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Top 10 Tips to Make the Most of Your Workers’ Comp Claim

Navigating a Workers’ Comp Claim

While a workers’ compensation claim isn’t litigated and “won” like an employment or personal injury claim, there are still ways an injured worker can fight for further treatment and a greater award for their industrial injury or occupational illness. The workers’ compensation claim process is anything but straightforward. Without the right tools and resources, navigating your L&I claim can easily aggravate an already stressful situation. To make the most of your workers’ compensation claim follow the ten steps below.

timothy emery and patrick reddy in front of the Seattle Courthouse

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 sustain 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 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 must complete a specific care transfer form.

4. Gather Your Documentation and 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 make the most of your workers’ comp claim.

Have the following 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:

  1. File by phone at 877.561.3453.
  2. File online.
  3. File at your doctor’s office.


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 Report of Accident 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.

A doctors preforms a medical examination on a patient.

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 contacting an L&I attorney prior to attending the appointment. This puts you on the best path to receive the most treatment and benefits for 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 and not the result of nor exaggerated by 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 and 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. You can also keep records in the following formats:


  • E-mails
  • Text messages
  • Social medial posts relating to your employment

Hard copy

  • Medical records in your possession
  • Diaries
  • Spreadsheets
  • Photographs
  • Videotapes

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, PLLC 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 we’ve won some of the toughest cases against big name companies in state and federal court.

10. Next Steps to Getting the Most for 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.


Watch This Video to Learn More about the Most Common Employment Law Violations

Your L&I Claim Is Worth More If You Also Have an Employment Claim

A significant number of L&I — workers’ compensation claims often involve additional legal claims such as employment or third-party claims. Many people file their claims without seeking representation from an L&I attorney and thus never discover that, in addition to their L&I claim, they may be missing out on the ability to file an employment claim or a third-party claim. Pursuing additional legal action with the help of an experienced Labor and Industries attorney has the potential to significantly increase a claim’s overall compensation. At Emery | Reddy, our experienced Attorneys practice both Employment and Workers’ Compensation Law, which means we will investigate all aspects of your claim to make sure you aren’t missing out on any potential benefits.

What Is an Employment Claim?

Many injured workers find that their employer has taken, or plans to take, adverse action against them because they filed an L&I claim or they are out of work. You can file a lawsuit against your employer for several reasons, including retaliation, wrongful termination, disability discrimination, or unpaid wages. An L&I attorney who is experienced in both L&I — Workers’ Compensation Law and Employment Law can help you with your L&I claim while simultaneously filing a federal or state law claim for the violation of workers’ rights by your employer.

What Is a Third-Party Claim?

third-party claim is one in which someone other than your employer or co-worker is responsible for your injury. If you have been injured on the job due to someone else’s actions or negligence, you may be entitled to additional compensation through a third-party claim, which combines your L&I claim with a personal injury claim using the same facts.

Unlike workers’ compensation payments, there is no limit to the amount of compensation an injured worker may seek in third-party damages. Third-party claims are private matters and are typically litigated directly with the Washington State Superior Court.

How Do I Know If I Have a Strong L&I Claim?​

timothy emery and patrick reddy walking in downtown seattle

If you have an L&I claim or wonder if you need the assistance of an experienced L&I — workers’ compensation attorney, ask yourself the following:

If any of the above apply to you, Emery | Reddy may be able to help.

Navigating a workers’ compensation claim can be difficult and very time-consuming, especially when you’re ill or injured. You want to focus on healing and make sure your bills are paid, but if you don’t file things properly or on time, your health, home, and job could be in jeopardy. Many individuals miss out on much-needed L&I benefits because they don’t understand what to do or how to get the most compensation for their injuries. If you are experiencing any challenges in your case, a Labor and Industries attorney can assist you. By contacting Emery | Reddy as soon as possible after you’ve been injured, we can help you avoid the common pitfalls of filing and navigating an L&I claim. Our Seattle L&I Attorneys are here for you every step of the way.

Emery | Reddy Can Help You with Your L&I Claim

Emery | Reddy is the only law firm in Washington state that is equipped to provide comprehensive representation on your case from every angle. Our Seattle L&I Attorneys thoroughly assess every case to determine if our clients have additional claims, and at times this can extend far beyond the underlying workers’ compensation claim.

If you have been injured in the workplace, call Emery | Reddy today for a Free Case Review with an experienced Intake Specialist to learn more about how we may be able help you.

Want More Information?

When you get hurt, fall ill, or contract certain types of disease at work, you’re entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

The Labor and Industries claim process is anything but straightforward. Find out the answers to your L&I — workers’ comp questions today.

It is crucial to navigate the L&I claims process with care and attention to detail. Learn how to avoid mistakes when filing your claim.


Meet the Team

The L&I Attorneys at Emery | Reddy, PLLC are passionate about helping workers with L&I claims and Employment Law issues. We Help Workers®. It’s our motto and what drives us every day.

We know how L&I and big companies think, and we understand the tactics they use. Our Labor and Industries Attorneys use that knowledge coupled with over three decades of experience to help our clients get access to the L&I benefits to which they are legally entitled and hold employers accountable when they break the law.

If you’re struggling with an L&I claim, injury, or legal issue at work, call us for a Free Case Review with an experienced Intake Specialist to learn more about how Emery | Reddy may be able to help you today.

“Very prompt, understanding, and, Annie French was very helpful and walked me through all documents needed to be signed.”

— Mitch S.

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