Workers' Compensation in Washington
Workers' compensation in Washington State (also known as work compensation, workman's compensation, workman's comp and workers' comp) is designed to help workers who have been injured in work-related accidents or who have become ill as a result of work conditions. Most employers in Washington State who employ one or more employees are required to carry workers' comp insurance. However, independent contractors are not covered by workers' comp. If you have a work compensation claim, you should file your claim with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries.
Be advised that oftentimes workers' comp cases can get complicated, and it is essential that you have legal assistance. A Washington workman's compensation attorney can be particularly useful to you if you have a serious or permanent injury, have an uncooperative employer, or if your employer is underinsured and uninsured. In these cases there are specific procedures that must be followed in Washington to ensure the best possible result, procedures with which an experienced work compensation lawyer will have expertise. In addition, sometimes if a defective product or piece of equipment was involved in your injury or a third party was involved, legal assistance from a Washington workers' comp attorney, is required to structure a separate lawsuit.
Illnesses and Injuries Covered Under Washington Workers' Compensation Law
Accidental Physical Injuries
- Workplace accidents that cause you injury are covered by Washington workers' comp law.
- The following injuries may not be covered by Washington State workman's compensation laws: a worker's self inflicted injuries, injuries that occur when the worker is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs at the worksite, or performing his regular job duties.
- Diseases that result from conditions at your workplace, such as toxic chemical exposure that causes dermatitis, asbestosis, or carpel tunnel syndrome.
- Workers' comp benefits may be paid to dependents of workers who died from their work-related injuries or sicknesses.
The Washington Worker's Comp Claims Process
- Notify Your Boss
- Inform your employer that you were injured on the job. It is crucial that your boss be advised of your injury if you want to ensure that you will not lose your eligibility for work compensation benefits or that your benefits will not be delayed.
- Get Medical Help Promptly
- File a claim with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries: You and your doctor should complete and file an Accident Report. But, if your employer is self-insured, you should file your claim directly through your employer. The claim must be filed within 1 year of the accident that causes your injury, or within two years of a doctor's diagnosis of an occupational disease. Filing after these dates may mean a loss of medical benefits, permanent disability benefits, and/or lost wage benefits.
- Seek advice from a Washington State Workman's Compensation Attorney if your claim has been contested, denied, or if you need extra aid with your claim.
Benefits Received in Washington Under the Workers' Compensation Program
Washington State provides several kinds of work compensation benefits:
- Medical Treatment: The Washington State Bureau of Labor and Industry or your self-insured employer will pay your medical bills (hospital, physician, treatment, etc.) directly to your provider if your workman's compensation claim is approved.
- Wage Reimbursement: Reimbursement for lost wages due to travel time to and from doctors' appointments and time spent in doctors' appointments may be possible in certain circumstances. Namely, if travel is more than 15 miles one way from your home and if there is not a similar healthcare provider closer, you may be eligible for lost wage payments.
- Funeral: $3,000 in reasonable funeral and burial expenses.
- Death: If a worker dies of his workplace injury, his spouse and children or other dependents may be entitled to death benefits.
- Vocational Rehabilitation: Vocational counselors can help you with job modifications and with the process of rehabilitation and returning to work after your injury.
- Income Benefits: The following benefits are available to replace an injured or ill employee's lost wages:
- Temporary Total Disability Benefits (TTD for short): When a worker is unable to perform his job functions because he is injured.
- Amount: Based on a percentage of your pre-injury average weekly wage, which is dependent on your marital status and whether you have kids.
- Temporary Partial Disability Benefits (TPD for short): An employee can do some work at a lower wage rate, but his injury or illness prevents him from performing his old job functions.
- Amount: Eighty percent of the difference between the employee's current average weekly wage and his weekly wage prior to the accident or illness.
- Permanent Total Disability Benefits (PTD for short): Your injury is so severe that you cannot work. You must be certified totally disabled in order to qualify for PTD. In addition, if you lose your vision, both arms, both legs, or an arm and a leg, even if you can still work, you are eligible for PTD benefits.
- Permanent Partial Disability Benefits (PPD for short): When an ill or injured worker can no longer medically improve because his improvement has reached its maximum. The worker still has the ability to do some work, but not his old job, because he is permanently affected by his injury.
- Amount: The amount of a Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) award will depend on your PPD rating as determined by a doctor.
Why Hire A Washington Workers' Comp Lawyer ?
A denial of your workers' compensation claim can have a significant effect on your future livelihood. As such, it is recommended that you get a Washington State Work Compensation attorney, especially if your injury is hard to prove and you are unfamiliar with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. A workman's comp lawyer can argue your case, help you comprehend the issues involved in your case, consider the available alternatives for compensation, and recommend the steps you should take to ensure the best outcome in your case.
Washington State Revised Code
In Washington State, provisions pertaining to Workers' Compensation can be found in the Industrial Insurance section of the Revised Code of Washington:
- Employers Subject To Workers' Compensation
- Industrial Insurance, Tit. 51, Chp.12.
- Covered Employees
- Industrial Insurance, Tit. 51, Chp.12.
- Industrial Insurance, Tit 51, Chp.32, 36.
- Claims Procedure
- Industrial Insurance, Tit. 51, Chp.28.