It’s fulfilling when you find a career that allows you to care for your family and keep your life running smoothly. If you’re injured on the job and can’t work, it can derail everything. Fortunately, Washington requires that employers pay your expenses when you’re hurt in the workplace. They must have mandatory Workers’ Compensation insurance to pay for your medical bills, medications, lost income, and other costs. The system is beneficial for injured employees as it pays injury-related expenses without proving fault. To gain access to comp benefits you must follow the rules and time-sensitive guidelines. Failure to comply could jeopardize your benefits or force you to return to work before you’re fully healed. At Boohoff Law, our Seattle workers’ compensation attorneys have handled all aspects of Washington Workers’ Compensation claims.
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The Workers’ Compensation system in Washington is similar to those in other states, with one exception. Washington is one of only a handful of US jurisdictions where the government holds a monopoly on compensation insurance. Only Washington, North Dakota, Wyoming, Ohio, and the US territories, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands have government-run Workers’ Compensation plans. Everywhere else in the United States, multiple insurance carriers compete to sell compensation policies in an open insurance market.
That matters because in the state’s workers’ compensation system one entity controls the insurance and claim process from beginning to end. The system has inherent inequities and shortcomings. Independent Medical Examiners traditionally favor the employer and the Department of Labor and Industry. Employers misclassify employees, making them ineligible for coverage. Self-insured employers control access to benefits.
When a case moves beyond a simple temporary medical condition, it becomes complicated and difficult to manage. One-third of the employers in Washington self-insure for workers’ compensation benefits. If they meet the state’s financial requirements, they handle their own claims, pay the same benefits, and follow the same claim guidelines.
At Boohoff Law, we understand that the Workers’ Compensation system doesn’t always function the way it should. That’s why we’ve worked hard to help injured workers get the benefits they deserved. We’ve learned the system’s subtle issues and tedious requirements. We’ve helped our injured clients overcome the problems that prevented them from qualifying for Permanent Partial Disabilities, Pensions, or Structured Settlements.
We’ve pursued every lead to recover damages from third-party defendants. Workers’ Compensation claims don’t always have complex issues but sometimes the system works against you. When your claim stalls or L&I denies you the benefits to which you’re entitled, you need a legal advocate working to move your claim forward. Our lawyers have helped our clients get the benefits they deserved by relying on our experience and dedication.
Tatiana Boohoff has dedicated Boohoff law to injury cases only. Our lawyers have worked exclusively to recover damages for injured clients. We understand that workers ‘compensation is structured differently from other indemnification systems. Those differences have challenged us to help our clients get and keep the benefits they needed to support their families.
We’re proud of the accomplishments we’ve made on behalf of our injured clients. We keep our clients’ case details private but we invite you to view their comments on our Client Testimonials page.
When you’re injured on the job, you have a lot at stake. You rely on the system to pay your bills, wage losses, and other expenses. Unfortunately, the process doesn’t always work out that way it should. Statistics from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries show that 124,081 workers’ compensation claims were “allowed” during the state’s 2018 fiscal year. 29,749 of these allowed cases were handled by self-insured entities. An additional 28,324 injured employees experienced a different outcome.
When the Department of L&I or a self-insured entity refuses to pay a claim, the injured employee has the right to have the claim reconsidered. An employee, his doctor, or his employer may protest an L&I decision within 60 days. If they’re protesting rejected vocational benefits, they have 15 days. Any of the interested parties may file the protest online or by mail. They may also file an appeal directly with the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals.
Thousands of workplace injuries occur in Washington each year. They happen in offices, in factories, and in outdoor work environments. Employees in all occupations sustain workplace injuries and occupational diseases. Many occur as a result of conditions cited in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration top-10 list of standards violations. While employees can recover from some injuries, others cause a lifetime of problems and disabilities. When L&I tracks injuries, they list categories of incidents, body parts involved, and injury descriptions. Below are some of the most frequent injuries from claims submitted across all industries.
In 1911, the Workers’ Compensation Act changed the idea of fault for workplace injuries. The Act, which is currently codified under Title 51 RCW, created Washington’s Industrial Insurance system. Even if an employer negligently contributes to the conditions which cause an employee’s injuries, comp benefits are the primary resource for medical bills, lost wages, and related expenses.
When considering the role an employer may have played in injuring an employee, fault is usually irrelevant. Employees turn their claims into the Department of Labor and Industries. If their employer is self-insured, they deal directly with their employer’s claims administrator or contracted representative. Workers’ Compensation coverage is often seen as the only resource for payment of costs due to workplace injuries, but there are a few exceptions.
When an employer causes an intentional injury, an employee may have a right to pursue damages based on provisions outlined in RCW §51.24.020. The injured employee may collect damages above those paid out by Workers’ Compensation.
If someone other than an employer caused or contributes to a workplace injury the employee may collect additional damages through a third party claim. This may be an option under these and other circumstances.
When you’re injured or sustain an occupational disease on the job, your employer must have coverage in place to reimburse you for the expenses you incur. Payment of these benefits is contingent upon the claim being “accepted:”
If your attorney makes a damage claim against a negligent third party, you may also recover general damages. General damages pay for subjective issues related to personal and lifestyle changes caused by your accident.
Sometimes an employer’s drive to avoid claim payments is tied to a desire to reduce business expenses. Workers compensation claim avoidance gives them an opportunity to do that. As the coverage is mandatory, it’s an unavoidable expense but business who improve their loss experience can reduce their premiums. When a company has a retrospective rating plan L&I Auditors review their claim experience every 12 months. If they’ve lowered their claim costs, they receive a premium refund and a lower rate. As workers’ compensation rates are based on employee work hours and paid claims, reducing claims helps employers reduce costs. An employer can reduce their worker’s compensation costs in several ways.
Third parties use the same defenses negligent entities and insurance companies use when trying to avoid claim settlements.
At Boohoff Law, our attorneys have handled all aspects of Washington Workers’ Compensation claims. We’ve investigated our clients’ accidents and reviewed the evidence early during the life of each case. Thorough preparation has allowed us to handle appeals and successfully manage creative third-party defenses.
While Washington ranks as one of the safer states in the country for workplace fatalities, 84 fatal work accidents still took place here in one recent year. One year later, more than 28,000 workplace injuries took place in Washington. These numbers make it clear that even a relatively safe state leaves employees susceptible to injury or death on the job. Read on to understand more about how to secure recovery after being injured at work. For information about your legal options, contact Boohoff Law today.
Workers’ compensation is a state-run system that ensures that employees secure a recovery for medical expenses and temporary or partial disability suffered while at work. Employees are not required to file a lawsuit or prove that the employer acted negligently. To recover, the employee is only required to show that the injury occurred at work. You must, however, follow many administrative steps. Failure to follow the process or advocate for your recovery can result in an unfair outcome. The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) administers the workers’ compensation program in Washington. Workers’ compensation is also called industrial insurance and state laws govern it.
All employees injured while at work are eligible for recovery through workers’ compensation insurance. The only individuals exempt from the workers’ compensation laws are independent contractors. The state has outlined a multi-factor test to determine if someone is an independent contractor:
Additionally, for construction, the individual is property registered as a contractor or has a valid electrical contractor license. An attorney would work with you to evaluate your status as an employee or independent contractor at the time of the accident. Contact Boohoff Law today to get started.
Certain injuries are more common at work. Based on data compiled by L&I, the following injury causes are the most common in Washington:
The most common injuries resulting from workplace accidents are:
Your first priority is to secure any immediately necessary medical attention. Once you receive medical care, notify your employer of the injury. After notifying your employer, complete an accident report form. L&I must receive this form within one year of your injury date to file a claim. To complete the form, you need the following information:
If your medical treatment is ongoing, the doctor is required to provide periodic updates to L&I. If your employer is self-insured, you must follow different administrative steps for recovery. Your lawyer could help you navigate the process.
Workers’ compensation provides the following benefits:
Your lawyer can help you ensure that your disability is appropriately classified and that you receive the benefits you deserve.
An L&I may:
Additionally, even if workers’ compensation approves your claim, you might disagree with the calculation of benefits. If workers’ compensation denies your claim, you have the option to protest the decision or file an appeal. Each of these processes has critical information and timeline requirements that you must follow. If not followed, you risk losing your ability to dispute the claim denial. Work with your lawyer to understand all procedural requirements, present a strong case when preparing your case, or protest or appeal the decision.
You are authorized to return to work once your medical provider determines it is safe to do so. If medical restrictions keep you from immediately returning to your regular job, work with your employer to identify light duty work opportunities. If your injuries leave you completely unable to return to your regular job, there are resources to help you train for a new job.
Depending on the nature of your injury, you might qualify for Preferred Worker status, which enables an employer to receive financial incentives when it hires an individual for a medically approved job. The team at Boohoff Law has helped injured workers pursue the recovery they deserve. Contact the firm today for a free consultation today to see what we can do for you.
If you’ve been injured on the job or sustained an occupational disease you shouldn’t have to fight to get your benefits. At Boohoff Law, our attorneys have worked with many injured employees. We’ve helped them get the benefits to which they were entitled. Let us determine if we can help you. Contact Boohoff Law at (877) 999-9999 or complete our online contact form. We’ll schedule a consultation to review your case.
We’ll assess your case every detail, every angle as we fight for the outcome you deserve. We roll up our sleeves and bring an unrelenting commitment and proven track record to formulate a winning game plan, keeping you clearly informed along the way.