Hurt on the Job – How Do I Get Workers Compensation in WA State?
- See a doctor – this is the first step to filing a claim
- File the L&I claim – and do this within one year for an injury or two years for an occupational disease.
- Follow Up On Your Claim – Take care of claim problems as they arise. You can do this. Get help if you need it from an experienced L&I attorney.
- Secure time loss money – these are payments to you for lost wages while you can’t work
- Follow Doctor’s Orders – Continue your medical care and get well.
- Resume Work – Return to work or get vocational training, depending on the nature of your injury and your employability .
- Close your L&I claim – Work with the WA Dept. of Labor & Industries or your lawyer to favorably settle your claim and get paid a fair amount of settlement money.
How Do I File an L&I Claim in Washington State?
There are 3 ways to file a State Fund claim for L&I:
- The best way to file a claim is to see a doctor and in their office, you and they together will fill out the Report of Accident (ROA) form. The doctor should have the forms and they should file this paperwork. The important part is to see a doctor who listens, cares, and wants to help you with your L&I claim.
- File Online via L&I’s FileFast tool.
- File a claim by phone: 877-561-3453 (FILE).
Please note you cannot file a claim at the nearest L&I office. Local offices are closed to the public and are not allowing in-person claim filings.
How do I file a claim with a Self Insured Employer?
If your employer is self insured you will need to get a Self-Insured Accident Report (SIF-2) form from human resources and take it to the doctor. Or the doctor can get and file the form online: Provider’s Initial Report (PIR) (F207-028-000). You can still get workers compensation and have an L&I claim even when you have a self-insured employer. Here are some instructions from self insurance for accident reporting.
What is the Statute of Limitations?
The Statute of Limitations (SOL) is a time deadline by which you must file a report of injury to start your L&I claim. This is a very important deadline.
For an injury, the SOL is one year. You must file your claim within one year of your injury or you will lose your right to do so. RCW 51.28.050
For an occupational disease the SOL is two years, possibly longer. File your claim within two years of the manifestation of the disease, and you are timely. If you wait longer you may still have time. See Statute of Limitations (L&I)
L&I claims have additional deadlines. Pay attention to all orders from L&I and appeal or protest as appropriate to protect your rights
You Have a Choice of Doctors
- Under RCW 51.36.010 the worker is entitled to free choice of treating provider. This is important! You do not have to use the doctor or work clinic your employer recommends.
- Understand this: the doctor who files your claim if he or she continues to treat you will be your attending physician. The attending physician has a lot of say about how much help you are going to get while you are injured. Pick your own doctor carefully. Pick the wrong doctor and you will be sorry.
- Before you get started ask the doctor’s office if they take L&I claims and treat L&I patients. Some don’t. If they don’t, then find another doctor. Choice of Physician: The right doctor will have L&I forms in his office.
Be Careful About Some Doctor’s Offices
- See the wrong doctor and he or she will ruin your claim.
- You can change doctors after you file paperwork, however the best plan is to start with a good doctor.
How Do I Win My L&I Case?
Pay attention to L&I orders and other claim information. Take appropriate action. Protest or appeal incorrect decisions. Workers compensation is your right, however you will need to be smart and fight for your rights to get a good result.
Get professional advice from an L&I lawyer. The Sharpe Law Firm offers a free consultation. We’ll tell you what you can do, and give you ideas about how to do it.
Do I Have to Report My Injury to My Employer?
It’s a good idea to report your injury. However there is no Washington State law for the injured worker that requires immediate reporting of an injury accident. The report of the accident you file for your L&I claim will inform your employer.
However, many employers have an in house accident policy which they want you to follow. To keep in good shape with your employer, you may want to follow their policy.
How Much Do I Get Paid on L&I?
That question is complex. It depends on a number of factors. The important thing to know is that once L&I issues an order setting your time loss rate or awarding you permanent partial disability you must formally and timely disagree with that order if it is not correct, otherwise you’re locked into the ordered payment amount. Make sure you know and understand your right to benefits.
- L&I Benefit Summary – A list of L&I benefits
- Time Loss – Wage replacement while you are off work
- Permanent Partial Disability – Settlement money at claim closure
- L&I Pension – L&I lifetime payments if you will never again work
- Loss of Earnings Power (LEP) – If you have a reduction in your earnings
- Travel Expense Reimbursement – Money for travel if you meet the requirements
- How to Disagree with an L&I Decision – When L&I makes a wrong decision you should disagree with those decisions.
Getting Healthy and Back to Work
- Medical Treatment – For Job related injuries and occupational diseases
- Choice of Physician – You have the right to choose your own doctor
- Independent Medical Exams – Be careful of these, know your rights and how to handle IME’s
- Vocational Training – May be available to you if you need training to become employable
- Pre Job Accommodations – To help you get a job
- Job Modification – To help you perform a job
L&I Claim Basics
Not all L&I claims are the same. The links below will help.
- L&I Claims are Either an Injury or an Occupational Disease
- Things You Need to Know
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- Third Party Claims
- L&I Settlement
- Reopen Your Claim
My L&I Claim Has a Problem
Welcome to the club. Many L&I claims have problems. To solve L&I problems learn the law and be smart about the decisions you make.
- Be clear about your claim problem(s)
- Read about the laws and regulations that control those problems
- Learn about your rights
- Make smart decisions and take action likely to solve the problem
- Look over this page carefully and find links to the information that will help your L&I claim. If you don’t understand what to do, call us for help.
Obligations of Injured Workers
The rights of an injured worker are subject to the performance of certain obligations. This means you can lose your rights if you don’t do certain things. At a minimum:
- You must report your accident to your employer and your doctor.
- You must file an accident report with L&I or the self-insuring employer within one year of a job injury, or within two years of written notice of an occupational disease. The sooner you file, the better. Your doctor should have these forms.
- You must always tell the truth when claiming benefits. Giving false information is a crime.
- You must cooperate with your doctor, employer, vocational consultant, and claims manager.
- You must comply with certain time deadlines. Pay attention to all paperwork that is sent to you, especially anything titled ORDER AND NOTICE. If you change your address, let L&I or the self-insurer know immediately.
- If you miss a deadline, YOU COULD LOSE YOUR RIGHTS. If you don’t know what to do, get help before too much time passes and you lose your rights.
Watch Out For This
L&I claims are complex. Read this for ideas on what to do and how to avoid a mistake.
- Things You Need to Know
- Eleven Things That Can Ruin Your Claim
- Claim Suppression of L&I / Workers’ Compensation Claims
- Statute of Limitations
- Self Insured Claims
- Independent Medical Examinations – (IME)
What if I Need Legal Help?
- L&I Attorney You might want one
- Top 13 Things to Think About before Hiring a Lawyer
- L&I Attorney Fees Contingency fee agreement and more