Workers’ compensation benefits in Washington state

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Workers’ compensation insurance has been around for nearly 90 years and is mandated in every U.S. state and the District of Columbia to provide medical and financial benefits to employees who are injured or contract certain illnesses at work.

But workers’ comp rules vary widely from jurisdiction-to-jurisdiction in how the benefit are funded, which benefits are on offer and which employees are covered.

A recent report by the nonprofit National Academy of Social Insurance compares and contrasts workers’ comp systems across the country. From the point of view of employees, Washington’s workers’ comp program is unique in a number of ways.

Here are some of the Washington state highlights, from the point of view of employees:

-In 1911, Washington was one of a handful of states to enact the first state workers’ compensation laws.

-In Washington, the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) administers just under 80 percent of all workers’ comp claims filed in the state. The remainder are handles by self-insured employers.

Workers’ comp FAQ: How to file an L&I claim

-Between 2014 and 2018, Washington witnessed the largest percentage increase (34%) of covered wages in the entire country.

-Washington is one of only 14 jurisdictions that do not exempt agriculture jobs from workers’ comp benefits.

-Washington, Oregon and New Mexico are the only states in which employees pay part of the cost of workers’ comp benefits through direct payroll deductions. In 2018, nearly $707 million or 23% of total workers’ comp costs in Washington came out of workers’ pockets. In all other states, employers are responsible for footing the insurance bill.


Emery Reddy helps workers. Call us for a free consultation if you have an L&I, workers’ comp, or other employment law claim. You won’t get better advice.

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