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Will My Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals Trial be Open to the Public?

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Yes, all of the documents, pleadings, exhibits and testimony transcripts in a workers’ compensation trial will typically be available to anyone who requests copies or does a competent internet search, unless a very narrow exception exists where the court finds there is a compelling reason to seal your trial record. Courts almost never seal a workers’ compensation trial record, and even if they did, that record could still likely be unsealed at a later date. If there is a compelling reason you think your trial record must be sealed, you must make a formal motion to accomplish this goal before the trial commences.

Significant Decisions from the Washington State Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals (BIIA)

Article 1, Section 10 of the Washington State Constitution requires that courts conduct judicial proceedings openly and without delay. (1) This means that court proceedings and court documents are presumptively open to the public, and an exception is appropriate “only in the most unusual of circumstances.” (2) Although openness is presumed, it is not absolute. (3) “The public’s right of access may be limited to protect other significant and fundamental rights, such as a defendant’s right to fair trial.” (4) Such rights are very unlikely to be placed at risk due to a workers’ compensation trial.

Industrial Appeals Judge Unlikely to Seal Your Trial Record

GR 15 preserves a long-established principle that the complete names of parties are to be listed in the docket for the actions to which they are parties. (5) This is true for BIIA matters also. GR 15(c)(2) allows a court to seal a court record if there are “compelling privacy and safety concerns that outweigh the public interest in access to the court record.” GR 15(e)(3) directs the court to unseal a record upon a motion and proof “that identified compelling circumstances for continued sealing no longer exist.” The court must analyze any motion to redact or seal using both GR 15 and the factors listed in Seattle Times Co. v. Ishikawa, 97 Wn.2d 30, 640 P.2d 716 (1982). Again, it is highly unlikely that any industrial appeals judge would agree to seal your workers’ compensation trial record, but if you believe a compelling reason exists, please discuss this with your attorney before the commencement of the trial.

Experienced Trial Attorneys in Seattle, Washington

If you need help with your Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, it is in your best interest to contact one of the experienced attorneys of Washington Law Center for a free consultation immediately. Get in contact with us!


  1. Const. art. 1, § 10.
  2. Hundtofte v. Encarnación, 181 Wn.2d 1, 7, 330 P.3d 168 (2014).
  3. State v. McEnroe, 174 Wn.2d 795, 801, 279 P.3d 861 (2012) (citing to Dreiling v. Jain, 151 Wn.2d 900, 909, 93 P.3d 861 (2004)).
  4. McEnroe, 174 Wn.2d at 801.
  5. Hundtofte, 181 Wn.2d at 16

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Spencer Parr

Partner
Labor & Industries / Personal Injury Attorney

Spencer Parr is a litigation and trial attorney at Washington Law Center focused primarily in the areas of Labor & Industries claims and injury pension benefits. Before co-founding Washington Law Center, Spencer served in the U.S. Army. He has litigated major issues in the law, represented clients from coast to coast, and dedicated his professional life to assisting the injured and disabled. Click here to learn more about Spencer. View More Labor & Industries and Work Injury Resources.

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