Did you know the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) provides coverage and benefits following a violent crime? L&I provides this coverage under the Crime Victims Act. It can be extremely helpful to victims with significant injury or limited health insurance. It can also be very useful for families of homicide victims. While there are important differences, the L&I claim process to administer these claims is similar to a workers’ compensation claim.


L&I claim benefits and requirements

Crime victim L&I claim benefits are available to individuals that sustained a physical injury or mental health trauma from a gross misdemeanor or felony crime. Eligibility requires the injury victim or the family of the deceased to: (1) Report the crime to law enforcement; and (2) File a timely application for benefits.


Filing a report and applying for benefits

A necessary first step is filing a police report. Surprisingly, failure to make a police report is one of the most common reasons for L&I to deny a claim. Then, in addition to reporting the crime, the victim must cooperate with the investigation. Timing wise, you must file the report within one year from the date of the crime.


Furthermore, the injury victim (or family of the deceased) must sign and submit an application to L&I. Here, there are different forms available for injury victims versus the family of homicide victim. On top, you have to file the application within two years of the date of the police report. However, in some circumstances L&I may allow you to file the application up to five years. Additionally, for minors, applications are timely if submitted within two years of their 18th birthday. Given all these variances, it’s best to file the police report and application for benefits without delay.


L&I claim payments and limitations

Every L&I claim for crime victims is different. Consequently, L&I pays different benefits based on the facts and circumstances under each claim. Potential benefits include medical, dental and/or mental health treatment (including grief counseling). Moreover, they can include medication, partial wage replacement, and funeral expenses. In some cases, they can also cover expenses such as copays and deductibles. However, L&I does not cover payments for crime scene cleanup, identity theft, or loss of personal property.


The maximum payment amount under an L&I claim for crime victims is $190,000. Yet, other limitations also apply. For example, just like time-loss compensation benefits, wage replacement benefits in a crime victim L&I claim is 60% of the victim’s wages. The maximum dollar amount paid in wage replacement benefits for temporary disability is $15,000. In actuality, this money can be a vital lifeline for recovering victims. If a victim is permanently and totally disabled and cannot return to work, wage replacement benefits are limited to $40,000. Similarly, medical expenses also have limits. More explicitly, $150,000 is the maximum coverage amount for medical and mental health treatment.


Finally, L&I claims for crimes include benefits to families of homicide victims. Family benefits are limited to $40,000. This figure includes a maximum of $6,620 for burial expenses.


Work injury as a result of a crime

In conclusion, if you suffer a crime-related injury while you were working, then you are covered by the Industrial Insurance Act. This is the same law that covers any other work injury claim or workers’ compensation claim in Washington State. Furthermore, this act is not subject to the limitations above, for L&I claims for crime victims. Also, individuals that suffer an injury while committing a felony crime are not eligible for benefits under either act.