What language do you speak? Español? русский? Tiếng Việt? Qué idioma hablas? на каком языке ты говоришь? Bạn nói tiếng gì? Did you know that L&I pays for interpreters during medical or vocational services to injured workers and crime victims who have open and allowed claims?


How to get an interpreter for my L&I claim?

Medical practices receiving Federal funding are legally required to provide interpretation services to patients who need it. Consequently, when medical or vocational providers feel an injured worker needs interpretation services, they can reach out to the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I). In turn, L&I will arrange interpretation services and will also cover those costs. L&I does not decide whether an injured worker needs an interpreter. Instead, L&I leaves that determination to medical and vocational providers. If a medical or vocational provider determines that interpretation services are warranted, L&I will provide those services without pre-authorization.


If injured workers feel they may experience language barriers or that they can facilitate claim-related communications better with the help of an interpreter, then I strongly encourage injured workers to ask their medical and vocational providers for help with interpretation. In my experience, it is not uncommon for injured workers with difficulties communicating in English to ask a friend or family member to assist. Yet, it is important to note that L&I does not require the medical provider or vocational providers to use the interpreter that arrives with the injured worker.


Video and phone interpretation for workers’ compensation claims

The L&I website contains helpful information to assist providers in understanding how to arrange video, over-the-phone, or face-to-face interpretation services. Video interpretation is a relatively new service from L&I and their current vendor offers video interpreting for most commonly used languages. Phone interpretation is a versatile service with interpreters in over 200 languages available within minutes via a toll-free number. Each toll free number may be different based on the type of claim. Finally, for face-to-face interpretation, L&I provides an Interpreter Lookup Service on their website. All face-to-face interpreters are expected to adhere to a professional code of conduct. The code governs what they may and may not do, and requires them to maintain strict confidentiality, impartiality, accuracy, completeness, and competency.


Recommendations and conclusions

To ensure appropriate case and optimal resolution of the L&I claim or self-insured workers’ compensation claim, it is important that injured workers are able to communicate effectively with treatment and vocational providers. The interpretation services offered by L&I are versatile, useful, and important for ensuring that claims are progressing appropriately. They also help injured workers understand recommendations and requirements for remaining in compliance with medical treatment and forward progress of the claim.