Being injured at work or developing an occupational-related disease can be scary. Pain, doctor’s visits, and healing are overwhelming enough, but also trying to file for workers compensation can feel intimidating. Fortunately, Washington provides a simple and straightforward workers comp process. Follow these steps to ensure that your rights are protected.
1. Seek First Aid
Immediately after your injury, seek first aid. All employers in the state of Washington are required to make first aid kits available. Even minor first aid treatment can be enough to diminish the chances of a small injury developing into something more severe.
2. Tell Your Employer
As soon as possible, let your employer know what happened. File an incident report that describes the situation in which you were injured, what happened to you, and what steps you and others took immediately following your injury. Keep a copy of the report.
3. Check Your Workers Comp Eligibility
In general, Washington workers comp covers workers who sustained an injury or illness as a direct result of their employment. However, not everyone is covered. For example, musicians hired sporadically to provide entertainment, lone domestic workers, and hairdressers who lease space in a salon may not be covered. Speak with L&I (the Department of Labor and Industries) if you have any doubts about your eligibility.
The conditions under which your injury occurred also matter. Washington has no-fault laws, meaning that it does not matter whether you, your employer, or another person caused the injury. However, intentionally self-inflicted wounds are excluded. In addition, you are not covered during your regular commute or for injuries that occurred outside of work hours. However, you are likely covered for incidents that took place during a business trip, and workplace injuries that exacerbated a preexisting condition.
4. See a Doctor
It is very important that you see a doctor right away. The doctor must be part of the L&I network, and must file an initial report. Let the doctor know whether your employer is self-insured or covered by the state, as this will affect which type of report is filled out and where it is sent. If you need ongoing or follow-up care, be sure to select physicians from the L&I network.
5. Hire an Attorney
Although an attorney is not required for a workers compensation case, it is highly recommended. Some employers dispute workers comp cases. Depending on your age and the extent of your injury, you might be offered a settlement. A skilled workers comp attorney will help you through the process, ensuring that you make the best decisions for your individual needs. Your attorney will also file paperwork as needed, and move your case through the appeals process if required.
6. File a Claim
You must file a claim within one year of being injured on the job, or within two years of your initial diagnosis with a work-related illness. Your claim must be filed with L&I if your employer has state coverage, or directly with your employer if self-insured. If you need time off work or a modification of your duties, make sure that in addition to the initial report, your doctor also files an Activity Prescription Form.
7. Follow Up
If all goes well, you should receive your first benefits payment within 14 days. However, many claims are not that simple. Your attorney will follow up with L&I or your employer as needed, and keep you apprised of how your case is progressing. If your claim is denied, you and your attorney can begin the appeals process. If you are offered a settlement, your attorney will review the offer with you to determine if it is in your best interest to accept.
A workplace injury or illness can be scary, and the workers compensation process can feel intimidating. However, breaking it down into a series of smaller tasks can help ease the stress. In addition, hiring a skilled workers comp attorney gives you the peace of mind that you need to rest and heal.
Bryan Stubbs, Attorney at Law, assists clients throughout the Tacoma, WA area. To protect your rights, speak to us as soon as possible after an injury. For over 50 years, our office has been helping injured workers on workers compensation claims and third party claims. We will fight for your rights and secure the best outcome for your injury claim! BBB A+ Rating.
Contact Bryan Stubbs today at 253-383-5891 to schedule a free initial consultation. If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in an accident at work, call us today.