What to Do After a Work Injury
Collecting compensation after a workplace injury in Washington can be a complicated process. While your injury or illness may vary based on the type of work you do, filing a claim with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries will help you obtain compensation to recover from your damages. Following these steps can help you expedite the claims process and receive the benefits you need.
Step 1: Seek Medical Attention
Depending on the severity of your injury or illness, the first step you should take after a work injury is to seek medical attention. If you have a minor injury such as a sprain or small cut, receive first aid as soon as possible to keep the injury from progressing. If you have a more severe injury or illness, visit a doctor.
For your first visit, you can visit any doctor or hospital you choose to receive treatment. Inform the medical staff that you suffered an injury at work. They should provide you with assistance in filing a workers’ compensation claim. After your initial treatment, you will need to visit a doctor in the Department of Labor & Industries’ provider network for subsequent treatment.
Seeking medical attention after a workplace injury is extremely important because the doctor’s report will be a vital piece of evidence in your future claim. The medical report will detail the extent and likely cause of your injuries, helping you make your case for benefits and determining how much you may be eligible for.
Step 2: Report Your Injury
As soon as you suffer an injury on the job or realize you may have an illness as a result of your occupation, you will need to report the injury to your employer. Depending on the circumstances of your injury, you can report your injury before or after you seek medical attention. After you tell your employer about your condition, he or she will provide you with a form to complete to file your claim.
If you do not report your injury as soon as you can, you could delay your benefits or risk your eligibility altogether. In the state of Washington, you have one year from the date you suffer your injury or within two years from the date that a doctor diagnosed you with an occupational disease to file a claim. In addition, reporting as soon as possible will allow you to present the freshest evidence of your injury possible, increasing your chances of a successful outcome.
Step 3: Contact an Attorney and File Your Claim
Your employer should provide you with the required paperwork to file your claim with the Department of Labor & Industries, but it can be difficult to navigate. You will need to file different types of paperwork based on whether your employer has L&I insurance or is self-insured. At this stage, if applicable, contact a Seattle slip and fall accident attorney to assist you with the paperwork and ensure the information is correct and complete.
After you complete the required paperwork from your employer, he or she will submit the claim form to L&I. You may receive additional requests for information, such as independent medical exams, additional paperwork, and other correspondence. You may have the option to participate in a Stay at Work or a light-duty job program, depending on the extent of your injuries. Your attorney can help you navigate this follow-up process.
After this stage, the Department of Labor & Industries will either approve or reject your claim. With approval, you can begin your return to work process and start collecting benefits such as disability, medical expenses, wage replacement, and rehabilitation.
If L&I rejects your claim, you have the right to protest it. Your attorney can help you navigate the appeals process. You have 60 days from the date of your rejection to protest the L&I decision and will need to collect evidence from your employer, doctor, and other witnesses to help build a compelling case in your favor.
Workers’ compensation in Seattle can be a complex process, but having an experienced work injury attorney on your side can help you file in a timely, efficient manner. Contact Washington Injury Law for a free consultation.