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How to File a Worker’s Compensation Claim

October 31, 2022

If you’ve been hurt on the job, you’re probably worried about your livelihood and how you’re going to take care of yourself and your family. Unfortunately, these concerns also come at a time when you need to focus on your injury, medical care, and recovery. As alarming as an injury might be when it leaves you unable to work at your normal capacity —or unable to work at all—in Washington, you’re entitled to compensation for your medical expenses and lost wages through a worker’s compensation claim.

The state requires every employer to carry workers’ compensation for their employees. In Washington, employers must purchase workers’ compensation insurance from a state fund and not through private insurers. You pay into this system and you’re entitled to draw from it when you’ve been injured. If you have questions about your legal right to compensation after suffering an injury on the job, speak with an experienced Seattle workers’ compensation lawyer.

How to File a Worker’s Compensation Claim

I’ve Been Injured at Work, What Do I Do Now?

First, seek medical treatment immediately after sustaining an injury. Not only is this critical for your emergency treatment, long-term health, and injury recovery, but it’s also necessary for filing a workers’ compensation claim with the required evidence of your injury. If you wait, your claim could be denied. After you’ve been evaluated and treated for your injury, the following steps put you on the path to getting your medical treatment paid for and 75% to 80% of your pay depending on the degree of impairment you’ve suffered:

  • Report your injury and your impending claim to your employer in writing, either directly or through your manager or supervisor. Your employer must forward the notice to the Labor and Industries (L&I) system.
  • File your L&I Worker’s Compensation Claim as soon as possible. While you have a one-year statute of limitations if your injury isn’t immediately symptomatic, it’s best to file as soon as the accident occurs. Contact a skilled Washington labor attorney to help you prepare your claim and then file it for the fastest results. For an occupational illness, you have a 2-year statute of limitations to file.
  • Washington’s Labor and Industries department will evaluate your claim to make sure you’re eligible. An injury attorney can help you avoid mistakes in your filing that could impact your eligibility.
  • Follow up on your claim by responding to any further requests for information in a timely manner and following your doctor’s recommendations for treatment with full documentation of your treatment plan.
  • If L&I declines your claim, ask your attorney about filing an appeal.
  • Finally, resume work in any capacity you are able. Washington’s L&I department offers employers incentives to return injured employees to work within lightened workloads or different duties whenever possible. They also offer vocational training for alternative positions.

Can I Choose My Own Doctor?

Under the Washington State code, injured employees may choose their preferred providers for medical care. Choose your doctor carefully, since they are key to ensuring you receive the compensation you need for as long as they need. Make sure you verify that the doctor of your choice accepts L&I patients.

Once you have your workers’ compensation processed, approved, and activated, you’ll be able to focus on your long-term recovery without worrying about how you’ll support yourself and your loved ones.

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