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

Category: PPD (Page 2 of 8)

Consulting with L&I Attorney in Washington State: Don’t Wait Too Long!

Many L&I attorneys in Washington State that represent work injury claimants offer free consultation. Personally, I’d much rather talk to a work injury claimant early in the claim. For me, it’s far better to tell people they don’t need an attorney rather than wait until their work injury claim gets completely out of control. Therefore, I think it’s a good idea to schedule an L&I attorney consultation whenever you feel there are red flags in your workers’ compensation claim. This applies to both L&I claim matters or self-insured employer claim as with a Sedgewick claim (and others).


L&I attorney – Should I consult with one?

If you have an upcoming consultation with a workers’ compensation attorney, you can take steps to make it more productive. Explicitly, these steps include preparing for the meeting, answering questions that the attorney asks you, and listening carefully with an open mind. The first step is to prepare for the L&I attorney consultation. Often, a free consultation with a workers’ compensation lawyer is approximately 30 minutes long. Therefore, the L&I lawyer needs to collect important information in a short time. To help, make sure to equip yourself with basic information. For example, your claim number, date of injury, and current claim status. It’ll help the L&I attorney get information quickly. That way, you and the attorney can spend most of the consultation discussing more pertinent issues.


L&I attorney consultation and answering questions

In my experience, work injury claimants often want to describe the abuses they experience in their L&I claim. For instance, people often complain about poor communication, excessive delays, and employer misconduct. Furthermore, many people are upset about negative or aggressive comments from their treatment provider, claim manager, and vocational counselor. L&I claims are hard for everyone. I know. We see these misbehaviors towards injured workers all the time. However, is this the best use of your consultation time while speaking to an L&I attorney?



Remember, the main goal of the L&I claim consultation is to identify legal issues that need attention. By far, the easiest way to do it is to ask work injury claimants very specific questions. Make sure you’re carefully listening to every question. Then, provide complete but concise answers to enable the L&I attorney to cover more issues. This way, it’ll help the attorney make a better assessment regarding representation.


Speaking with an lawyer while keeping an open mind

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation out there regarding L&I claims. It’s difficult for people after a workplace injury to digest the fact that things may be different than they thought. However, you must remember that the Industrial Insurance Act provides many benefits and protection after a workplace injury or work sickness.


An L&I attorney with proven experience will be looking at your claim from all angles. The goal for a good workers’ comp attorney is to ensure that the system is treating you fairly after your workplace injury. Therefore, it’s important to maintain an open mind. Do not get upset with new information or questions. Answer questions directly, and the best of your ability. Things aren’t always exactly as you expect them. Recall, the attorney’s job is to help you. Therefore, be open and let the L&I attorney find the best way to navigate the conversation.


L&I claim consultation – Get ready

In summary, I strongly believe that it’s a good idea to consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer any time you have concerns. If you don’t understand what’s happening in you claim, or if something is going wrong, then call an L&I attorney. Most worker’s comp attorneys offer free consultations. However, it’s important for consultations to be efficient. For that, be sure to prepare for your consultation by following these simple steps:

  • Don’t wait too long to speak to an L&I attorney
  • Come prepared with information such as claim number, date of injury, and claim status
  • Listen to the attorney’s questions
  • Answer the questions directly to make best use of your consultation time
  • Listen and keep an open mind

What Is the Best Outcome for My L&I claim?

Work injury claimants frequently ask me about their L&I claim outcome. Following a work injury, most people with a workers’ compensation claim want to get the best outcome possible. With L&I claims, there are certain benefits available. However, from my perspective, the best outcome is securing the appropriate benefits. Furthermore, the appropriate benefits vary and depend on the facts of each workman’s comp claim. Below is a breakdown of circumstances and possible claim outcome.


Benefits in L&I claims

Generally, the first step in your claim is for the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) to allow your claim. Then, there are several benefits available once the claim is allowed. Medical treatment is perhaps the most important benefits. On top, there are financial benefits such as time loss compensation, loss of earning power benefits (LEP), and permanent partial disability award. After that, there are vocational benefits, claim pension, and in some cases a comprehensive claim settlement.


What is the best outcome for my L&I claim?

Considering the above benefits, let’s explore several scenarios and possible outcomes. For example, what is the best outcome for an injured worker who makes full recovery and has no permanent loss of function? Most likely, the best outcome is to ensure that L&I pays all treatment costs and the appropriate time loss or loss of earning power benefits while the claim is open.


Now, let’s consider the following case. What’s the best outcome for workers with permanent measurable loss of function that can return to their job of injury? Or to another job for which they already have the necessary skills? Here, the best outcome is probably to ensure that L&I pays all treatment costs, as well as time-loss or LEP. Additionally, when the claim closes, L&I should rate the work injury claimant for permanent partial disability (PPD). The rating should be done by a competent medical professional. Finally, the rating will result in a monetary permanent partial disability payout.


Best L&I claim outcome for workers that need retraining

In the cases we described above, the work injury claimant can return to work without retraining. However, what is the best outcome for someone who has permanent measurable residuals but needs retraining to return to work? Likely, the best outcome is to ensure payment for treatment costs, and proper payments for time-loss and LEP benefits. However, in this case, it’s imperative to ensure that the work injury claimant receives vocational services while the claim is open. In fact, L&I can provide up to two years of vocational retraining under the claim. Then, assuming retraining is successful, L&I should rate the injured worker for PPD at claim closure. In turn, the worker should receive the proper PPD payment.



Best L&I claim outcome for workers that cannot return to work

Next, there are workers’ comp claim cases where the work injury claimant cannot return to work. For these situations, people ask: What’s the best outcome for someone with permanent loss of body function who may or may not be capable of working? Here, as before, we need to ensure that L&I covers treatment, medical costs, and PPD or LEP payouts. Then, ask yourself if you’re 50 years old (or older), and if you may not return to work as a result of your work injury or workplace disease. If the answer is Yes, then you should consider a comprehensive settlement. Usually, this type of workers’ comp claim settlement results in a larger payout than PPD alone.


Finally, what’s the best outcome for a work injury claimant who has such significant permanent loss of function that they will never be capable of working again? First, we need to ensure that treatment costs, time-loss, and LEP are all paid. However, if a person is so disabled that they are permanently incapable of working, they should probably receive a L&I claim pension. An L&I pensions is frequently considered the most significant monetary benefit in L&I claims. It’s roughly equivalent to receiving time loss for the remainder of your life, or as long as the inability to work continues.


Closing remarks

Obviously, there are a variety of potential outcomes in workers’ compensation claims. To determine the best outcome, you must carefully assess the facts and circumstances of your workers’ compensation claim. Every claim is different. The unique scenarios and conditions for each individual claim will dictate its best outcome.


Claim closure – What does claim closure mean?

People with an L&I claim in Washington State tend to have lots of questions about claim closure. Some of the most common questions I get are: Why is my claim closed? What does closure mean? What if my condition gets worse after my workers’ compensation claim closes? Did I get everything I was supposed to? What if I disagree with L&I closing my claim?


Every L&I claim is unique

Every work injury and workman’s comp claim are unique. As a result, people have different questions about their specific situation. Therefore, it’s very difficult to give general answers that apply to everyone. Sure, there are some high-level pieces of information that apply to all. However, a general answer might not fit your L&I claim circumstances. Either way, it’s always a good idea to consult with an L&I attorney or a workers’ compensation attorney before your claim closure becomes final.


My claim closed – What does closure mean?

The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) closes claims after treatment completes and after they determine your return to work or employability status. Once a workers’ comp claim closes, work injury claimants cannot receive any more benefits under the claim. Specifically, your L&I claim no longer pays for medical treatment and medication. Furthermore, L&I stops paying benefits like time loss compensation and loss of eating power (LEP). Finally, L&I stops providing services such as vocational counseling or guidance. However, if L&I decides you are permanently and totally disabled, you will receive monthly L&I claim pension benefits after the claim closes.


What if my condition gets worse after my claim closed?

The most common concern I hear from clients is about worsening medical condition. Here, there are some good news – You can reopen an L&I claim! To do it, you must show objective worsening that relate to the medical conditions under your L&I claim. Practically speaking, you must show that you need further medical treatment. Alternatively, you can show that your disability is worse than before. Then, there are slightly different rules for mental health conditions. For example, with mental health claims, objective worsening isn’t a prerequisite. Yet, it’s still mandatory to have an expert medical opinion on worsening before L&I reopens your claim.


If you reopen your workers’ compensation claim after 7 years, then you might be able to receive all types of benefits. After 7 years, you can still reopen your L&I claim, but only for medical treatment. Even then, you can ask the L&I Director to exercise discretion and grant additional benefits.


Did I get everything I deserve?

This is the most challenging claim closure question to answer. Every work injury has different circumstances. Consequently, there are different benefits under every claim. Benefits can include medical treatment, time loss compensation, and loss of earning power. There can also be vocational services and retraining benefits. Sometimes, permanent partial disability awards and permanent total disability might apply. If you’re not sure you received the benefits you deserve, you should speak with a workers’ compensation attorney.


What if I disagree with closing my claim?

Many work injury victims disagree with their workers’ comp claim closure. If you are one of them, you must protest L&I’s decision within 60 days. However, if L&I affirms its decision, you can submit an appeal to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals (BIIA). If you do, make sure you have strong medical (and sometimes vocational) evidence to show that claim closure is wrong.


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