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Washington State Workers' Compensation Lawsuit Information
By Jane Mundy
Workers' Compensation is insurance coverage purchased by the employer/business that provides workers' benefits for job-related employee injuries. Washington law requires all employers to purchase Washington workers' compensation coverage (with a few exceptions). Each state has a different workers compensation program laws, with benefits covering medical expenses, prescription medication, death benefits, lost wages and rehabilitation services. Washington bases workers’ compensation benefits on hours worked rather than payroll and employers can require workers to pay a portion of workers’ compensation insurance premiums. Some workers may have unreasonably been denied their Washington workers' compensation benefits or may find they have long waits for their benefits to kick in. In such cases, workers’ compensation lawsuits can be filed to ensure the employee's rights are protected.
Workers’ compensation claims are diverse, from industrial injuries to occupational diseases. Washington State pays the ninth highest costs in medical expenses and is the highest in monetary award in the US. But it isn’t the best state for an injured worker to receive Workers Compensation benefits due to many restrictive laws. For instance, you cannot see your own doctor. Instead a workers’ compensation physician will be assigned to diagnose your injury or illness. And these doctors typically have a mandate—to get you back to work as soon as possible. It is important to have an experienced Washington workers’ comp attorney advising and protecting you against unfair or questionable practices. Further, if the insurance company proves that you can work at any job, even at a reduced salary, you may be forced to return to work and put your health at risk.
Washington Workers’ Compensation
The Washington State Workers’ Compensation laws are no fault, which means you have the right to benefits even if you are at fault for the injury. Besides deliberately caused injuries, the law generally prohibits any lawsuit against your employer or co-worker. You can also sue someone else for causing injury on the job. A third-party action can be brought against the negligent person or company, such as an injury by defective products or machinery manufactured by a company other than your employer.
Any lawsuit needs to be brought within the time provided by law, and the sooner you file the claim the better, ideally right after your doctor has advised in writing that you should file a claim. There are two statutes: You have one year to file an injury claim. An occupational disease claim must be filed within two years of manifestation of the disease, or when your doctor advises you in writing that your work produced your symptomatic physical condition. If you are filing a claim for hearing loss, which is classified as an occupational disease, it must be filed within two years of last exposure to work-related noise. After that two-year deadline, you will only be entitled to medical treatment and hearing aids, and no permanent partial disability award.
Washington Workers' Compensation Claim: Statute of Limitations
If your claim has been denied by the Department of Labor and Industries, you have 60 days to file an appeal. If your case has been denied it is important to consult an experienced Washington State industrial injury and disability appeals attorney as soon as possible. If your appeal is turned down, you can still take your case to the Pierce County or King County Superior Court. The Superior Court, however, only considers evidence provided during the initial appeal. This is why you should have an attorney help construct a strong initial appeal before the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals.
Washington Workers' Compensation Benefit Denials
Washington State law now allows certain injured workers, their employers, and L&I (short for Washington State Department of Labor & Industries) to permanently settle the non-medical portion of a claim in exchange for an agreed payment plan--a structured settlement. This is when you and L&I agree to a sum of money that you would receive in a series of fixed, cash payments, over a relatively short period of time. As well, Washington limits the age at which workers might agree to a structured settlement for a workers’ compensation permanent disability claim: a recent bill allows some structured settlements for workers over 40 years old.
Washington Workers' Compensation Settlements
In 2013, the law firm Calbom & Schwab appealed that a claimant’s condition required further treatment for a degenerative hip condition which required surgery/replacement. As well, L&I accepted responsibility for depression caused by her disability, which resulted in several years of benefits. Their client was awarded $103,217.00.
The law firm also reversed the L&I rejection with the Board of Appeals. “Claimant had 30 years as a Game Management agent and officer. The worker used powerboats with outboard motors and ATVs regularly and had to shoot firearms for annual certification. DLI’s expert hearing doctor said that there was not enough noise to be considered “harmful”. We proved that the shape of the worker’s hearing loss, as documented on his objective hearing tests, was consistent with noise induced loss, and we showed that serial testing done, while still working for the Game Department, showed deterioration.”
Washington Workers' Compensation Legal HelpIf you or a loved one has suffered a loss as a result of Denied Workers Compensation, please click the link below and your complaint will be sent to a lawyer who may evaluate your Washington Workers Compensation claim at no cost or obligation.
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