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L&I Basics

L&I Basics

Let us share our knowledge and information about the L&I basics.

What is L&I

L&I is short for the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. It is a quasi insurance system covering persons hurt on the job. Benefits include medical care, time loss compensation, permanent partial disability, vocational rehab, pensions, and other payments. L&I manages state fund cases and presides over self insured cases.

Who is covered by L&I?

Most workers are covered by L&I Insurance. You may have L&I insurance even if you think you don’t. Coverage is mandatory, and your employer is required to pay for it, either before or after you are injured.

  • Most workers are covered by L&I in Washington State. You may have L&I insurance even if your employer says you do not.
    Most employers don’t like L&I claims. Some will tell you that you do not have L&I coverage to discourage you from filing a claim. Don’t believe an employer who is not telling the truth.
  • You’re covered even if you work “under the table.”
    Common sense seems to say that if you work under the table, you have no L&I coverage. Common sense is wrong. If you’re a worker, you are covered, even if you work “under the table.”
  • You’re covered, even if you are undocumented and not a citizen.
  • If you are a worker, you are covered, with some exceptions.
  • There are some exceptions to mandatory L&I insurance coverage listed in  RCW 51.12.020. The exceptions are: 
    (1) Any person employed as a domestic servant in a private home by an employer who has less than two employees regularly employed forty or more hours a week in such employment.
    (2) Any person employed to do gardening, maintenance, or repair, in or about the private home of the employer. For the purposes of this subsection, “maintenance” means the work of keeping in proper condition, “repair” means to restore to sound condition after damage, and “private home” means a person’s place of residence.
    (3) A person whose employment is not in the course of the trade, business, or profession of his or her employer and is not in or about the private home of the employer.
    (4) Any person performing services in return for aid or sustenance only, received from any religious or charitable organization.
    (5) Sole proprietors or partners.
    (6) Any child under eighteen years of age employed by his or her parent or parents in agricultural activities on the family farm.
    (7) Jockeys while participating in or preparing horses for race meets licensed by the Washington horse racing commission pursuant to chapter 67.16 RCW.
    (8)(a) Except as otherwise provided in (b) of this subsection, any bona fide officer of a corporation voluntarily elected or voluntarily appointed in accordance with the articles of incorporation or bylaws of the corporation, who at all times during the period involved is also a bona fide director, and who is also a shareholder of the corporation. Only such officers who exercise substantial control in the daily management of the corporation and whose primary responsibilities do not include the performance of manual labor are included within this subsection…..

    (9) Services rendered by a musician or entertainer under a contract with a purchaser of the services, for a specific engagement or engagements when such musician or entertainer performs no other duties for the purchaser and is not regularly and continuously employed by the purchaser. A purchaser does not include the leader of a group or recognized entity who employs other than on a casual basis musicians or entertainers.
    (10) Services performed by a newspaper vendor, carrier, or delivery person selling or distributing newspapers on the street, to offices, to businesses, or from house to house and any freelance news correspondent or “stringer” who, using his or her own equipment, chooses to submit material for publication for free or a fee when such material is published.
    (11) Services performed by an insurance producer, as defined in RCW 48.17.010, or a surplus line broker licensed under chapter 48.15RCW.
    (12) Services performed by a booth renter. However, a person exempted under this subsection may elect coverage under RCW51.32.030.
    (13) Members of a limited liability company, if either:
    (a) Management of the company is vested in its members, and the members for whom exemption is sought would qualify for exemption under subsection (5) of this section were the company a sole proprietorship or partnership; or
    (b) Management of the company is vested in one or more managers, and the members for whom the exemption is sought are managers who would qualify for exemption under subsection (8) of this section were the company a corporation.
    (14) A driver providing commercial transportation services as defined in RCW 48.177.005. The driver may elect coverage in the manner provided by RCW 51.32.030.
    (15) For hire vehicle operators under chapter 46.72 RCW who own or lease the for hire vehicle, chauffeurs under chapter 46.72A RCW who own or lease the limousine, and operators of taxicabs under chapter 81.72 RCW who own or lease the taxicab. An owner or lessee may elect coverage in the manner provided by RCW 51.32.030.

Types of Workers Compensation Coverage

Types of L&I Insurance

State Fund – The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) state fund handles most workers compensation in Washington, state fund cases handled by claims managers who work for L&I. These L&I claims managers are there to move your claim along. They may or may not be helpful.  

Self Insurance – Self insurers, often large employers, manage their own L&I claims. These claims are handled by employees or agents of the employer. Self insured claims managers are not there to help you. They will only help if they have no other choice.

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