Can I Reopen A Workers’ Comp Claim In Washington?
If your workplace injury or occupational disease worsens, you and your doctor may apply to reopen your workers’ comp claim. There must be medical evidence from an L&I-approved provider stating that after your claim closed, the condition caused by the original workplace injury worsened and needs more medical attention.
How Do I Reopen A Workers’ Comp Claim?
You may apply to reopen your L&I claim by submitting an Application to Reopen Claim through the Washington Department of Labor and Industries (L&I). If your claim was rejected you will not be able to reopen it, however you can file a claim for a new injury or re-injury of a preexisting condition.
If you have questions about how to reopen your workers’ comp claim and it has been some time since your claim has closed, make an appointment with your doctor so they can help you submit the proper paperwork. You should also contact an experienced L&I attorney right away.
Time Limitations And Deadlines
The amount of time that you have to reopen your L&I claim depends on the benefits you are seeking:
- For medical treatment only, you may apply at any time.
- For both wage replacement benefits and medical treatment, apply within 7 years of the date your claim was first closed (10 years for eye injuries).
- If your claim has been closed for more than 7 years, you may apply for medical benefits. However, only the L&I Director may grant additional disability benefits such as wage replacement or disability awards for these claims.
Once you submit your application to reopen a workers’ comp claim, L&I has 90 days from receipt to approve or deny it–although they can choose to extend the decision-making period by an additional 60 days. Reasons for an extension could be:
- L&I is unable to schedule and obtain the results of an Independent Medical Examination (IME).
- The doctor has failed to respond to L&I’s requests for clarification or additional information.
Can I Reopen My L&I Claim?
If your injury or occupational illness worsens, you and your doctor may apply to reopen your claim by completing the Application to Reopen Claim Due to Worsening of Condition on the L&I website. You must provide objective medical evidence that after your claim has closed, your work-related injury or illness has worsened and needs more medical attention.
Your provider will need to provide certain information including:
- Current symptoms
- First date of your visit after claim closure
- Whether the symptoms are the result of the covered injury
- Critical medical findings supporting a measurable worsening of workplace injury or illness
- Determination of the degree of worsening of the injury or illness
- If the injury prevents you from working
- Description of any physical limitation or restrictions preventing you from working
- Whether light or modified duty is a viable option for returning to work
- All medical factors that might impede or influence your recovery
- A specific curative treatment plan
- A final diagnosis
Get Help Reopening Your L&I Claim
The process of reopening a L&I claim can be complex and difficult. If you have applied to reopen your claim, your claim was rejected, or your application to reopen has been denied, you should immediately seek advice from the L&I attorneys at Emery | Reddy, PLLC. Failure to act in a timely fashion could result in the permanent denial of benefits.
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 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 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 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?
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 Case?
The bottom line is that anyone who isn’t familiar with L&I claims should seek the input of experienced L&I attorneys who are.
After years of helping injured workers, Emery | Reddy, PLLC has recovered hundreds of millions for our clients. Our team of L&I attorneys is experienced in litigating L&I claims, injury law claims, and employment violations. We understand how to leverage each claim in state (or federal) court and before the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals to maximize the value of all of your claims.
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. We 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?
L&I workers’ compensation claims are denied for any number of reasons, such as missed deadlines or disputes about whether the injury was work-related. It takes experience and persistence to get L&I to reverse a denied workers’ comp claim.
The L&I workers’ compensation process is anything but straightforward. Find out the answers to your L&I workers’ comp questions today.
If your work injury was the result of another party’s actions or if you were hurt at an off-site job location, you may have the right to seek additional benefits through a third-party claim.
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 it’s 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 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.
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.