Washington Workers Comp Lawyer


Workers Comp/State Industrial Insurance

Washington State workers comp coverage is an industrial insurance program that works to secure prompt quality medical care, return-to-work options, and provide financial security for injured workers as they recover, while controlling employer and employee costs. Washington State workers comp coverage protects both Washington workers and employers from the financial impact of a work-related injury or occupational disease. Industrial insurance pays for an injured worker’s approved medical and medical related services that are necessary to the worker’s treatment and recovery. An injured worker who is temporarily unable to work also receives time loss benefits. Time loss benefits replaces a significant portion of the worker’s wages. With few exceptions, it is mandatory for an employer or prospective employer to provide workers’ comp insurance coverage for their employees and other eligible workers. In return, businesses are immune from employee lawsuits for when a work-related injury or illness occurs. Owners of businesses do not have to have workers comp insurance, but you may want to.  If you, as an owner, become injured while you are working you would have the same benefits as any other employee including medical coverage and lost wages.  Without a worker comp lawyer you are at risk.

There are two ways to provide coverage to employees. Most employers (about 75%) purchase coverage through the Department of Labor & Industries, who manage all claims and pay benefits out of the Washington State Fund. The fund is financed by premiums paid by employers and employees. The alternate manner is through self-insurance, which is available to companies with at least $25 million in assets, and some governmental entities who demonstrate they have sufficient financial stability, and an effective accident prevention program. The exact premium rates paid by employers depend on the nature of the business and the company’s own history of accident claims.

All insurance premiums are collected and eventually paid as benefits or administrative expenses by the Washington State Fund managed by the Department of Labor and Industries. According to a study by the Joint Audit Review Committee, Washington State is above the 75th percentile among the states in benefits paid and below the 25th percentile in costs charged.

Historical Perspective of Washington State Workers Comp

Workers Comp was enacted by Washington State in 1911 to protect workers and employers. Workers Comp laws were enacted to provide workers who were injured “sure and certain relief”.  The law did not require the assignment of fault and the legal formalities were kept to a minimum to assure efficiency.  Employers were also given something.  Workers Comp protected employers from personal injury lawsuits and limits claims.  The Department of labor and Industries is the state agency designated to administer industrial insurance.  Companies can either self-insure or purchase coverage through the State.

The state of Maryland passed the first workers comp law in 1902 and between 1911 and 1915 thirty (30) states enacted workers comp law; however, Washington was the first state to make workers comp mandatory. The program has grown through the century but has stayed fundamentally the same. In 1937, the law began covering occupational diseases. In 1971, the Legislature expanded coverage to all classifications of employment in the state, not just the most hazardous. In 1972, self-insurance for workers comp was allowed for qualified individual businesses within Washington State.

Recent Changes to Washington’s Workers Comp System

In 2011, Washington State Legislature passed into law changes to Washington’s workers comp system effective January 1, 2013. The significant reforms are briefly summarized below:

  1.  Medical Provider Network requires injured workers must obtain ongoing treatment from providers in the network except for the initial office or emergency-room visit. The network is managed by L&I and is open to all qualified providers who meet network requirements.
  2. Stay at Work Program provides financial incentives to employers who work with their injured workers and find ways return them back to light-duty or transitional jobs that are safe for them. Eligible employers can be reimbursed for up to 50% of the injured worker’s base wage up to a maximum of $10,000 per claim. Employers may also be reimbursed up to $1,000 for training costs, 2,500 in tools and $400 in clothing per claim.
  3. Structured Settlement provides an option to resolve disability benefits for a qualified workers’ compensation claim. A structured settlement is a written agreement between all parties where the worker is paid an amount of compensation through periodic payments. Workers who enter into a structured settlement can still receive medical treatment authorized under their claim.

Industrial Claim Statistics

Today, Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries is one of the largest and oldest providers of workers comp in the United States. The State Fund covers more than 151,000 employers and 1.7 million workers while the remaining of Washington workers are covered by approximately 400 large employers that self-insure. About 180,000 claims are filed with the department each year and an estimated 85% are accepted by the Department as valid.  If you have a claim contact a workers comp lawyer to make sure you are represented during this time.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor, in 2011 there were over 109,000 thousand non-fatal claims and 58 reportable job-related deaths in the state of Washington as compared with the estimated 4 million injured workers and 4,609 fatalities in the United States. Of the 109,000 Washington state claims 37,500 resulted in workers taking days off from work, and of those, 17,000 cases required job transfer or restriction. The manufacturing and construction industries had the highest non-fatal incident rate. White, non-Hispanic male workers between the ages of 45 and 64 accounted for the vast majority of the job-related fatalities. Of the 58 deaths, 29 were related to transportation incidents, followed by contact with objects and equipment and trip, slip and fall accidents each having 9 reported cases.

If you have been injured in an accident at work or if you have an occupational illness, you deserve protection.  Call our office today to talk to a Workers Comp Lawyer.

Call 253-631-6484.  We don’t get paid unless you get paid.



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