Your right to sue persons or companies is a basic constitutional due process right. However, L&I is a government agency. Since the Industrial Insurance Act and its implementation is the exercise of police power of the state, the Federal and State Constitutions regarding due process do not apply.
The Industrial Insurance Act (workers’ compensation law) contains RCWs and WACs which address improper claims management. The courts have generally taken the view that since the legislature has addressed the penalties applicable in such cases, they will not allow the civil courts to have jurisdiction over these matters. That is to say the Act provides the exclusive remedy for L&I claims, and you cannot go outside the Act and sue the Department for negligence based wrongful claims management in the civil courts. If you file a lawsuit, L&I will file a summary judgement and probably win the case before you are allowed to even put on any evidence.
When can you sue L&I?
You can possibly successfully sue L&I if you can prove the tort of outrage/bad faith. If the Department’s conduct is so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond the bounds of decency, and is regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community, then it may be possible to survive a summary judgment motion on the exclusivity bar. If you do have a bad faith claim against L&I, there is a statute of limitations deadline you must meet, RCW 4.16.080 and RCW 4.16.130. Consult with a lawyer about this. Contact us.