An employee who has been injured on the job or suffers from an occupational-related disease can file for workers' compensation benefits in Washington. Filing is the first step an employee must take to receive compensation to cover medical care, lost wages, and other related costs. Most employers in Washington with one or more employees are required by law to provide workers' compensation coverage. An employee's family may file for workers' compensation benefits if the employee was killed on the job.

Steps to take when filing for workers' compensation

  1. Inform your employer. If you are injured at work during working hours, over your lunch break, or while traveling for work, tell your employer as soon as possible. You must also inform your employer if your doctor diagnoses an occupational disease due to exposure to hazardous substances or an occupational medical condition like hearing loss.

  2. Seek medical attention. Your doctor or medical professional will provide the medical information that supports your claim, so it's important to seek care immediately. Make sure you tell your doctor that your injury or illness is job-related. You may see the doctor of your choice.

  3. Get the appropriate paperwork. The forms you file for workers' compensation depend on the insurance your employer provides. If your employer gets workers' compensation insurance through Washington State, you'll file a _ Washington State Fund Report of Industrial Injury or Occupational Disease. If your employer is self-insured, you'll file a _ Self-Insurer Accident Report.

  4. File your report. Washington is a no-fault state, so you may file a report regardless of who was at fault. After you complete the employee information on your report, your doctor adds information about your diagnosis, treatment, and the estimated number of days you'll be unable to work. Your doctor sends the original form within five days to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) and a copy to your employer. Your employer fills out the employer section of the report and sends the copy to L&I. (If your employer is self-insured, your doctor sends the original to your employer.) You have one year from your injury date to file your report. If you have an occupational disease, you have two years from your diagnoses to file your report.

Your rights when filing for workers compensation

The law provides injured workers with many rights, including the following:

Freedom from discrimination. Injured workers can't be fired for filing or planning to file for workers' compensation.

The right to protest or appeal. If you disagree with L&I's decision, you may protest or appeal within 60 days of receiving the department's decision.

The right to an attorney. Although you don't need a lawyer when filing for workers' compensation or when working with your claims manager, you should seek legal counsel if there is any part of your case you don't understand.

Additional resources:

Washington State Department of Labor and Industries: Filing a Claim

Washington Law Help: Workers Rights to Workers Compensation Benefits

Workplace Fairness: Worker's Comp