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Washington Workers' Compensation Laws

UPDATED: March 29, 2011

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Washington workers' compensation laws govern injuries and illnesses that result from an employee's duties and that cause him to miss work and lose wages.

Claims under Washington Workers' Compensation Laws

Washington workers' compensation laws cover injuries suffered by employees in work-related accidents. However, if an employee's injuries are self-inflicted, the employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and working at the time of his injury, or the worker is breaking the stated policies of his employer, he may not receive workers' compensation benefits under Washington workers' compensation law.

Additionally, if you become ill because of the duties you perform at work or because of the hazardous conditions at your job, you may be able to get workers' compensation benefits in Washington. Occupational diseases might include black lung, dermatitis, and carpel tunnel syndrome, among others.

Finally, when an employee dies because of his work-related injury or illness, his dependents are entitled to death benefits to make up for his lost wages.

Washington Workers' Compensation Benefits

Healthcare: All medical bills related to your occupational illness or injury will be paid by your employer's insurer or by the Washington State Bureau of Labor and Industry.

Reimbursement of Mileage: The expenses incurred in traveling back and forth to medical appointments for treatment of an injury and the time spent in doctors' appointments may be reimbursable by your employer's insurer if you must go at least 15 miles each way to an appointment.

Death Benefits: Dependents of employees who die because of their work injuries or illnesses are entitled to death benefits and a payment of $3,000 towards the deceased employee's funeral expenses.

Income Benefits: Income replacement benefits make up a large part of many Washington workers' compensation claims. Income replacement benefits are divided into four categories in Washington:

1) Temporary Total Disability Benefits (TTD): The employee's injuries make it impossible for him to work at his old job on a full-time basis. The extent of TTD benefits will be determined based on the marital status of the worker, and whether or not the worker has children to support.

2) Temporary Partial Disability Benefits (TPD): The worker is able to perform some work duties, but not to the same extent or for the same wages as before he was injured or became ill. He will be paid 80% of the difference between his current wage and his weekly wage before he became injured or ill.

3) Permanent Total Disability Benefits (PTD): Available if you are examined and certified as completely disabled (in Washington, defined as having lost the use of both legs or arms, or an arm and a leg).

4) Permanent Partial Disability Benefits (PPD): The worker's injuries or illness have improved to their maximum extent and it is possible for him to do some work, but he cannot return to his old job because of the permanent effects of his injury. The amount of money the worker receives will depend on his PPD rating.

 Washington Workers' Compensation Statutes

In Washington, workers' compensation provisions can be found in the Industrial Insurance section of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW).

Employers Subject To Workers' Compensation: Industrial Insurance, Title 51, Chp. 12; Covered Employees: Industrial Insurance, Title 51, Chp. 12; Benefits: Industrial Insurance, Title 51, Chp. 32, 36; Claims Procedure: Industrial Insurance, Title 51, Chp. 28.

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