What’s the value of my L&I claim? What’s my workers’ compensation case worth? I get these questions all the time. And, my answer is always the same: “It depends”. For a better answer, it’s important to review the value of your L&I claim benefits.
What is the value of my workers’ compensation claim?
Knowing the value of your workers’ compensation claim or L&I claim in Washington State is tough. Calculating it isn’t easy. Remember- first you have to file your claim. Then, if the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) allows it, you may receive various L&I claim benefits. Some of these benefits have a monetary value. Furthermore, the value is unique to each L&I claim because every claim is different.
The purpose of this article is to help you figure out the potential value of all available benefits. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. There is no formula to calculate the exact value of your workers’ compensation claim. But, if you want to get a rough estimate, you can sum up the total value of all L&I claim benefits.
L&I claim benefits: Medical treatment
It’s very difficult to put a dollar amount on the value of medical treatment. For many, and in my opinion as well, it is invaluable. Generally, if your claim has been allowed, then L&I (or the self-insured employer) will cover your medical bills and expenses. That is, so long that the treatment is for conditions that relate to your work injury claim.
It is important to keep in mind that certain treatment recommendations must go through an authorization process. However, once you receive authorization, then L&I will cover your treatment 100%. This means that there are no out-of-pocket expenses. For example, co-pays or deductibles. It’s also reassuring knowing that you have a path to medical recovery. It’s always good to know that L&I will cover your medical bills for your L&I claim treatment.
Time-Loss Compensating – a key benefit
Say that you have an L&I claim. Also, say that L&I already allowed your claim. In addition, let’s assume that you’re unable to work. Then, you are eligible for monetary wage replacement benefits. Time loss compensation (TLC) is one such benefit. It’s what you get when you are temporarily incapable of working.
Your time loss wage rate is based on what you were making at the time you got injured at work. A single male of female individual with no dependents receives 60% of their wage. For time-loss calculations, take the 60% at the time you got hurt on the job. If you are married or have children, then you’ll receive a higher percentage.
Loss of Earning Power under an L&I claim
In some cases, after a work injury, some people are still able to work with limitations. For example, some work injury claimants can work less hours than before. Others might perform a light duty job that pays less than their job of injury. If you can after your injury, and your new salary is lower than before – you’ll receive compensation for lost wages.
Loss of Earning Power (LEP) covers this situation. It’s an L&I benefit. L&I pays it when you’re doing limited work that results in 5% (or more) decrease in your wage-earning capacity. This is a significant monetary value in any workers compensation claim. The specific value varies from individual to individual. As explained earlier, it all depends on your earnings at the time of injury at work or occupational disease manifestation.
Vocational services in L&I workers compensation claims
Some people are permanently incapable of returning to your work. If you are one, you can be eligible for retraining. If L&I approves your retraining, they will pay for your retraining program for up to two years. The total cost is approximately $18,000. But that’s not all. In addition to the $18,000 cost of retraining, L&I will pay time-loss compensation benefits. L&I will pay it throughout your entire retraining program.
The topic of vocational services in workers compensation claims is very broad. It is also very complex. There are many steps and services. You can read about important topics relating to vocations services by following the resources below:
1) Option 1 vs Option 2
2) Vocational services plan development
3) Job analysis
as well as many others. You can also refer to the high-level summary of vocational services in L&I workers compensation claims.
Permanent Partial Disability in L&I claim
Permanent partial disability (PPD) refers to loss of bodily function because of a work injury or work illness. The degree to which you lose bodily function is what we call PPD rating. In this context, you have to go through a PPD rating exam by a qualified medical professional.
There are many rules in PPD rating exams. Say that your permanent condition if for parts of the body that can be amputated. For example, an arm or a leg. Here, the PPD rating is based on percentage of loss of function. Then, there are parts of the body that cannot be amputated. For instance, the spine or mental health disability. In such cases, the PPD rating is based on levels called “categories of impairment”. These categories, and other rules and guidelines, are available in the Washington Administrative Code (WAC).
Either way, a doctor will try to assess the loss of your body function. For that, the examining doctor compares your condition with the condition described in the categories. Then, the doctor selects the category that best describes your level of impairment. The monetary value of the PPD is based on a PPD award schedule. The PPD award schedule is available on the L&I website.
Permanent Total Disability is an important L&I benefit
Total disability is a physical or mental impairment that prevents you from working. Usually, medical professionals or vocational counselors decide if you can work. If your disability prevents you from returning to work in the foreseeable future – we refer to it as Total Disability. L&I considers it to be a permanent condition.
With total disability, you must obtain an opinion from a medical provider. The provider will establish the likelihood that your disability will continue to impact your ability to work in the future. If you are indeed permanently totally disabled (PTD), then you’ll probably receive a pension under your L&I claim.
Pension in L&I claims
An L&I pension means that you receive monthly payments for the remainder of your life. L&I will send you payments so long as you cannot, and do not, return to work. As before, your pension payments depend on the amount you were earning before the injury. The pension benefit provides a source of income for people with severe injuries that can never return to work.