Work status does not change an employee’s or a former employee’s ability to file a workers’ compensation claim.
You can be gainfully employed or, laid off, or fired and out of work and still file a claim. You can be still working for the same employer or you can move on to a different employer and still file a claim. It makes no difference.
What matters is that you do file the claim, and you file it timely, before the statute of limitations runs. There are some differences between the time limitations for injury and occupational disease filing.
You can be laid off even while you have an open L&I claim. An employer can lay you off or fire you for any good reason, or no reason at all.
You cannot be legally laid off or fired because you filed a L&I claim or because you have a disability.
If you have medical restrictions and have not been doing your full duty job when you are laid off, you may be eligible for workers compensation wage loss benefits in your L&I claim.
A lay off should not affect the time loss or medical treatment aspects of your L&I claim.
A lay off and a firing are similar but different concept.
Being fired for cause often implies poor performance or a failure to meet the employers expectations. Being fired for cause affects employment security (unemployment) benefits and L&I time loss benefits.
Being fired for no reason is still a firing. It is legal in Washington except in limited situations such as where the worker has a union or contract protections. Being fired for no reason does not negatively affect employment securities or L&I time loss benefits.
Being laid off is a reduction in work force, usually based on the employer’s business considerations. Being laid off does not affect employment security and L&I benefits.
Being fired for an impermissible reason is a problem for the employer. This is discrimination. Discrimination is against the law.