Dealing with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries can be overwhelming. We have been representing injured workers like you for over 40 years. We work closely with our clients to make sure we get the best outcome for them.
As a worker, you have had money taken out of each of your paychecks to pay into this system. If you are injured or develop a health condition as a result of your employment, it is only right that you receive the benefits that you paid for. Unfortunately, many workers find that the practical realities of the system fail to meet their expectations. They find that they are treated like they are guilty until proven innocent. They find that there seems to be more effort made to close their claim than to treat their conditions. They find that they are treated as a burden rather than a valued and loyal employee by their employer. That’s why your best course of action is to talk with an experienced attorney about your injuries and claim. Regardless of what phase of the process you are in, seeking solid legal help as early as possible is your best chance to get all of the benefits that you are entitled to receive.
What we can offer:
- We have a team of Attorneys who work together to advise you and protect you.
- We assign your case to a skilled paralegal dedicated to doing nothing but worker’s compensation cases.
- We receive all communication from the department, which means you can focus on your treatment and getting better.
- We strategize with you to make sure we get the benefits you deserve and are owed.
- You no longer have to deal with the claims manager, because we do that for you.
We want to take the stress and worry out of the process for you.
Common questions about workers compensation claims:
How do I file a workers' compensation claim?
We can help you. Workers are frequently denied benefits because they fail to properly document all of their injuries or conditions. Your claim may also be delayed if it is missing requested information. We can help you prepare your accident report after taking the time to discuss your injuries fully with you and will make sure to include any information necessary to address all of the injuries or conditions that can be attributed to your work.
What paperwork can I expect in the mail?
You can expect that you will receive a great deal of mail related to your claim. We take the burden off of you by receiving all of your mail to make sure that nothing is lost, and that no deadlines are missed. We will also make sure to discuss the ramifications of any correspondence with you and advise you on a course of action that will best protect your rights.
May I change doctors or seek a second medical opinion after my claim is filed?
We can help you with getting your claims manager to approve a change of doctors or to get a second opinion. Getting your requests approved faster gets you the treatment you need faster and may help you obtain a better treatment outcome.
What if I think my injury was the fault of a third party?
Many attorneys who have a personal injury practice do not handle workers compensation claims and my not understand how one claim affects the other. You could be in for a surprise if both claims are not handled with consideration for the other. If you were injured by a third party while you were on the job, you need a lawyer who actually practices in both areas of the law. We frequently help our clients with both their workers compensation claim as well as a personal injury claim against third parties when appropriate. Our clients may also be entitled to UM/UIM benefits.
What is the purpose of Independent Medical Examinations?
There is often nothing independent about the opinions of an IME doctor. Remember their time is paid for by the Department or the Self Insured Employer. They will frequently find that your injury was pre-existing and unrelated to your work injury, even though you may have never had any symptoms prior to your injury. They may often disagree with your doctor about your need for treatment. They may say that you aren’t really disabled and that you should return to work, even though your doctor doesn’t think you can.
We can help you overcome the IME’s paid for “opinions” that would otherwise be used to close your claim, terminate your benefits, and send you back to work that you aren’t physically capable of performing.
Who conducts Independent Medical Examinations?
Yes, an IME is intended to provide an impartial medical opinion about a worker's condition or medical treatment. However, our experience is that these doctors many times render opinions that are inconsistent with the facts. You may be sent for IME examinations repeatedly as the department tries to build a case against your claim. Fortunately the doctors who have actually treated you and your own attending physician’s opinions are given special consideration. We work to gather strong evidence to support your claim so that when it comes time to enter a protest or appeal a decision, we are arguing from a solid foundation.
Who pays for Independent Medical Examinations?
Although the examinations that are ordered by the department are paid for by the department, there may be a need for you to obtain your own IME. If this is necessary, you will have to pay that cost. We try to avoid incurring costs that our clients are responsible for paying and will only do so after consulting with you and explaining why it would be advisable.
What if I can't do my job?
We can help make sure that a light duty job isn’t used to harass you. We will also take steps to stop the Department or your employer from asking you to do work that is beyond your physical capability.
What if my employer wants me to see a company doctor?
It is our strong belief that you should choose your own doctor. A doctor who works for the company might consider putting the interests of the company over the interests of the worker. Shocking I know!
What if my employer wants a company nurse or representative to accompany me to the doctor?
You should think carefully before you agree to allow a company nurse or their Legal Representative to accompany you to your doctor visits. We have found that these “agents” of the company frequently encourage the doctor toward a particular diagnosis or course of treatment that is in the companies, not the workers, best interest. They may also try to influence a doctor’s determination of your work limitations. If your doctor says you can go back to work, but you are in too much pain to actually do your regular job, then you could be fired for failing to perform your job duties.
I'm afraid to report my injury because I don't want to get fired. What do I do?
We can help you with your discrimination or retaliation claim. This happens more often that you would expect and you should have the help of a qualified attorney to protect you.
Can my employer fire me for filing a claim?
If your employer terminates you while you have an open claim, the termination will not affect your Workers Compensation benefits. If you are being paid time loss, you can continue to be paid time loss. If you are entitled to receive retraining or a permanent partial disability award, you may still receive those benefits. We will review the record closely to see if a discrimination or retaliation claim can be brought against your employer for your termination.
What if I disagree with an L&I or Self Insured decision and want to protest?
You only have Sixty (60) days from receipt to protest or appeal a decision. You will need to develop a record that supports your position. Hopefully, you have been taking action before you even receive a negative decision. That’s why it is important to seek legal assistance as early as possible. If you try to do this without the help of an attorney, you will be at a disadvantage.