or with a doctor.

In case you contact L&I yourself, you’ll need to hand in reports on your injury and forms. If you do this with the doctor, they’ll fill the paperwork for you.

After you’ve made your claim, you’ll need to go through an independent medical examination (IME).

How to prepare for the IME

The IME is an important step in your claim, which will impact how much compensation you get.

Even though you’ve been diagnosed by a doctor, the L&I (or insurers) demand that you get an independent check-up with one of their doctors. The IME consists more of an interview of around 30 minutes, in which questions will be asked about your injury.

Be careful that some IME doctors will have “gotcha” questions to catch you off-guard, or even create scenarios (such as drop something on the floor) to test your injury.

A workers’ compensation lawyer will help you prepare for the IME and be wary of these “gotcha” questions. A general recommendation is to not provide any information that isn’t requested and to keep answers short.

You can go to your exam with a lawyer or nurse to help back your claim.

It’s important one of them takes detailed notes of the exam (this can help you later in a hearing) or you record the interview yourself on your phone. You have full rights to a recording and the doctor can’t say no to this.

Also, do not agree to go through exams you have already done with your personal doctor. You don’t have to waste time or go through invasive procedures you’ve already gone through.

Who pays Washington L&I?

The L&I department is funded by premiums paid by companies in Washington. By law, all companies must fund workers’ compensation either via L&I or a certified insurer.

Premiums (L&I tax) paid by the companies vary according to their industry and the hours worked by their staff.

You can learn more about how L&I works through their official workers’ compensation guide.

Is L&I pension taxable?

No. Pensions issued by L&I are non-taxable. That means you won’t need to fill in 1099 or W-2 forms for your workers’ comp pension.

However, keep in mind that if you start receiving Social Security benefits, your L&I pension may be affected.

Our lawyers will gladly explain how this could happen and what to do if you’re eligible for a pension due to your work injury.

Learn more about workers comp pensions on the official L&I website.

Get in touch with our experienced lawyers

Do you need help with your L&I workers’ compensation?

Our team has 15 years of experience helping Washington state workers fill in their forms correctly, prepare for the IME, and even how to answer questions in a hearing.

We will gladly help you out on every step towards the compensation you deserve and work hard to achieve it.

So, click the link below to get in touch with our workers’ comp attorneys:

Contact Us.