Workers Compensation - Washington

Tara Reck, Managing L&I Attorney at Reck Law PLLC - Workers' Compensation Attorneys

Workers Compensation Attorney and L&I Lawyer

Thank you for visiting my blog. My name is Tara Reck and I am a managing attorney at Reck Law, PLLC. Our Workers’ Compensation and L&I attorneys are dedicated 100% to representing injured workers in Washington State. We have several offices in the Puget Sound area and we represent injured workers all over the state.


If you need help with your L&I claim, self-insured employer claim, or any other workers’ compensation or work injury claim, please give us a call to schedule a free consultation. We help with claim management, appeals and litigation with L&I and the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, Washington State Superior Court, Court of Appeals, and Washington State Supreme Court, as needed.


   

Send me a message

Call for free consultation

 
Reck Law, PLLC – Office Locations
Seattle & Bellevue

2731 77th Ave SE #203
Mercer Island, WA 98040

Map and directions

(206) 395-6141
Tacoma

2367 Tacoma Ave S #110
Tacoma, WA 98402

Map and directions

(253) 999-9828
Renton

707 S Grady Way #600 Suite R
Renton, WA 98057

Map and directions

(425) 800-8195
Port Orchard

219 Prospect St
Port Orchard, WA 98366

Map and directions

(360) 876-4123
 

Passionate About Helping Injured Workers in Washington State? We Are Hiring!

Our law firm, Reck Law – Workers’ Compensation Attorneys, is adding two motivated individuals to our hard-working team. At Reck Law, we strive to achieve the best outcomes for the injured workers we represent all over Washington State. We do it through fierce advocacy at all levels of the L&I claim and self-insured employer claim process, from administration to litigation.

 

Entry level paralegal or legal assistant

We are preparing for the upcoming retirement of one of our most cherished paralegals. Therefore, we are looking for a new entry level paralegal or legal assistant to join our team. The most critical characteristic for this position is a genuine desire to help people after, particularly after a work injury. The second most critical characteristic is a strong work ethic and commitment to being a good team member. You must also be able to pay close attention to detail. Our team is vibrant and energetic. We have a lot of fun working together. We are looking for a new team member that can fit in and contribute to our work culture.

 

This entry level position requires close collaboration with other members of our team, which include senior paralegals and attorneys. Here, daily activities include regularly reviewing L&I claim file materials and completing and submitting necessary paperwork. It also includes preparing and processing a variety of correspondence and following up on requests and inquiries. Moreover, you’ll be taking and responding to client calls, and maintain a personal system for tracking tasks and deadlines. If you would like to learn more, please email office@recklaw.com for details on the application and interview process.

 

Entry level associate attorney

Most of our litigation work takes place before the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals. By far, the topmost requirement for this position is your passion to help people following a work injury to get their life back on track. After that, the second requirement is your unquestionable work ethic and your commitment to winning cases. If you think you have what it takes, this position offers a rare opportunity to train and mentor under one of the top workers’ compensation attorneys in Washington State. On top, you’ll have the opportunity to engage in all aspects of BIIA litigation from day one.

 

You will learn how to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of each case. You’ll develop successful litigation strategies. Litigation before the Board requires reviewing claim file materials in detail and understanding the issues under appeal. Furthermore, it requires identifying elements required to meet the burden of proof on each issue, being involved in preparing and responding to discovery requests, and preparing and responding to pre and post hearing pleadings. Moreover, it involves witness preparation, presenting compelling lay and expert testimony, and effective cross examination of lay and expert witnesses. If you would like to be considered, please email us at office@recklaw.com to inquire about the application and interview process.

 

Personal note from the managing attorney

Workers’ compensation isn’t easy. It’s a labor of love. However, in our experience, most people don’t realize they’re going to love it until they do. We work hard, we’re scrappy, and we have A LOT of fun. Our work environment is hyper-energetic, no BS and no drama. We pride ourselves on having a healthy work life balance. Finally, at Reck Law, we don’t discriminate. Come join us.

 

Workers’ Compensation Appeals: How Long Will My L&I Claim Appeal Take?

The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) decides when work injury claimants receive benefits under their L&I claim. When L&I makes a decision about entitlement, the decision is usually in writing. Frequently, the decision is labeled “Notice of Decision”. However, decisions can also be under “Payment Order”, “Wage Order”, or any other written document.

 

L&I claim protest versus claim appeal

Any party that disagrees with a written decision can protest or appeal it. For jurisdiction, a protest stays with L&I. However, an appeal takes the disagreement to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals (BIIA). In fact, there are many reasons a claim protest may be strategically better than an appeal, and vice versa.

 

I get questions about protests and appeals regularly. The most common question is: How long will it take to get a decision? Often times, L&I makes decisions following a protest very quickly. Surprisingly, sometimes I receive decisions just days after filing my client’s claim protest. When this happens, it makes me wonder whether L&I really took the time to fully reconsider if the decision is correct. In contrast, I’ve seen cases where L&I protests have gone months and even years without checking or addressing them. Yet, there’s some good news. With some prompting and nudging, the Department of Labor and Industries usually acts on protests relatively quickly.

 

Workers’ compensation claim appeal in Washington State

L&I appeals are different. First, the Board of Industrial Insurance conducts a mediation process. There, one or more mediation conferences take place, where the parties discuss and try to reach resolution without litigation. Afterwards, if mediation does not produce an acceptable outcome, then the case advances to litigation.

 

If the parties cannot agree or settle the claim, then it usually takes much longer to get a decision in an appeal. That’s because appeal hearings are essentially a legal proceeding. The appealing party has the burden of proving that L&I’s decision is wrong. This requires that party to present testimonies. Therefore, there can be significant costs associated with an L&I claim appeal under this path. For most benefits, at least some of the testimony must come from experts like doctors, therapists, and vocational counselors. This presentation of testimony takes time.

 

Board appeal and petition under a work injury claim

Once the parties finish presenting their evidence, the hearing judge reviews and compiles all the materials. Then, the judge issues a written Proposed Decision and Order. The decision contains findings of fact and conclusions of law for each issue in the appeal. Furthermore, any party that disagrees with the Proposed Decision and Order may file a Petition for Review. The goal of the petition is to ask the Board of Appeals to review the decision. Afterwards, if the Board grants the review, it must issue a follow-on Decision and Order. Once again, the Decision and Order comprises findings of fact and conclusions of law.

 

Work injury client representation and challenges

Personally, it’s important for me that people that suffer an injury at work have realistic expectations. Clients must understand how much time claim appeals can take. It’s particularly important because many injured workers are without money or access to claim medical treatment during the appeal.

 

I used to tell work injury clients that claim appeals could take as much as a full year. That’s from the time we file an appeal until we receive a decision. Recently, that estimation has changed dramatically. Currently, it seems that the Board of Appeals is backlogged. It appears they have challenges issuing written decisions. Some of my client cases are waiting 150 days or more for a written decision. Therefore, right now it’s very difficult for me to give accurate estimates.

 

I’m deeply concerned about the length of time for L&I claim appeals. Remember, many work injury claimants do not have access to financial or medical benefits during the process. Many are barely making it through.

 

L&I Claim for COVID

I’ve been getting lots of questions about work-related COVID L&I claims. How do I get compensation if I caught COVID at my workplace? What if my family member died after getting COVID at work? Unsurprisingly, lately I see more and more L&I claims involving workers that got the Coronavirus at work. And even more sadly, in some cases, employees passed away after contracting COVID at their workplace.

 

L&I claim after contracting COVID at work

The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) is processing many COVID-19 L&I claims on the basis of the Health Emergency Labor Standards Act (HELSA). Interestingly, this Act became law on May 11, 2021. Furthermore, according to the Act, for frontline workers, there’s a presumption that contracting any infectious or contagious disease like COVID during a declared public health emergency constitutes an occupational disease under the Industrial Insurance Act.

 

However, a worker must meet the legal definition of frontline worker to be eligible for the presumption. On top, workers and employees must provide verification that they contracted the infectious disease. Additionally, HELSA imposes some requirements from employers. For example, requiring larger employers to notify L&I if an outbreak occurs involving 10 or more workers. There are also prohibitions on discriminating against high-risk workers, and a duty to notify workers of known exposure to the disease.

 

 

COVID and Coronavirus at work

The occupational disease presumption for frontline workers is rebuttable. Employers can rebut it by showing:

(a) That the exposure occurred from some other employment or non-employment activities; or

(b) That just prior to contracting the disease, the worker was working from home, on leave, or a combination of the two, for the period of quarantine consistent with state and federal guidance.

L&I has been allowing the vast majority of COVID workers’ compensation claims it receives, under HELSA. Consequently, some employers started appealing these Coronavirus workers’ compensation claims. On appeal, these employers will have the burden of proving that one of the rebuttal circumstances applies.

 

COVID L&I claim appeal and Board of Industrial Insurance

It feels like COVID has been around for a very long time. However, appeals involving COVID cases under HELSA are still very new. We don’t yet know how the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals (BIIA) and higher courts will interpret HELSA and apply it to the fact of each case. There are going to be several key issues in these COVID L&I claim appeal instances. Lack of testing available in the early months of COVID is one. Also, variable reliability of COVID tests is another. On top, there’s non-work activities and interactions. Finally, there’s the question of whether workers meet the legal definition of frontline workers.

 

The fact that people had wildly different experiences of severity and recovery from Coronavirus will surely lead to additional complexities. I expect these complexities to arise in both COVID L&I claim appeal and overall COVID claim administration. Sadly, cases involving workers who died after contracting COVID are likely to be highly contested given the significant benefits that could become available to survivors and dependents.

 

What’s next for HELSA and COVID claims?

We cannot fully predict how HELSA will be interpreted and how appeals to COVID claim allowance will play out. However, what is certain is that these cases are being appealed. They are being tried by attorneys with vast skill and experience in workers compensation representing employers. Workers, survivors and their dependents who are facing an employer appeals to claim allowance should take the time to consult with an experienced plaintiff-side workers’ compensation attorney.

 

« Older posts