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L&I and Work Injury Compensation Resources

We understand how difficult it is to navigate the L&I claims process in the state of Washington. We’re here to help!

Understanding L&I and The Claims Process

Benefits of Hiring an L&I Attorney

Washington Injury Attorney Reviews - Washington Law Center

L&I Wage Orders

Washington Injury Attorney Reviews - Washington Law Center

Injured Workers in Washington State

What is the Industrial Insurance Act?

Washington’s Industrial Insurance Act provides for our state’s workers’ compensation system. The Industrial Insurance Act (“IIA”) “is based on a compromise between workers and employers, under which workers become entitled to speedy and sure relief, while employers are immunized from common law responsibility.” In other words, workers generally cannot sue their employers or their co-employees (workers who share the same common employer), but injured workers are supposed to obtain benefits for indemnity (lost wages and lost earning power) as well as “proper and necessary” medical treatment.

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How To Best Handle Your Workers' Comp Claim

A work-related injury can be devastating. There are many challenges when good health is lost to injury or occupational disease. Finances are depleted while the worker receives less than full pay, loss of employer-sponsored healthcare insurance, and misses out on overtime opportunities not to mention the chance to earn performance-based bonuses. There is a toll on the mental health of everyone involved as fear and anxiety become a byproduct of the injury. There is also the inevitable impact, sometimes catastrophic, on the injured worker’s family as relationships can be irreparably altered by the changes brought by a severe injury. That is where a workers’ compensation claim can help improve the situation… if you follow the rules.

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Reopening An L&I Claim in Washington

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 Seattle L&I attorneys at Washington Law Center.

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Are You Employable After Your Work Injury?

The Department of Labor and Industries has outlined requirements for finding an injured worker capable of either returning to work or being retrained. If the Department finds that the injured worker is not “employable” even with the assistance of retraining, then an injury pension results; except where the injured worker’s lack of employability is caused by a post-accident or post-disease condition.

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How Do Presumptions Work in L&I Claims?

The law is very complicated. Presumptions are no exception. Even when a presumption applies in an injured worker’s favor, this does not stop aggressive defense interests from challenging in court. The safest policy is to “presume” your case is not won until you have a final and binding order against your opponent from a court of competent jurisdiction (or the Department of Labor & Industries if no appeal was ever taken).

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L&I Claim Allowance Requirements

There are two types of Labor and Industries claims, each with their own requirements for allowance and treatment under the Industrial Insurance Act (workers’ compensation law).

The first type of claim is called an Industrial Injury. RCW 51.08.100 defines an industrial injury as “a sudden and tangible happening, of a traumatic nature, producing an immediate or prompt result, and occurring from without, and such physical conditions as result therefrom.”

The second type of claim is called an Occupational Disease claim. RCW 51.08.140 defines an “occupational disease” as “such disease or infection as arises naturally and proximately out of employment…” This type of claim differs from an industrial injury claim in that it occurs over a prolonged period of time and is usually associated with repetitive work.

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I Want Resolution To My L&I Claim But Does My Doctor Care?

If you have been injured on the job you know how difficult it can be to feel heard. At times, your doctor doesn’t seem to be listening anymore even after you followed all the instructions to get better. Why does it feel like he or she doesn’t care anymore and what can you do to fix it?

Most doctors care deeply about their patients and want to do everything possible to help them heal and return to full-time employment. But doctors are human too, and their job has similarities to any other. After years of fighting with L&I, you can expect your doctor to get a little tired of filling out endless forms, dealing with their treatment guidelines, and having their suggestions being ignored or denied. So how can you help support your doctor and keep your L&I claim on track?

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When Does A L&I Claim 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.

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L&I Claim Compensation

Injured Workers in Washington State

L&I Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)

Washington Injury Attorney Reviews - Washington Law Center

Deferred Recoupment Agreement

A Deferred Recoupment Agreement is a contract between the Washington Department of Labor and Industries and an injured worker agreeing that the injured worker does not need to repay an overpayment of L&I benefits unless or until the injured worker seeks new monetary benefits in either their current or a future workers’ compensation claim.

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Protesting and Appealing an L&I Decision

What Are Injured Workers' Protest Rights?

A Department of Labor & Industries order becomes final 60 days after the Department communicates the order to the required parties unless a written request for reconsideration, also known as a “protest,” or an appeal is filed. See RCW 51.52.050(1). A protest “automatically operates to set aside the Department’s order and hold in abeyance the final adjudication of the matter until the Department officially acts to issue its final decision by a ‘further appealable order.’” Santos Alonzo, 56,833 and 56,833A, 1981 WL 375946, at *3 (Wash. Bd. of Indus. Ins. Appeals Dec. 9, 1981); (RCW 51.52.060).

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Burden of Proof for L&I Claims

The burden of proof has two parts: a burden of production and a burden of persuasion. Fed. Signal Corp. v. Safety Factors, Inc., 125 Wn.2d 413, 433, 886 P.2d 172 (1994). A party with the burden of production on a particular fact in issue must produce sufficient evidence to warrant submitting that issue to the trier of fact. State v. Paul, 64 Wn. App. 801, 806, 828 P.2d 594 (1992). Otherwise, the party has failed in meeting their burden and must automatically loose. Whether a party has produced a sufficient quantity of evidence to submit the factual issue to the trier of fact presents a legal question to be decided by the court.  Paul, 64 Wn. App. at 806. In other words, each case is fact sensitive so that there is no generalized statement of what quantity or type of evidence will suffice for every case. A party will still lose their case if both sides meet their burden of production but only the opposing side meets their burden of persuasion. Sometimes, a court will find that evidence is equally balanced and may then be forced to rule on the facts using presumptions.

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L&I Work Assessments

What To Know Before Your IME (Independent Medical Exam)

Washington Injury Attorney Reviews - Washington Law Center

Fight Your Ability To Work Assessment

Washington Injury Attorney Reviews - Washington Law Center

What to Expect At The BIIA

Washington Injury Attorney Reviews - Washington Law Center

Functional Capacity Evaluation under L&I

The following are consensus opinions regarding functional capacity evaluations, also known as functional capacity exams and performance-based functional capacity exams. Any such exam may also be referred to as an “FCE” or “PBFCE,” but these are all just differing names given to the same type of physical examination report used to make claim-related decisions in a Title 51, RCW, Labor & Industries (Washington workers’ compensation) matter.

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No Fee Until You Win

At Washington Law Center, we have a “No-Fee Promise” with all of our injury cases. Our attorney fees are contingent, so you pay no fees unless or until we collect money on your behalf.

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Case Results From Past Work Injury (L&I) Clients

Spencer’s Personal Career Recoveries are over $125,000,000 on behalf of Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation, and Social Security Disability recipients, including:

$2,177,000 – Industrial Injury Pension for a 51-Year Old Man who Suffered Physical and Mental Health Injuries
Injury pension paid at nearly $60,000 (inflation adjusting) per year for a client with significant physical and mental health injuries.

$1,900,000 – Injury Pension for Physical and Mental Health Impairments
Injury pension paid at nearly $60,000 per year for a client with significant physical and mental health impairments.

$1,886,000 – Industrial Injury Pension for a 53-Year Old Man who Suffered Physical and Mental Health Injuries
Injury pension paid at nearly $60,000 (inflation adjusting) per year for a client with significant physical and mental health injuries.

$1,825,000 – Industrial Injury Pension for a 38-Year Old Man who Suffered Physical and Mental Health Injuries
Injury pension paid at nearly $40,000 (inflation adjusting) per year for a client with significant physical and mental health injuries.

$1,150,000 – Personal Injury (Third-Party) and L&I Settlement for a 60-Year Old Woman who Suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury at Work.
This settlement was typical of many traumatic brain injury cases, where there is a relative paucity of objective evidence but the person injured was also very credible.

$1,100,000 – Injury Pension for Injured Worker
Expected injury pension paid at $24,000 per year to an injured worker for an expected 46 more years.

$1,100,000 – Personal Injury (Third-Party) Settlement for a 52-Year Old Woman who Suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury at Work.
In addition to the Third-Party Personal Injury Settlement, this woman also received a very valuable Industrial Injury Pension that pays were monthly for the rest of her life.

$1,021,000 – Injury Pension for 48-Year Old Woman who Suffered Physical and Mental Health Injuries
Expected injury pension paid at nearly $24,000 (inflation adjusting) per year to an injured worker for an expected 46 more years.

$1,000,000 – Injury Pension Granted After Another L&I Attorney Failed
Expected injury pension paid at $35,000 per year. This client found attorney Spencer Parr following their representation by a prior Labor & Industries attorney who could not meet the client’s legal needs.

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$960,000 – Injury Pension for Injured Worker
Expected injury pension paid at $64,000 per year for an injured worker.

$876,000 – Injury Pension for Injured Worker
Expected injury pension paid at nearly $44,000 per year for an injured worker.

$852,000 – Injury Pension for Injured Worker
Expected injury pension paid at $23,000 per year for an injured worker.

Injury Pension Granted to Widow of Worker Who Died From Injuries
L&I Survivor’s Pension worth [undisclosed] per year for a widow’s remaining life expectancy after her husband died from his injuries more than a decade after his L&I claim closed with only a small permanent partial disability(PPD) award.

Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Case Reopened and Won
L&I Survivor’s Pension worth [undisclosed] per year for a widow’s remaining life expectancy after her husband died following multiple injury-related surgeries, despite the Department of Labor & Industries initial order stating that his claim was closed with no permanent partial disability(PPD) awarded.

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Vocational Rehabilitation Under L&I

Do L&I Vocational Rehabilitation Services Actually Benefit You?

An injured worker with an astute eye will immediately realize that many of the so-called “services” provided by a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) assigned either by the Department of Labor & Industries or the Self-Insured Employer (usually acting through a Third-Party Administrator or TPA) are contrary to the interests of the injured or ill worker who believes they cannot work. In this sense, WAC 296-19A-020 provides for “disservices” to the injured workers, and the defense interests know this well!

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What Are Early Intervention Vocational Services Under the Industrial Insurance Act?

An injured worker with an L&I claim will often be assigned a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) who appears with a stated mission to perform “early intervention vocational services.” Sometimes, the assignment of such a VRC is an indication that conflict is coming between the injured or ill worker and the Department of Labor & Industries and Self-Insured Employer. It is often, therefore, a reason to consult an experienced Labor & Industries attorney.

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What Are Vocational Rehabilitation Plan Development Services Under the Industrial Insurance Act?

Once an Ability to Work Assessment has been performed and the Department of Labor & Industries agrees (whether in a State Fund case or in a Self-Insured Employer case) that an injured worker cannot return to work without retraining assistance; the Department will issue an order indicating that the worker is entitled to Plan Development Services. This may or may not be good news for an injured or ill worker. It’s very good news if the injured worker believes they can return to work with some assistance in retraining; it’s very bad news if the injured worker doesn’t believe they can work and should instead be found entitled to an injury pension.

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Occupational Disease

Electrician Occupational Disease

Washington Injury Attorney Reviews - Washington Law Center

Nurse / Health Workers Occupational Disease

Washington Injury Attorney Reviews - Washington Law Center

COVID-19 Under L&I

Yes, coronavirus (COVID-19) is an infectious disease with the highest potential transmission rate among healthcare workers, first responders, school teachers, and others whose work brings them into contact with large numbers of sick individuals. Any worker may claim coronavirus as an occupational disease pursuant to RCW 51.08.140. It’s worth noting that firefighters, in particular, have a presumption of occupational disease pursuant to RCW 51.32.185.

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Flight Attendant or Pilot

The skies are a dangerous place to work. Carrying and lifting baggage can cause strains and sprains on muscles and ligaments. Baggage can also dislodge from overhead bins as they are opened and cause physical harm. Knees are constantly struck against seat arms as the crew tries to squeeze by passengers in the aisles. Heads, shoulders, and necks get injured as flight attendants are thrown against the aircraft ceiling in high turbulence. Belligerent passengers assault crew members. Viruses and sickness get transmitted in the close quarters inside the aircraft. Slip and falls take place on ramps, stairs, and in the bustle of airports. Even the pilots in the relative safety of their cockpits get injured, by enduring long and turbulent flights without being able to move from their seats, causing lumbar strains and even disc herniation. Recently, a study from Harvard reported that the flight crew also suffer a higher lifetime prevalence of many types of cancer than the general population.

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Are Tow Truck Operators More Prone to Occupational Disease?

Every part of a tow truck operator’s musculoskeletal system is at risk of suffering from repeated microtrauma. This job requires repetitive bending, reaching, twisting, stooping and kneeling, lifting, pushing and pulling, and medium-to-heavy physical exertion from a myriad of awkward postures. Whether it’s putting together the wheel assembly, jacking up half the weight of a stranded vehicle, strapping the wheels, hooking up safety chains, jumping in and out of the truck cab (under time pressure; often on rough and uneven surfaces), or just bumping along the road and suffering from over-the-road vibrations, the work is hard on their bodies. The physical toll on the tow truck operator’s body is unquestionable.

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Mesothelioma Compensation with L&I

Most people have heard mass tort attorneys on TV advertising for mesothelioma cases. Mass tort is one way to seek mesothelioma compensation for this very common and unfortunate condition. A better, more efficient way to settle a case like this is to use Washington Law Center, a local, more personal, and more aggressive mesothelioma law firm.

Billions have been set aside in trust funds for victims (and their families) of this always-fatal disease. What most people don’t realize is that each widow or widower may also have a workers’ compensation survivor’s benefits claim for mesothelioma compensation. In Washington, this is certainly the case based on the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals’ significant decision of In re Christopher Aalmo, Dec’d, BIIA Dec., 87 4382 (1989), Affirmed, Department of Labor & Indus. v. Aalmo, 117 Wn.2d 222 (1991).

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Are Washington’s Injured Workers Entitled to Dental Implants?

Attorneys Spencer D. Parr and Aaron VanderPol of Washington Law Center recently co-litigated and won an important victory on behalf of all Washington’s injured workers. The case of Robert B. Jones emphatically now answers the question of whether dental implants may be authorized as proper and necessary medical care under Washington’s Industrial Insurance Act. The answer to that question is clearly “yes,” as long as the dental implants are the appropriate standard of care for the individual whose case is under consideration.

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Psychological Treatment under L&I

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.

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Managing Compensation Claims for Hanford Nuclear Site Workers

After a multi-year battle spearheaded by the attorneys at Washington Law Center, a Hanford nuclear site worker exposed to toxic chemicals over the course of his employment was finally paid the benefits he’s been owed for years. Getting three years of benefits paid was a huge win for our client.

The Department of Energy fought us every step of the way, forcing us to spend thousands of dollars and hire multiple attorneys to get the benefits to which all Washington workers are entitled.

New legislation passed this year will help other Hanford workers pursue their claims without the same difficulties. Washington Law Center is poised to help these deserving worker’s get what’s owed to them.

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Special Circumstances Under L&I

Self-Insured Employers

Washington Injury Attorney Reviews - Washington Law Center

Third Party L&I Claims

Washington Injury Attorney Reviews - Washington Law Center

Heart Attacks at Work under L&I

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.

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Injured At Western State Psychiatric Hospital?

If you’re from the Pacific Northwest chances are you’ve heard of Western State Hospital, located in Lakewood, Washington. Western State, as it’s often referred to, began in 1870 as one of the first mental health facilities in our state and was the main facility servicing McNeil Correctional Facility.

Now Western State Psychiatric Hospital is overseen and administered by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. It makes psychiatric rehabilitation, treatment, and counseling available to over half of Washington state’s population. The vast majority of this treatment is court mandated, although the facility does also treat voluntary patients suffering from psychiatric disorders.

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Is My Common Law Marriage Valid for My Washington L&I Claim?

Whether or not you are married, the day you are injured at work can have significant financial consequences over the course of your claim. Married workers are entitled to an additional 5% of their gross monthly wages as temporary or permanent disability benefits. In addition, a married worker’s spouse is entitled to death benefits if a worker dies as a result of their injury. Sometimes, workers have lived together with a partner for many years without ever formally going through a wedding ceremony or obtaining a marriage certificate. They act, live, and present themselves to others as if they are married. These types of relationships are commonly referred to as “common law marriages”.

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OVER $100 MILLION AWARDED TO OUR CLIENTS BY VERDICT, SETTLEMENT, INJURY PENSION OR JUDGMENT

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