A Complete Guide To Washington L&I

May 3, 2021


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What is L&I? L&I stands for the Department of Labor and Industries in 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.

Read below to find out how to open your claim, 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, which is why it’s essential to go to a personal doctor and not one recommended by HR or your employer.

Doctors recommended by 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 act 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. Based on the rating you get, earnings can vary in the 6-figures for 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 to via L&I. It’s the entity that will pay the benefits, as well as settlements or pensions.

This isn’t the case for workers at companies that are self-insured, however. Instead of paying premiums to L&I, these employers 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 filed via the L&I website, through their phone line (877) 561-3453, or with a doctor.

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

After you’ve made your claim, you may 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, L&I (or insurers) may require that you get an independent check-up with one of their doctors. The IME consists 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 dropping something on the floor) to test your injury. Read more about IME tips from Emery | Reddy.

You can go to your exam with a family member or nurse to help back your claim. It’s important that one of them takes detailed notes of the exam (this can help you later in a hearing).

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?

L&I 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 its 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.

Hiring An L&I Attorney

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

The Emery | Reddy team has over 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. Get in touch with our legal team attorneys today.

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