Seattle Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
Emery | Reddy Is Your Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Seattle
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 following videos created by our experienced Emery | Reddy, PLLC L&I attorneys:
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 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’ comp in Washington State is as follows:
1. Report your injury or illness: 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: 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 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:
- File by phone at 877.561.3453.
- File online through the L&I website’s File Fast tool
- File at your doctor’s office.
Note that if you work with a self-insured employer, you must file your claim with them.
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.
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 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 a 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 award: 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 opinion. 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)
- The seriousness of your disability: During the course of your workers’ compensation claim, you may be required to complete one or more 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: If you’re proactive regarding your injury claim and work hard to ensure your claim has the correct information, you could earn more in your L&I payout.
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 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.
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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 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 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 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.
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 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 L&I or the SIE.
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.
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.
Workers’ Compensation Requirements In Washington
1. Coverage: 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.
2. Reporting: Your doctor will send the report to L&I or your self-insured employer.
3. Premiums: Employers are responsible for paying their workers’ compensation insurance premiums.
4. Exemptions: Self-employed individuals, sole proprietors, independent contractors, and partners are exempt from workers’ compensation insurance requirements.
5. Non-compliance: 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 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 L&I state-funded claims making it more difficult to get the compensation that you deserve. 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 appeal. The best way to appeal is by contacting an experienced L&I lawyer to help you get in touch with L&I. L&I handles all workers’ compensation claims and ensures self-insured companies abide by the necessary rules to protect their employees.
Watch this video to learn more about the workers’ comp claim process
Your L&I Claim Is Worth More If You Also Have An Employment Law Claim
A significant number of L&I workers’ compensation claims often involve additional legal claims such as employment law or third-party claims. Many people file their claims without seeking representation from a Seattle workers’ compensation 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 law claim or a third-party claim. Pursuing additional legal action has the potential to significantly increase a claim’s overall compensation.
What Is An Employment Law 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. A Seattle labor and industries 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?
A 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.
Who Is At Fault For A Workplace Injury?
L&I is a no-fault system, ensuring compensation for any workplace injury. However, if a third-party is involved in causing the injury, 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 Labor & Industries Case?
If you have an L&I claim or wonder if you have an injury case, ask yourself the following:
- Have you been denied the medical care benefits to which you are legally entitled?
- Has L&I asked you to undergo an Independent Medical Exam (IME)?
- Do you have questions about the L&I claim process that you don’t understand?
If any of the above apply to you, you may have a case!
Navigating an L&I 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 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, PLLC 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 to speak with our legal team for a free case review. Please remember to have your L&I claim number readily available.
Want More Information?
During the course of your workers’ comp claim, you may be required to complete an Independent Medical Exam (IME) conducted by a doctor other than your primary provider.
The L&I workers’ compensation process is anything but straightforward. Find out the answers to your L&I workers’ comp questions today.
To determine the value of your L&I settlement you first need to understand the different types of workers’ compensation offered in Washington State.
Meet The Team
The L&I attorneys at Emery | Reddy 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 Seattle L&I attorneys use that knowledge coupled with over two 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.
With our law office location in Seattle, we serve communities throughout the region, including Vancouver, Bellevue, Everett, Olympia, Shoreline, Spokane, and Tacoma. If you’re struggling with an L&I claim, injury, or legal issue at work, please call us and see how Emery | Reddy can help you today.
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