Navigating Your Workers’ Comp Case
The workers’ compensation process is anything but straightforward. Without the right tools and resources, navigating your L&I claim can easily aggravate an already stressful situation.
1. Tell Your Employer
You cannot receive workers’ compensation benefits, let alone win our workers’ comp claim, until you report your injury or occupational illness to your employer.
2. File The Correct Forms
If you receive an injury on the job, you must file a Report of Industrial Injury or Occupational Disease (printed copies are available at your doctor’s office) within one year of the incident, or else you lose your right to do so according to RCW 51.28.050 of the Washington State Legislature. That said, while you have a year to file, it’s generally advisable to file sooner than later.
If your employer is self-insured, fill out a Self-Insured Accident Report (SIF-2) form. If your employer does not have one on hand, you can fill the SIF-2 out online or order a free copy by mail. Instructions on how to complete the form can be found here.
3. Choose A Doctor
When you have an open L&I claim, you’re entitled to medical care. However, your employer can’t make you choose a specific care provider, and they can’t force you to see a certain doctor to begin your L&I claim.
You read that right! You can choose your own L&I doctor—and it’s crucial you do so. Selecting the right care provider who will take your claim seriously, and fully explore your injury, will increase your chance to have a successful outcome in your workers’ comp case.
Here’s how it works:
- Choose any doctor who is also an approved L&I examiner.
- If you see your primary care doctor first and they’re not an approved examiner, you can switch to a different doctor of your choice.
- Should you wish to change your doctor for an L&I claim, you would complete a specific care transfer form.
4. Gather Your Documentation & Information
You will want to be prepared for any request for documentation or any questions that you might be asked when you file your claim. Being ready in advance will ease your mind and provide you with the best case scenario to win your workers’ comp claim.
Here’s what you’ll need on hand:
- The location where the injury occurred
- Contact information for any witnesses to the injury
- Employer information
- Wage information
- Names and birth dates of your dependents
- Your doctor’s first and last name*
- Hospital or clinic where you received treatment*
*If you have already seen a doctor.
5. File Your L&I Claim
Now that you’re prepared and have everything in order, you’re ready to file your claim. If you are injured at work, you have three options to file a Washington state L&I claim:
To open a workers’ compensation claim with L&I, you will need help from your doctor. Your doctor will need to complete each of the following tasks:
- Confirm that your injury is, in fact, work-related
- Determine your ability to return to work
- Complete the Accident Report form
6. Understand Your Worker’s Rights
As an employee in Washington state, you are entitled to several protections and benefits under State and Federal laws. Everyone deserves to be paid fairly, work free of discrimination and harassment, and perform their job in a safe work environment. Learn more about your worker’s rights now!
7. Prepare For Your Independent Medical Examination (IME)
If you’ve been asked to attend an IME, make no mistake—your L&I claim is on the line! Washington IME doctors work for L&I and their opinions are designed to support L&I decisions.
If you received a letter that you’ve been scheduled for an IME, we strongly recommend consulting an L&I attorney prior to attending the appointment. This puts you on the best path to win your workers’ comp claim.
The doctor’s report could come back with one or more of the following diagnoses:
- Faking or exaggerating: You aren’t injured or aren’t injured badly enough to warrant the level of care and time off requested.
- Injured outside of work: You were not injured while on the job.
- Preexisting condition: Your injury was preexisting; not the result of a workplace accident or injury.
- Light-duty: You can still perform light duty work and are required to return to work.
- No surgery: You don’t need the surgery or procedures requested.
- Maximum medical improvement: You are at Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), meaning that you are as healed as you will ever be, and must return to work immediately.
8. Keep Detailed Medical & Work Records
Now you see why it is imperative to keep copies of paperwork concerning your workers’ comp claim. This includes work restrictions, letters from your employer or the insurance company, and copies of the forms linked to and mentioned above.
Here are a few more examples of other types of records to keep copies of:
- Text messages
- Social medial posts relating to your employment
- Medical records in your possession
9. Hire An L&I Attorney
When you hire an L&I attorney, you want a law firm with extensive experience in workers’ compensation, employment law, and third-party injury claims—and one who takes the time to analyze your case thoroughly to make sure all possible claims are identified.
The award-winning L&I attorneys at Emery Reddy have won thousands of cases and secured tens of millions of dollars in awards—we can help you win your workers’ comp claim too. Emery Reddy has changed Washington’s labor and industries laws to protect workers’ rights and won some of the toughest cases against big name companies in State and Federal court.
10. Next Steps To Win Your Workers’ Comp Claim
Shortly after hiring an attorney, your legal team will create a formula to win your case. The Initial Case Plan Letter (ICPL) will detail a strategy for proceeding with your case, including a summary of the medical treatment you have received to date. As your case moves forward, you should receive regular case updates at least every other month. The case updates will inform you of the status of your claim, update you on any changes to it, and summarize the next steps in your claim.
Want More Information On How To Win Your Workers’ Comp Claim?
At Emery Reddy, PLLC, each potential new client receives a free intake consultation. During this time, an intake specialist will review your situation one-on-one with you. As valued members of the legal team, our highly trained intake specialists are here to listen to your story, inform you of your rights, and consult with our attorneys to determine if you have a case.