As a workers’ compensation attorney, the most common question I get is: “What mistakes should I not make in my L&I claim?”. There is no easy answer for this question. Interestingly, while there’s a clear definition for potential L&I claim benefits, there is no list of potential pitfalls.
Every L&I claim is different
Generally speaking, the administration process for every workers’ compensation claim in Washington State follows certain administrative codes. However, every claim is individual and different. Every work injury or work-related disease has its own challenges. Similarly, every claim outcome is ultimately unique to the person that suffered the work injury. However, from my experience as an L&I attorney, here are a few tips I can offer for avoiding common mistakes and keeping your workman’s comp claim on track.
Use common sense
Throughout your L&I claim process, you will need to make many decisions and response to communications. Therefore, it’s very important to use common sense. You should do what is logical. Frequently, I see that people get very anxious and worry about not messing up their work injury claim. Meanwhile, they forget to be logical. You must avoid this common mistake. If it helps, take a step back and think about the big picture. If you use common sense and remain logical, that’s probably the easiest way to keep your workers’ comp claim on track.
The first and most important thing in an L&I claim is to focus on your recovery. Let’s be honest: Whether you got hurt on the job or developed an illness at work, you want to recover. Nothing is more important than your health. Realistically, if you let other claim issues get in the way, it can distract or even derail your path to recovery. I sometimes see work injury claimants prioritize the handling of their claim over their personal health, which may lead to unfortunate outcomes.
It’s extremely important to pay attention to everything that is going on in your workers’ compensation claim. I am well-aware that keeping track of all the small details can feel like a full-time job. However, it’s not helpful to ignore certain steps or bury your head in the sand. In fact, it’s necessary to know what’s happening in your claim so that you can follow through and take appropriate actions. Monitoring your L&I claim progress will also help you spot red flags early. It’s critical to read notices and decisions from the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) and address any issues while you still have time.
Ask for help
Most importantly – don’t wait too long to ask for help. Many work injury claimants may never need help from an L&I attorney. However, that isn’t true for everyone. If certain issues arise in your claim, then don’t delay asking for help. Specifically, if an issue in your case is heading to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals (i.e., BIIA or Board), it is advisable to speak with a workers’ comp attorney immediately. Appeals before the Board have timelines and certain litigation schedules. Waiting too long to contact an attorney can make it difficult for any lawyer to get involved. Remember, your attorney will need time to get up to speed or to provide meaningful advice. Moreover, if you are looking for a workers’ compensation attorney, it’ll take them time to prepare a winning case.
In summary, when you have an L&I claim, there’s no concrete list of black and white rules to follow. However, I always recommend people to remember the key principles above. Use common sense and focus on recovery. Over time, follow closely and pay attention to what is happening in your claim. Finally (and arguably most importantly), do not delay asking for help.