Washington Workers’ Compensation FAQs

Get answers to common questions that you might have regarding Workers’ Compensation in Washington state. We have compiled a list to help you better understand the Workers’ Compensation process and the initial steps you need to take through the Washington State Department of Labor & Industry. Tim Hamill is an experienced Workers Compensation attorney, serving Yakima, Kennewick, Ellensberg, Walla Walla, and much of Washington state. Call Bothwell & Hamill at 1-888-665-8630 to discuss your particular situation, and how we can help.

If I’m injured at work, what should I do first?

First, tell your employer or supervisor about your accident and/or injury and seek immediate medical attention. Usually, the medical provider will have a Report of Injury or Occupational Disease form for claim filing, but you can get the form from the Department of Labor & Industries or from your self-insured employer’s workers’ compensation representative.

The seriousness of your injury affects whether you will need to contact a workers’ compensation lawyer for additional help or advice.

If you feel your injury requires you to seek legal advice, contact experienced L&I Attorney Tim Hamill of Bothwell & Hamill.

Can I see my own doctor for treatment for my injury?

Yes. Per the Washington State Workers’ Compensation laws, injured workers may choose their own for treatment. The attending medical provider must be licensed in medicine and surgery, osteopathic medicine and surgery, naturopathic, podiatry, dentistry, advanced registered nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant.

Additionally, if medically necessary and approved by the Department of Labor & Industries or self-insured employer, you may seek treatment from more than one doctor, which is called concurrent care. However, you will most likely have one attending physician directing your care.

You may be asked for an “independent” examination from doctors selected by the Department of Labor & Industries or your self-insured employer. These special exams are provided for under the industrial insurance laws of Washington. The location of these exams must be reasonably located near your home.

Check out Finding Approved Doctors for Workers’ Compensation in Washington State for more information.

If I am unable to work after an injury, how long do I have to wait to receive my time loss compensation?

If you are unable to work for more than three days immediately following the injury and remain disabled, the Department of Labor & Industries or the self-insured employer will usually pay time loss within 14 days of the date the accident report is received by the Department or employer.

The report must include certification from your doctor showing you are unable to work as a direct result of an on-the-job injury or exposure. Tim Hamill can help you compile the documents necessary to put together a compelling case. Contact us today for a free evaluation.

What are the time limits for filing a claim?

You must file an industrial injury claim with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries or self-insured employer within one year of the date of injury.

An occupational disease claim must be filed within two years of your doctor advising you in writing that your work produced a symptomatic physical condition. It is best to file the claim as soon as you and your doctor determine that your physical condition is work-related to your current job or a job you performed in the past.

For hearing loss claims, you must file within two years of your last exposure to work-related noise. If the claim is filed after the two-year deadline, you will only be entitled to medical treatment and hearing aids. No permanent partial disability will be awarded for occupation hearing loss after the deadline.

When should I talk to a lawyer about my industrial injury claim?

The Workers’ Compensation laws are complex and constantly changing. A qualified and experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney can assist you with the process of obtaining benefits and make sure you receive all the benefits you are entitled to under the Washington state laws.

If you have questions, never hesitate to contact a qualified Workers’ Compensation attorney at any time during your claim process. A qualified attorney can often answer your question during the initial consultation and can make recommendations for moving forward.

Before pursuing benefits or if you were denied by the Department of Labor & Industries or self-insured employer, contact Bothwell & Hamill to help with your appeal.

What if I can’t go back to my old job or the type of work I used to be able to do?

If your attending physician determines that your on-the-job injuries prevent you from returning to the type of work you performed in the past, you may be entitled to receive vocational services in addition to ongoing time loss compensation.

In that case, a vocational counselor will meet with you, obtain your complete work history and submit written job analyses to your attending physician. Those analyses may include your job at the time of injury, lighter duty work performed in the past or a modified job which you have the skills to perform. Should your attending physician sign one of these job analyses, you will be deemed able to work by the Department and your time loss compensation will stop.

However, should your physician determine that you cannot return to regular work or work performed in the past and the vocational counselor agrees you do not have the skills to perform other work without training, you will be provided with vocational retraining.

If my claim is rejected, how do I protest or appeal an unfavorable order from the Department of Labor & Industries?

Filing an appeal to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals can be a lengthy and expensive process. Contact Bothwell and Hamill immediately if you receive a denial or rejection order from the Department. We can review your claim and take appropriate action within the protest or appeal period.

Any unfavorable decision must be protested or appealed within 60 of receipt or it becomes final and binding.

How will my time loss compensation be calculated?

Time loss compensation calculation may be complex in some cases, and is always important. Generally speaking, time loss is determined by your monthly wages at the time of injury or manifestation. Wages can include room and board, income from a second job or self-employment, tips, bonuses and overtime. Wages also include the cost of employer-paid medical, dental and visual insurance premiums. However, employer contributions to a retirement plan are excluded.

After determining your monthly wages, the Department of Labor & Industries issues an order setting wages on your claim and pays a percentage of the wages as follows:

  • Single Workers - 60%
  • Married Workers - 65%
  • Each child born or conceived prior to injury date - 2%

If the department-issued wage order is incorrect, the order must be protested or appealed in writing within 60 days.

Can I draw Social Security benefits at the same time as I am drawing my time loss or pension benefits?

Yes. Between Social Security and the Department of Labor & Industries benefits, you are entitled to receive no more than 80% of your highest year’s earnings or your time loss compensation or pension rate – whichever is higher.

Social Security will reduce any retroactive benefits based on the wages you were receiving from the Department of Labor & Industries. Similarly, the Department will reduce your ongoing benefits based on your Social Security benefits. Applying for Social Security benefits is ideal if you know you will be disabled for at least one year.

Bothwell & Hamill can help you with Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Benefits. Contact us today if you have questions about either.

I’m interested in talking with Bothwell & Hamill. What should I do next and why should I hire Bothwell & Hamill?

At Bothwell & Hamill, we understand how difficult paying your medical bills, supporting yourself and your family can be if you’re injured on the job. The worker’s compensation process is full of deadlines and limited claim and appeal times. You deserve representation that is proactive, efficient and focused on the important issues.

As Workers’ Compensation attorney Tim Hamill says, “Every decision has a deadline to challenge that decision or it is final.” You deserve an attorney like Tim on your side, speaking up for you at every step.

Contact the offices of Bothwell & Hamill today. Or call 1-866-665-8630 for a FREE evaluation of your case. We’re happy to discuss your options with you over the phone and set up a telephone appointment if you’re unable to travel to our offices.