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If you suffer a work-related injury, you likely will receive benefits through the Workers’ Compensation program. Almost all employers in the state are required to offer this coverage to their employees.

The program offers valuable benefits, but complying with the rules can sometimes be challenging. For instance, if the  workers’ compensation program denies your claim, our legal team could help. A Tacoma Workers’ Compensation lawyer could guide you through this system. A dedicated injury attorney could help you collect the payments you deserve and ensure that a single mistake does not derail your claim.

Understanding the Workers’ Compensation Program

The Revised Code of Washington §51.12.02 describes which employers must provide Workers’ Compensation to their employees. Almost everyone who hires someone else must participate in the program, with very few exceptions. The State Department of Labor and Industries administers the program, and people often refer to “L&I” when talking about Workers’ Compensation.

Employees cannot opt out of workers’ comp. An employee also cannot sue their employer for damages unless the employer illegally fails to participate in L&I or the employer intentionally injures the worker.

Medical Benefits

When an employee gets hurt while working or develops a work-related illness, Workers’ Compensation pays all medical expenses until the person is cured or reaches a point where further treatment will not improve their condition.

Lost Income Benefits

If the illness or injury causes the person to lose time at work, L&I pays between 60-75 percent of their weekly wage, depending on how many dependents the worker has. A Workers’ Compensation doctor must certify that the employee cannot perform their job due to illness or injury.

If the employee can return to their job with restrictions or do a different job, L&I pays a percentage of the difference between the worker’s pre-injury salary and what they can earn in their current condition. An employee who believes they cannot return to work should contact a Tacoma attorney for advice on collecting lost income benefits through the workers’ compensation system.

Disability Benefits

If an on-the-job accident causes a permanent partial disability (PPD) but the employee can work, L&I pays a settlement amount depending on the worker’s disability rating. This disability rating is a doctor’s assessment of how much functioning the worker has lost, expressed as a percentage.

If the employee’s condition is so severe that they will never be employable, L&I pays this person a disability pension for the rest of their life.

How a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Could Help

The workers’ compensation system is complex, and there are multiple rules an injured worker must follow to get the benefits they are entitled to. A local attorney is familiar with the process, knows how to avoid common pitfalls, and could be an excellent source of advice.

For example, sometimes there are unacceptable delays in receiving L&I benefits, or a claim is improperly denied. In either scenario, an experienced legal professional could contact the L&I office and try to resolve the issue. If an employee calls this office on their own, they might have to reach out multiple times or they might never get a satisfactory response to their inquiry.

Having legal representation is also invaluable if a worker must undergo an Independent Medical Examination (IME). This is a second opinion exam that can be an option if the worker or employer disagrees with the treating physician’s first opinion. IME doctors also give workers their disability ratings. A workers’ compensation attorney in Tacoma could help a worker prepare for an IME and ensure the doctor respects the worker’s right to have another person present and taking notes at the exam.

Contact a Tacoma Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today

If you are having trouble getting the Workers’ Compensation benefits you are entitled to receive, do not try to solve the matter yourself. Turn the issue over to a professional so you can focus on recovering from your injuries.

A Tacoma Workers’ Compensation lawyer has experience representing ill and injured employees in L&I disputes. Reach out today to discuss your case with a seasoned legal team member.