Workers Compensation - Washington

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

Month: December 2018 (page 2 of 2)

Poor Service from USPS Results in Major Issues for Workers’​ Compensation Clients

In workers’ compensation when injured workers hire an attorney, all claim related correspondence comes through the law office. This includes checks for time-loss compensation benefits, regardless of whether any fees are deducted from those checks. Until recently our office received all correspondence at our physical address in Port Orchard. The result was inconsistent delivery times. Some days mail would arrive by 10 am and others not until after 4 pm. More often than not, it was the later. Late mail delivery impacts our productivity because it gives us less time to review and respond to incoming correspondence. It also forces clients to wait, sometimes for hours, for mail containing their checks to arrive.

 

Our solution was to rent a post office box where our mail would be deposited by 11 am. With reliability and consistency of mail delivery, we would increase our productivity and provide better service to clients. We thought. After a tedious process of getting Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) to acknowledge our address change, our hopes of reliable mail service were dashed. We opened an empty post office box that we expected to be full. After waiting in long holiday lines at the post office, we learned that the post office couldn’t locate the PO Box they assigned us. They returned our mail as undeliverable back to L&I. They assured us the situation would be rectified. But it was not.

 

We had to go back to the post office to speak with the post master general. We were getting call after call from L&I informing us that our mail was being returned as undeliverable. Imagine my frustration and disbelief when the postmaster himself could not find the PO Box they had assigned us. Because it was mislabeled on the inside.

 

I feel terrible for my clients that are awaiting checks in this holiday season. I wish my attempts to provide them with better services hadn’t turned out so poorly. More than anything, I hope for a very full PO Box this week.

Injured Workers Trying to Find Attending Physicians

Last Friday, my work week ended on a familiar note. Trying to reassure injured workers who can’t find attending physicians (APs). In my opinion, we have a real problem in Washington State finding willing APs. Particularly for older L&I claims or for injured workers with multiple claims.

 

The law allows injured workers to designate an AP of their choosing. This is important since an injured worker needs to be comfortable enough with their AP to place full trust in that provider and their medical advice. Having multiple providers decline the AP role is upsetting for injured workers. When the Department of Labor and Industries starts sending letters directing them to designate an AP, the situation only gets worse.

 

Attorneys should not meddle in the patient physician relationship, so I don’t have a list of doctors in my hip pocket ready and willing to do my bidding. However, when a workers’ compensation claim is in jeopardy, I think it is my responsibility to write letters, forward medical records, and even meet with doctors to help my clients obtain APs. If the matter ends up in litigation, certainly the question will be asked about whether I had any hand in my client establishing care with a particular physician. After conversations like the ones I had today, there are simply no alternative but to do what is best for my client.

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