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Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that provides wage replacement and medical benefits to injured workers. In Washington state, it is handled by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), an agency that oversees distributing workers’ compensation benefits to employees who are injured at work or contract an occupational illness while performing their job. Learn more by viewing the videos below created by our experienced Emery | Reddy, PLLC L&I Attorneys.

Emery | Reddy: Seattle’s Top Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

Workers Compensation 101:

Know Your Rights Video Explainers

Workers Compensation 101:

Know Your Rights FAQs

How Does Workers’ Comp Work in Washington State?

Virtually all employees in Washington state are covered by L&I — workers’ compensation insurance. Two-thirds of Washington state workers are entitled to workers’ comp benefits through the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), while the remaining one-third of workers file claims directly through their self-insured employers. To determine whether you are covered by L&I or a self-insured employer, use the Find A Self-Insured Employer search tool on the L&I website. The process of workers’ compensation in Washington state is as follows:

1. Report Your Accident

L&I or your self-insured employer must receive your Report of Accident within 1 year of your injury date to file a claim. For occupational illness claims, L&I or your self-insured employer must receive your report within two years from the date your doctor notifies you in writing that your condition is related to work.

2. Seek Medical Attention

If your doctor is one of the many healthcare providers that do not handle workers’ compensation claim cases, you can find an L&I-approved doctor on the Labor and Industries (L&I) website. If your L&I claim is approved, L&I will cover the initial visit even if it wasn’t with one of their approved doctors.

3. File a Claim

If you are injured at work, you have three options to file a Washington state L&I claim:

Note that if you work with a self-insured employer, you must file your claim with them. Contact your employer’s human resources department for help.

4. Review

L&I will investigate the claim and may request an Independent Medical Exam (IME), additional information, or further documentation to determine your eligibility. It is important to note that having an experienced Seattle L&I attorney on your side can help you receive the L&I benefits to which you are entitled.

5. Receive Benefits

L&I has a wide range of workers’ compensation benefits at its disposal to help employees recover from a workplace injury or illness. If approved, you will receive compensation such as, but not limited to, coverage for your medical treatment and time-loss benefits.

6. Vocational Rehabilitation

Vocational rehabilitation may help you return to work or find new employment if you cannot return to your previous job, or any transferable skills positions, due to your workplace injury or occupational illness.

How Much Is My Workers’ Compensation Settlement or Award Worth?

In Washington state, the money awarded to a claimant is determined by numerous factors, making it difficult to provide an accurate L&I settlement calculator. Factors that determine an award or settlement amount include the date the injury occurred, the severity of the injury, and the steps the injured worker takes to receive the compensation they need.

Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Award

When your injury can be classified as a permanent partial disability, you are entitled to workers’ compensation PPD benefits and compensation for damages. Payment is typically based on the type and severity of the injury and whether an Independent Medical Examination (IME) agrees or disagrees with the physician’s rating. Washington state L&I updates injury payouts each year based on the cost of living adjustments (COLA); the date of your injury will influence your L&I permanent partial disability (PPD) award.

The Seriousness of Your Disability

During the course of your workers’ compensation claim, you may be required to complete one or more Independent Medical Examinations (IMEs) conducted by a doctor other than your primary provider. The purpose of this exam is for L&I to have indisputable facts as to why treatment is needed regarding your medical condition. Your injury is rated as a percentage in its category and given a value of 1 – 9. Typically, the higher the number, the more significant your injury is. Your PPD award is calculated from those numbers before your case is closed. The permanent partial disability L&I settlement calculator is the L&I Disability Awards Charts.

What You’ve Done to Help Yourself

Allowing Labor and Industries (L&I) to decide what is fair is not in your best interest. The L&I Claims Manager assigned to your case has a lot of discretion to categorize the severity of your injury or illness, which determines how much L&I will compensate. Since the Claims Manager’s job is to minimize costs, few workers ever get back everything they lose after sustaining a disability. The only way to ensure that you aren’t shorted by the system and get your maximum award is to hire an experienced L&I attorney to help fight for your interests.


Watch This Video to Learn More about the Workers’ Comp Claim Process

Workers’ Compensation in Washington State: The Basics

Injured at work? Here’s what you need to know about filing a workers’ comp claim in the state of Washington from award-winning workers’ compensation lawyer Patrick B. Reddy.

What Are Washington State L&I Benefits?

L&I has a range of L&I benefits at its disposal to help employees recover from a workplace injury or occupational illness, including the following:

Medical Benefits

Medical benefits will be available to you for as long as your claim is open, even if you have returned to work. Your first visit to a doctor for a workplace injury is covered by L&I, even if your claim is not approved. If you need medical care after the first visit, you will need to see an approved provider in the L&I network.

Time-loss is partial wage replacement for an L&I claim and is paid every two weeks while you are not working due to a job injury or an occupational illness. In such cases, L&I will reimburse you for lost time with benefits between 60 – 75% of your earnings prior to the injury or illness up to a maximum cap.
Loss of Earning Power (LEP) Benefits
An injured worker can return to work and be entitled to LEP benefits with a doctor’s medical certification. You must be undergoing treatment, and your wages must be greater than 5% less than what you were earning on the date of injury.
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Awards
You may be rated for a permanent partial disability (PPD) award when L&I closes your claim if you have completed treatment and are able to work but have suffered a permanent loss of function and a qualified doctor provides L&I with a PPD rating based on objective findings. Time-loss and medical benefits will end after you have received your disability award unless the L&I claim is reopened.
L&I Disability Pensions

An L&I disability pension is a special category of pension only awarded to the most severely injured workers. If you are eligible for an L&I disability pension, you will receive a non-taxable payment every month for the rest of your life.

Claim Resolution Settlement Agreement (CRSA)

A claim resolution settlement agreement (CRSA) is an L&I settlement option where all parties agree to close an injury claim for a specified amount. When agreeing to this settlement type, the injured worker exchanges all future benefits, except medical, for the payment.

Vocational Rehabilitation
Vocational rehabilitation services are available to injured workers who are unable to return to their existing profession or any transferable skills positions they may possess based on their training, education, and experience.
Seattle Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST)
Seattle PSST is a law that requires employers to provide paid leave to their employees that can be used for medical reasons or domestic assault situations. The law was originally passed in 2012 and has evolved to include different types of workers and uses. Seattle PSST is available to any employee who works in Seattle, Washington and does not already receive paid time off benefits from their employer.
Firefighter Benefits
Washington state firefighters receive special protections that can make the success of a workers’ compensation claim far more likely. For example, firefighters who have had their claim denied can then take that claim directly to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals (BIIA). Washington state is also one of the only states that will reimburse attorney fees if a firefighter wins their appeal.
Travel Reimbursement
Travel reimbursement for mileage, parking fees (over $10), tolls, food, lodging, and lost wages could be paid in connection with medical treatment if they are pre-authorized by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) or the self-insured employer (SIE).
Property Reimbursement
Property reimbursement (also known as expense reimbursement) is a minor benefit that covers a limited range of items including clothing and personal protective equipment (PPE), prescription eyeglasses or contacts, and shoes or boots.
Death Benefits
A workplace injury or occupational illness  that results in death entitles the injured worker’s spouse and dependents to L&I death benefits, also known as L&I survivor pensions. These can include a one-time lump sum payment to the deceased’s spouse or registered domestic partner, burial reimbursements, or monthly survivor pensions.
Statue of Lady Justice at the Emery Reddy office.
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Time Loss Calculator

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*Time loss is subject to a maximum set by L&I and adjusted annually. This calculation is as of 2022. Call Emery Reddy to discuss your specific case.

Workers’ Compensation Requirements in Washington State

Understanding the intricacies of L&I — workers’ compensation is crucial for ensuring compliance and protecting worker’s rights in the event of injuries or accidents on the job. 


All employers in Washington state must provide workers’ compensation coverage. If an employer cannot acquire coverage through private insurance (known as a self-insured employer), a State fund offered by L&I can provide coverage for their employees.


Your doctor will send the report to L&I or your self-insured employer.


Employers are responsible for paying their workers’ compensation insurance premiums.


Self-employed individuals, sole proprietors, independent contractors, and partners are exempt from workers’ compensation insurance requirements.


Employers can be fined, penalized, or face legal action if they fail to comply with Washington state’s workers’ compensation requirements.

Do You Need Workers’ Compensation If You Are Self-Employed?

Self-employed individuals and sole proprietors without employees are not required to purchase workers’ compensation in Washington state. However, you can still purchase workers’ compensation for yourself to get coverage for medical expenses and wage replacement.

Any employee you hire, including any part-time employees, is entitled to workers’ compensation. Independent contractors are an exception since they are not considered employees; however, employers should be careful not to misclassify employees as independent contractors, or they may face penalties and fines for failing to provide workers’ compensation insurance. Refer to the criteria outlined in the Washington State Industrial Insurance Act to determine if an employee is correctly classified as an independent contractor.

Self-Insured Employer Claims vs. L&I Claims

Self-insured employer claims can sometimes work differently from Labor and Industries (L&I) state-funded claims making it more difficult to get the compensation to which you are entitled. Self-insured employers will do everything in their power to deny your compensation.

If you disagree with their decision, you have the right to report your problem directly to L&I and to protest or appeal with the help of an experienced L&I lawyer

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.

Who Is at Fault for a Workplace Injury?
L&I is a no-fault system, ensuring compensation for any occupational illness. However, if a third party is involved in causing your illness, you may be able to pursue legal action against them for additional compensation under third-party claims.
How Do I Know If I Have a Strong L&I Claim?

If you have an L&I claim or wonder if you should contact an experienced worker’s 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.

Want More Information?

To determine the value of your L&I claim, you first need to understand the different types of L&I awards offered in Washington state.

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.

We fight for you

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 friendly interview and intake process. I was informed thoroughly about the processes in obtaining a lawyer and was given ample time to make a decision on representation. I’m thankful for everyone’s help and looking forward to working with this Firm on my worker’s compensation claim.”

— Darren A.

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