Over the last decade, Washington State has averaged roughly 115,000 job-related injuries each year. Most employers are required to provide assistance to injured workers who are hurt on the job and the state has laws in place that protect the rights of its workers.
Whether you’re an employer or someone who has recently been hurt during the course of their employment, it’s important to understand your rights and responsibilities with respect to workers’ compensation in Washington.
Washington State Workers’ Compensation Laws
Workers’ compensation acts as a form of insurance that provides benefits to workers who are hurt on the job or suffer from an occupational illness. In Washington, most employers are required to provide this coverage through either the Labor & Industries state fund or through self-insurance.
Some of the workers’ compensation benefits that are available by law include:
- Medical benefits
- Wage replacement
- Travel reimbursement
- Personal property damaged in an accident
- Permanent partial disability
- Permanent total disability
- Retraining for a new job if necessary
Statute of Limitations & Caps on Monetary Awards
According to Washington’s workers’ compensation laws, there are some important deadlines to consider if you were hurt on the job or become ill as a result of your work. Specifically, you have just one year from the date of your injury to file a workers’ compensation claim. If you’ve been diagnosed with an occupational disease, you have two years from the date of diagnosis to file a claim.
When it comes to monetary awards, the state does have guidelines for paying out some benefits, but there are no specific caps on monetary awards. A qualified workers’ compensation attorney can provide you with a more thorough analysis of your case.
For Employers: What to Do When Your Employee is Injured
Every employer wants to have a stellar safety record and pay low premiums for their L&I coverage, but they must also follow certain rules. If your employee is injured, Washington State law requires that you take the following actions:
- When an employee reports an injury or you know of one, you must take immediate action.
- If there is a work-related death, loss of an eye, or non-hospitalized amputation, you must notify L&I within 24 hours.
- File an Employer’s Report of Accident to tell your side of the story.
- Remain involved in the claim process for cost control and employee retention.
- Provide employees with light duty opportunities when they are available.
- Learn how to appeal or protest L&I claim decisions when you believe they are unjust.
For Employees: What to Do When Injured on the Job
If you’ve been injured in an accident or have had a physician give you a diagnosis consistent with an occupational disease, you have certain rights and responsibilities. According to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, there are certain things you should do to protect your rights under the law.
First, if you’ve been hurt, seek immediate medical assistance. Many minor injuries can become series if not treated right away, so ask for first aid at your workplace or see a doctor if necessary. Your next step is to file a claim, and the state gives you several options for doing this.
If your claim is accepted, you’ll be entitled to the various benefits we listed earlier. If your claim is denied, you have 60 days to file an appeal with the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals. If you miss this deadline, you’ll forfeit your right to pursue a case.
The ultimate goal after a workplace injury is your full recovery and a return to work. Sometimes this isn’t possible, and you may be entitled to a settlement.
Whether you’re an employer with an injured worker or someone that has been hurt on the job and wants to protect their rights, the law in Washington State is specific when it comes to workers’ compensation. Contact AB Law now to schedule a consultation to discuss your situation and learn more about how we can help.