Many work injury claimants struggle with their L&I Claim. It’s difficult to understand how claims really work under the hood. What’s going on in your L&I claim, where the claim is heading, and so on. Moreover, many workers don’t know what to do when things don’t go well. What’s worse, when they run into difficulties, they don’t know where to turn for L&I claim help. Obviously, one answer is to talk to an experienced workers compensation attorney. However, in many cases, you don’t need an attorney. There are other resources available out there. These resources can help work injury claimants understand their workers’ compensation claim. On top, they can help you understand the benefits available and your rights. The purpose of this article is to provide a list of the best resources for L&I help. You can use these resources to find help and navigate your L&I claim.
Getting L&I help from your employer
Not all employers have resources to help injured workers. However, many employers do. Often, they can help employees understand what to do after an injury on the job. First, check if you have an organized employer that has policy and employee manuals in place. If you do, it’s likely your employer also has resources for when employees get hurt at work.
If you think your employer may have these kinds of resources available, then ask for them. In fact, even if you don’t know whether your employer might have such resources, it does not hurt to ask. Most likely, employer resources won’t have thorough information. However, they can be a good starting point for understanding your claim. They are also good to get a feel for how your employer will react to your claim.
Are you part of a union? If so, then your union probably has resources and support to help you navigate your L&I claim. If you suffer an injury at work, or develop an occupational disease, you should reach out to your shop steward. Your shop steward can give you information about your L&I claim and your rights as a work injury claimant. Furthermore, they will also tell you about any assistance the union can provide as you navigate your claim.
Early in claims, L&I usually sends work injury claimants brochures or pamphlets. These brochures contain useful information about L&I claims. Read the information in the brochures carefully. Also, keep the brochures and pamphlets someplace safe. This way, you can refer to them later during your workers’ compensation claim.
If you misplace a pamphlet, you can find it here. L&I sends other informational pamphlets at various stages of the claim. They explain the benefits you may be getting. They can help you understand your L&I benefits and other aspects of the claim.
The L&I website
The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) offers a website with tons of information. Admittedly, it can take some time to get used to the website. But, once you do, it offers a wealth of data. In fact, many experienced workers compensation attorneys like me use resources on the L&I website frequently. A good starting place is the “Injured? What you need to know” web page.
L&I help from claim managers and L&I representatives
Many work injury claimants fear their L&I claim manager. It’s true – your claims manager isn’t your advocate. Yet, they can still be a very helpful resource. For me, I find that workers are reluctant to ask their claims manager questions. Some claims managers are better than others at answering questions. But like I said before, it never hurts to try!
Claim managers and other L&I representatives have a lot of knowledge and information about claims. If you ask a question they can’t answer – they will tell you. However, there are many questions that are absolutely appropriate to ask. And remember, if you don’t ask – you’ll never get an answer. In fact, many work injury claimants call my office to schedule a free consultation and ask questions about their L&I claim. Usually, workers can solve their own problems for which they are calling me, and get the answers, by simply asking L&I.
Office of the Ombuds for self-insured injured workers
This section applies to workers with a self-insured employer claim. The Office of the Ombuds advocates for work injury claimants who suffered a workplace injury while working for a self-insured employer. The Office of the Ombuds can answer many questions. Moreover, they can explain your rights as work-injury claimants. In addition, their website contains a lot of useful information for employees. Personally, in my experience, the Office of the Ombuds is also good at letting claimants know they need to speak with an experienced workers compensation attorney. They know how to tell when an issue rises to the level of needing legal intervention.
Project help is an organization that provides assistance for L&I claim matters. They offer L&I help, information, and education. It’s a collaboration between the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, and Washington State L&I. The Project HELP website is another great resource for understanding basic L&I claim procedures. It also provides education and resources for addressing some of the more common issues that arise in claims.
Project HELP also offers education to a variety of professionals in workers compensation. They host an annual Meeting of the Minds educational seminar. I appreciate everything that project HELP is doing. They indeed provide L&I help, as well as resources and education. However, as an attorney who represents work injury claimants, I think it is important to recognize that Project HELP is closely tied to L&I. It’s not a substitute for experienced legal representation when workers need that level of intervention.
L&I help from an experienced workers compensation attorney
Like me, there are many competent and experienced L&I attorneys in Washington State who represent work injury claimants. There are many L&I claim cases that do not require legal intervention. But then again, there are some that do. The two most common circumstances that warrant legal intervention are: (1) When workers need competent advocacy; and (2) When you need to file an L&I claim protest or appeal.
Sometime, work injury claimants are unable to effectively advocate for themselves. That’s one reason they need an attorney. To do that advocacy for them. Additionally, L&I can make a decision that is averse to a work injury claimant. In turn, workers must decide whether to accept, protest or appeal the decision. Analyzing the need to protest or appeal is something that every L&I attorney does daily. Furthermore, if you need to protest or appeal, an experienced L&I attorney knows the exact requirements to meet the burden of proof and prevail.
For advice, most workers compensation attorneys offer complimentary consultations. In my opinion, if you are in doubt and not sure if you need an attorney, make the call and schedule a free consultation. Personally, I rather consult with a work injury claimant and tell them they don’t need my help, than consult with them when it’s too late. In many cases, the damage in their L&I claim has already been done. Then, it’s already too late to fix it.