Workers Compensation

Solutions To Help Get The Recovery You Deserve

When you’ve been injured on the job, you are suddenly thrown into a government bureaucracy affecting your medical treatment and ability to earn a living. Hiring an attorney on a workers compensation claim has many advantages. We know the law and can protect your rights. We will administer the claim for you and make sure you receive all the benefits that you are entitled to. We have extensive experience in administering and litigating workers compensation claims.

Workers Compensation Benefits

  • Medical coverage for all necessary treatment at no cost
  • Bi-weekly time loss benefits for lost wages
  • Loss of earning power benefits if you return to work light duty and are earning less income due to your injury
  • Vocational rehabilitation services
  • Compensation for a permanent partial disability if you are able to return to work
  • A lifetime disability pension if you are permanently unable to return to gainful employment

Types of Claims

There are two types of workers compensation claims. There are “industrial injury” claims, which require a specific and sudden event occurring in the course of employment that causes an injury. The other type of claim is called an “occupational disease” claim, resulting from repetitive overuse-type activities that occur over time due to distinctive conditions of your employment. We take a closer look at each type of workers compensation claim below.

Industrial Injury Claims
This type of claim may entitle you to workers compensation benefits if it can be proved you suffered a sudden and tangible event that produced an injury while on the job. An injury event may be something as simple as tripping, slipping or falling down. An event may have occurred if an object struck you or if you sustained an injury while using equipment. Even a car accident could count as an event, if it resulted from driving during the course of employment.

If you were injured in this way while working, you should tell your employer and see a doctor immediately. Time-loss compensation for industrial industry claims is typically retroactive to the date of the injury for a percentage of the gross amount you were making on that date, provided you are unable to work due to your injury. You have one year from the date of your injury to make sure a claim has been filed with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

Occupational Disease Claims
This less common type of a workers compensation claim applies to a health condition that developed naturally out of distinctive conditions of your employment. Repetitive motion strains such as carpal tunnel or tennis elbow are common occupational disease claims, as are some respiratory conditions caused by dust, smoke or chemicals.

Because these conditions are not tied directly to a specific event, they can be a little more difficult to litigate than an injury claim. With occupational disease claims, your claim must be filed within two years from the time your doctor tells you your condition is due to your work. If time-loss compensation is awarded for an occupational disease claim, you will receive the same percentage of income you would receive for an injury claim, but in this case it would typically be retroactive to the date you first sought medical treatment for the health condition (known as the date of manifestation), so long as the occupational disease prevented you from working since that date.

The Basics - What You Should Know

  1. If you get injured at work, you should report it to your employer and seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
  2. You can go to any doctor you choose, so long as the doctor accepts L&I claims. Often times employers urge workers to go to doctors that they select. Going to a doctor recommended by your employer is seldom a good idea. Find your own doctor who will support you through the claim process. If you need help finding a doctor, a workers compensation lawyer could provide you with some names. Be sure your doctor files an L&I claim for you.
  3. Once your claim is allowed, you will be entitled to receive the medical treatment being recommended by your doctor at no charge.
  4. If you are unable to work for more than three days, you will be entitled to time loss compensation. Make sure L&I is paying you the correct amount in your time loss benefits. Mistakes are often made in calculating your time loss amount. Your time loss amount is based on your gross monthly earnings from all employment at the time of your injury in addition to your marital status and number of dependents. If you are single, you are entitled to 60% of your gross monthly wages in time loss benefits. If you are married the percentage is 65%, and you get 2% for each child up to the maximum of five children.
  5. Your employer may offer you light duty work before you have completed your medical treatment. They have the legal right to offer you a light duty job, but only after your doctor has reviewed a written job description of the position and has signed it certifying that you can physically perform the job. If your employer makes you a written job offer approved by your doctor, L&I can terminate your time loss benefits if you turn the job down. Moreover, if your employer terminates you for cause while working light duty, your time loss benefits will not be reinstated unless your physical condition deteriorates to the point where your doctor says you could no longer perform the light duty job.
  6. L&I often will send injured workers to “independent” medical examinations (IME). Many, if not most, IME reports do not favor injured workers. There are a limited number of doctors who perform these exams, and most are retired doctors that no longer treat patients. It would be wise to consult with an attorney prior to attending an IME.
  7. Watch for any orders or decisions issued by L&I that have a deadline in which you can dispute the decision. Most orders from L&I only allow you 60 days to dispute a decision. Failure to dispute the decision within that time frame will result in the order becoming final and binding. Some vocational determinations issued by L&I only allow a 15 day period in which to dispute the decision.

If for any reason you do not believe you are receiving the benefits to which you are entitled, if L&I or your employer are causing problems for your claim, or if L&I has issued an order or decision that you disagree with, you should contact Wallace & Whitford Law, PLLC for a free consultation and case evaluation.

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