Posts in Workers’ Compensation

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Psychological Treatment Under the L&I System

August 3rd, 2017 Posted by Workers' Compensation 0 comments on “Psychological Treatment Under the L&I System”

There is a natural psychological impact on any worker who has been seriously injured and/or unable to work for a long period of time.  The most common psychological conditions are the  result of a psychosocial fallout of serious injuries or occupational diseases are depression, anxiety and various adjustment disorders.  Many injured or sick workers suffer without seeking treatment even though treating the psychological damage of an injury or disease may be even more important (in individual cases) than treating the physical harm of that injury.  Each person reacts to serious injury or disease in their own way, but the vast majority of those who have suffered serious limitations related to their L&I matter will require psychiatric assistance.

When the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries or a Self-Insured Employer is confronted with an allegation of consequential depression, anxiety or adjustment disorder, the reaction is often to deny that the situation even exists. Claims managers very often don’t assist injured workers to make consequential mental health claims against the Department of Labor & Industries or Self-Insured Employers because treatment of those conditions typically delay claim closure and adds to costs.  Simply put, it’s not in the best interests financially of a party defending a workers’ compensation claim to agree to pay for treatment costs and increases in resulting permanency awards.  For this reason, defendants often resist allowance of these conditions.

Knowing What Is & Is Not Available Under the Industrial Insurance Act

Psychological treatment that is available under the Industrial Insurance Act includes all of the following:

  • Individual Psychotherapy
  • Group Psychotherapy
  • Therapy Including Family Members
  • Narcosynthesis (therapy under light anesthesia)
  • Biofeedback
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Medications

Psychological treatment that is NOT available under the Industrial Insurance Act includes all of the following:

  • Psychoanalysis (a therapy technique originated by Sigmund Freud which explores the mental processes of a patient by using free association, dream interpretation, and analysis of resistance and transference)
  • Multiple family group psychotherapy
  • Family psychotherapy without the patient’s presence
  • Interactive psychotherapy (such as use of physical aids, play equipment and other mechanisms of nonverbal communication to interview/treat the patient)

The rules to obtain psychiatric treatment under the L&I system are complex and sometimes daunting, especially to those already suffering from a serious combination of physical and mental health limitations.  Nevertheless, the possible rewards to following through with a claim for consequential mental health impact are substantial.  Often times a workplace injury pension award or substantially increased permanent partial disability award results in additional time being added to the loss benefits; this can prevent vocational rehabilitation counselors from improperly certifying an injured worker’s ability to return to work. It can also prevent attending physicians from ordering their patients back to work until a proper assessment and treatment has been provided.  In the end, the psychological harms of an L&I injury or occupational disease can often be far more financially valuable to the worker than the original injury or disease itself.

If you suspect that you have depression, anxiety or an adjustment disorder as a result of your industrial injury or occupational disease, tell your attending provider, ask for a mental health assessment by a treating psychiatrist. DO NOT have this done by an IME doctor who has been contracted by the defense’s interests.

We Can Help Your Labor & Industries Claim

When navigating a L&I claim in Washington, consider hiring the experienced and capable L&I attorneys of Washington Law Center.  We can help extend the life of your claim so that you can obtain the treatment and vocational benefits you deserve.  In the end, when we’ve added a consequential mental health diagnosis to the list of allowed conditions in your L&I claim, this will assist you to achieve retraining benefits or an injury pension that may have otherwise been denied.

Don’t suffer in silence or mismanage your claim into a position where you lose substantial benefits and the support of those around you.  Don’t look back on your closed claim and regret failing to reach out for the assistance everyone with a significant mental health injury should obtain.  The attorneys of Washington Law Center are experienced, compassionate and capable. We’ll work diligently to make sure this aspect of your L&I claim is properly compensated. Contact us today!

Spencer Parr is an attorney/partner at Washington Law Center who specializes in Washington labor & industriessocial security disability, & time-loss benefits. He is experienced in working all across the US as he has worked cases in Washington, California, New York, & Arizona. Click here to learn more about Spencer Parr.

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How to Handle Truck Driver & Delivery Driver Injuries

August 3rd, 2017 Posted by Workers' Compensation 0 comments on “How to Handle Truck Driver & Delivery Driver Injuries”

At Washington Law Center, we are very familiar with the injuries/occupational diseases suffered by truck drivers and delivery drivers. At any one time we represent numerous workers injured in this line of work.  Whether it’s climbing in and out of cabs, tying down loads, manipulating cargo during delivery or just the process of sitting while suffering over the road vibrations; truck driving and delivery drivers can take a tremendous toll on the body.  In addition, truck and delivery drivers are often the victims of motor vehicle accidents in which non-professional drivers cause injurious accidents to the professionals.  These are just some of the examples of ways professional truck drivers get injured or worn down over time.  Either way, a workers’ compensation or Labor & Industries claim should be filed in Washington.

What You Need to Know as an Injured Truck Driver:

Compensable Claims by Type of Injury in Trucking

Source: Washington State Department of Labor & Industries

Truck drivers that are injured at work have a legal responsibility to immediately report their injury to their employer, per RCW 51.28.010.  In turn, the employer has a legal responsibility to immediately report that an injured worker is claiming an industrial accident or occupational disease, per RCW 51.28.025.  At the same time, the moment a work injury claim is filed, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries or the employer may typically begin an aggressive and sophisticated effort in defense of that claim.  Why?  Because the truck driver injury rate is more than three times the injury rate of all other Washington industries combined! The expenses related to truck driver injuries and occupational diseases are also significantly higher on average than for other worker classifications.  Injury pensions (lifetime benefits) are more likely to result.  Accordingly, both the Department of Labor & Industries and affected employers typically mount substantial defenses against driver claims, including those in the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) classifications of 4841 (General Freight Trucking), 4842 (Specialized Freight Trucking), 492 (Couriers and Messengers) and 562 (Waste Collection).

What You Need to Do as an Injured Truck Driver:

  1. Call an experienced L&I attorney immediately! At Washington Law Center, our attorneys will talk you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected and your claim is properly managed. Your claim will be evaluated thoroughly with an eye for defense once it has been reported.
  2. Do not make any statements. If you have already made statements, stop making statements about the circumstances of your injury, any pre-existing medical conditions or the role these may or may not have played in the accident. Essentially you should not say anything else about your industrial injury or occupational disease until you have spoken with an L&I attorney at the Washington Law Center.
  3. If you are at work, politely inform your supervisor that you need to leave to seek medical care. You’ll be happy to discuss what happened later, but now you need to get to the doctor.
  4. Make notes about who was on the job with you (including employees from other companies), what work was being performed, and what happened to cause your injury.
  5. Leave the job site and go to an urgent care center or an emergency room. Immediately report your injury or occupational disease to a physician.  Make sure you have identified your belief that your injury or new symptoms are occupationally-related and that you want the medical expenses to be processed as a workers’ compensation claim.

Then, if you haven’t already, call an attorney at Washington Law Center for help.  If all of this occurs after hours, call in sick the next morning and then speak to our attorneys for immediate guidance.

Examples of Truck Driver Injuries and Occupational Diseases We’ve Represented:

Example 1:

A man walks into our office to discuss a non-injury legal matter.  He is aging and stiff, obviously in physical discomfort.  When asked why he’s struggling, he lists almost all parts of his body as just being “worn out.”  When asked what he does for a living, he responds that he is a truck driver, now working a “no-touch” delivery route because he can no longer manipulate loads or heavy packages.  He has had pre-existing injuries to many of his affected body parts, but never filed an Labor & Industries claim.  His employer had watched him decline over the years, but has not suggested using L&I.  Our attorneys immediately got him to an appropriate occupational medicine physician and, despite significant push-back from an L&I Claims Manager, helped him establish an occupation disease claim for a neck strain, lumbar strain, bilateral shoulder strain and bilateral knee strain.  As a result of our representation, this man has received more than $111,000 in time-loss benefits, additional money in Social Security disability insurance benefits, and may likely obtain a lifetime pension.

Example 2:

A woman is injured in Nebraska while sleeping as her co-driver was driving.  The co-driver was cut off by a reckless driver, causing the co-driver to evade in a way that threw our client into the wall of her sleeping compartment.  Our client was not a Washington state resident, nor was she injured in Washington, but her Nebraska workers’ compensation claim was being contested.  We then helped her file and win a claim in Washington based on the fact that her employer’s headquarters is in Washington.  She has since received significant benefits, including those which covered surgery expenses and time loss-benefits.  She continues to live out-of-state.  She is expected to receive significant permanent partial disability benefits at the end of her claim.

Example 3:

A truck driver suffered through many years of climbing into and out of a truck cab, constantly suffering strain on his knees.  One day, he slipped from the step as he was getting into his truck, causing him to strain his left knee.  The Department of Labor & Industries took the position that he had “pre-existing” knee arthritis, so the Department was not responsible for his total knee replacement.  Our attorneys plead theories of both occupational disease and acute injury. We successfully won his case, as well as his right to a total knee replacement covered under the L&I system.  He eventually received tens of thousands of dollars in time-loss and permanent partial disability benefits before he was able to successfully return to work.

If you are a truck driver or delivery driver and believe your work either caused or contributed to a significant medical condition (including “joint pain”), please give the attorneys of Washington Law Center a call.  We can and will help you.

Spencer Parr is an attorney/partner at Washington Law Center who specializes in Washington labor & industriessocial security disability, & time-loss benefits. He is experienced in working all across the US as he has worked cases in Washington, California, New York, & Arizona. Click here to learn more about Spencer Parr.

Tacoma Attorney Practice Area Background

When Does A Labor & Industries Case Close?

March 14th, 2017 Posted by Workers' Compensation 0 comments on “When Does A Labor & Industries Case Close?”

The Department of Labor and Industries is a massive executive branch agency that uses claims managers who are not attorneys (and who are not even supervised by attorneys). They make critical legal decisions that determine the substantive rights of injured workers.

What could possibly go wrong? In practice, pretty much everything.   (more…)

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Reopening a L&I Claim Under Washington Labor and Industries State Laws

March 7th, 2017 Posted by Workers' Compensation 0 comments on “Reopening a L&I Claim Under Washington Labor and Industries State Laws”

If your Washington L&I claim has been denied in the past and you’re looking to see if you’re eligible to reopen it, there’s still a chance. Read my summary below to see if you are eligible for “good cause.”

If you need help reopening an L&I claim, feel free to reach out to myself or any of the experienced Tacoma L&I attorneys at Washington Law Center.

“Can I Reopen My L&I Claim?”

RCW 51.32.160(1)(d) provides that an application to reopen an L&I claim shall be granted if the Department of Labor & Industries does not issue an order of denial within 90 days of the Department’s receipt of that application.  

However, there is one exception to this rule. (more…)

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Heart Attacks at Work Under Washington’s Industrial Insurance Act

January 23rd, 2017 Posted by Workers' Compensation 0 comments on “Heart Attacks at Work Under Washington’s Industrial Insurance Act”

The ramifications for suffering a myocardial infraction (heart attack) at work are significant.  If the worker dies, the spouse and minor children are entitled to substantial awards of money, potentially to include a pension for the remainder of the spouse’s lifetime, if the claim is found to be compensable under Washington’s Industrial Insurance Act.  If the worker doesn’t die, there will still be very expensive cardiac rehabilitation and medication costs which will typically devastate the worker’s finances and often force the worker and his/her family into bankruptcy if the heart attack claim is denied. (more…)

Over $100 million awarded to our clients by verdict, settlement, injury pension or judgment