The advantage of workers compensation benefits is that if you are injured, and you are entitled to workers compensation benefits, those benefits should be paid immediately and you won’t have to wait for the settlement of the third-party tort claim to get money.
Workers compensation benefits normally include both the cost of the medical services rendered to you and your lost wages. Sometimes vocational retraining is paid. However, medical services and wage loss benefits are only paid in accordance with pre-set schedules that establish the amounts that are paid.
The good news is that doctors and medical service providers being paid with these benefits are required to accept the amount that is established, and you don’t have to pay more. The not-so-good news is that you may not receive as much wage loss as the wages that you were earning before you were injured. In some instances, workers compensation benefits include the payment of settlement and pensions upon the close of your workers compensation claim.
Workers compensation claims must be filed within one year of injury. Often this is done by the doctors or medical provider who is treating you. If they know that your injury occurred while you were on the job, these providers are required to notify the state and their compensation is limited to the workers compensation benefits that are paid.
Doctors are required to furnish you with the claim form. However, you should see that it is submitted to the state or a self-insurer yourself, and you should check with the state or the self-insurer to see that it was received. These are steps that should be taken, at a minimum, to protect yourself if you are not being represented by a lawyer for your workers compensation claim:
1. File the workers’ compensation claim within one year.
2. Tell your doctor that the injury occurred on the job. If the doctor feels there is an on-the-job injury, the doctor is required to provide you with a claim form and provide assistance filling it out. The doctor is also required to mail the form to the Department of Labor & Industries on Washington claims. If the employer is self-insured, you will need to contact the employer, ask for an Accident Report form, and return the completed form to the employer.
3. Once you and your doctor have completed the form, you need to check with the Department of Labor and Industries of the State of Washington (Washington Claims) in about a week to make sure that the application was received within a year of the injury.
The key to knowing when you absolutely need to hire a workers compensation attorney is when the state or a self-insurer starts to deny or take away benefits. You need to do the following to protect your rights:
1. Look in the mail or your email for letters or orders taking action on your claim, usually limiting or terminating some or all of your workers compensation benefits. If Sellers Law Office is handling your third-party tort claim, you must notify that office immediately. If James L. Sellers is your personal injury attorney who is handling your third-party tort claim, his office will tell you what to do or it will associate a workers compensation lawyer, or refer you to one.
2. If you disagree with the action being taken, you must write a letter stating your disagreement and put it into the U.S. mail to the address given on the order and within the time limits set forth in the order. Most State orders have a 60-day deadline to protest or appeal. The one exception is for vocational determinations (i.e., a letter denying retraining), which has a 15-day deadline. Each order must advise you how long you have to protest or appeal the order.
3. If you have a workers compensation lawyer, tell the lawyer and he/she will handle the protest or appeal of the action that was taken. If James L. Sellers is your personal injury attorney who is handling your third-party tort claim, his office will tell you what to do or it will associate a workers compensation lawyer, or refer you to one.
Compensation for workers injuries
If you have been injured while working, you may be entitled to compensation. You need an experienced lawyer acting on your behalf to protect your rights. It costs you nothing to contact me to arrange a consultation to review the circumstances of the case. You can call (360) 980-1105. or you can email me online here.