Workers' compensation pays for medical care for work-related injuries or illnesses. If your worker is unable to work after their injury, they may also be eligible for a portion of their lost wages. Most importantly, L&I can help you coordinate a safe and timely return to work for your worker.

Workers injured in Washington have the right to file a claim with us, and we will determine if they are under Washington coverage. If you bring workers into Washington, see Out-of-state workers coming into Washington.

Washington workers don’t lose their right to benefits when they travel for work. Your Washington workers should file their claims with us, no matter where they are injured, see Out-of-State Injured Workers.

Even before a claim is filed, there are two very important things you can do immediately. See Get Your Worker Medical Help, and Next Steps.

Get your worker medical help

Make sure you have first aid available at your workplace. Many falls, cuts, and sprains can become serious injuries if they aren’t treated. All employers in Washington are required to provide a first-aid kit. If further treatment is necessary, send your worker to the emergency room or health care provider of their choice and make sure they tell the doctor they were injured at work.

Important: Employers by law MUST report to L&I the death or in-patient hospitalization of any worker (within 8 hours) and any non-hospitalized amputation or loss of eye (within 24 hours) due to an on-the-job injury by calling 1-800-423-7233.


Get your worker medical help

Emergency medical care

Call 911 immediately if there's an emergency on-the-job injury. L&I will pay for the first medical appointment and an ambulance, if needed.

Non-emergency medical care

Encourage your employee to get medical treatment even if the injury doesn't require emergency care. L&I will pay for the initial visit for any on-the-job injury.

What to expect from your worker’s medical provider

The doctor will:

  • Certify whether your worker’s injury is work-related
  • Help your worker file a workers’ compensation claim
  • Work with your worker to decide when they can return to work
  • Recommend any further treatment they may need

You may contact the medical provider after they treat your worker to request information about work restrictions. For workers’ compensation claims and related medical records, you have the right to contact the medical provider directly.

If your worker needs medical care after the first visit

For your worker’s second visit and beyond, your worker will need to see a provider in our network. If their regular health care provider is not in our network, your worker may choose a new one with our Find a Doctor lookup tool.

Your worker has the right to choose their doctor and also to decide who, if anyone, they want to accompany them to the doctor. Your worker has the right to decline to have the company nurse or any employer representative accompany them to the hospital, doctor, or any other medical visit.

  • You cannot discourage a worker from filing a claim, or seeking medical attention
  • You cannot pay for the worker’s medical treatment yourself instead of filing a claim with L&I
  • You cannot discriminate or retaliate against your worker for filing a claim
  • You may protest a claim you believe was filed in error or if the worker is not your worker
    Go to Protest or Appeal a Claim Decision to understand your protest and appeal rights as an employer

Next steps
Before the claim has been filed
  • Make sure your worker receives prompt medical attention
  • Keep your workers safe and away from any hazards
  • Document how the injury happened
    • Interview witnesses
    • Take photographs
    • Keep a written record
  • Plan ahead if you will be using our Return to Work and Stay at Work programs to help your worker heal and return to work faster and potentially reduce the impact of a claim on your account.
After the claim has been filed
  • Complete the employer section of the report of accident either by mail or online at File Employer's Report of Accident. Make sure to include:
    • Accurate wage information
    • Where the injury happened
    • The last day your worker was able to work their regular job duties
    • If you intend to protest this claim
  • Stay involved in your worker's claim. You are an interested party in the claim and have access to any and all documents related to this injury.
    • Open and read any mail you receive regarding this claim, some types of mail called “orders” have strict deadlines on when we must receive information or a protest.
  • Use the Claim & Account Center to help you:
    • Check the status of your worker's claim
    • Send your worker's claim manager secure messages
    • Sign up for e-correspondence to decrease paper copies of claim mail

My worker can’t do their regular job due to their injury

If your worker has job restrictions, their medical provider will explain them on the Activity Prescription Form (F242 385 000).

If your worker can't do their regular job while recovering, you may offer transitional or light-duty work within their medical restrictions. This can make it easier for them to get back to their original work and help lessen the impact of a claim.

  • Look for return-to-work opportunities with light-duty work, if medically approved
    • This can help speed the worker's recovery, while keeping claim costs down for you
  • Check out our Stay at Work program
    • You may be eligible for reimbursements for some of your worker's base wages and expenses such as training and tools related to the light-duty work
The injury wasn’t my fault

Washington is a no-fault state. L&I will cover an allowable claim for a workplace injury regardless of who is at fault. This rule also applies to self-insured employers.


My worker was the victim of a crime

If your worker was a victim of a crime at work, they may also file an additional claim with our Crime Victims Compensation Program. Go to Apply for Crime Victim Benefits.

What more do I need to know?

Often a claim is the first time an employer comes to our website and L&I has a lot of resources to help your business. Here is an overview of some of the sections that may be relevant to you.

Claims:

This is the section you are currently in and it will cover what you need to know about the claims process; what to do when you have an injured worker, your rights as an employer, how to file the employer report of accident, and what steps you can take if you disagree with a decision L&I makes about a claim. It also provides resources for your worker on how to file and what claim benefits they may be entitled to. For information see the Benefits for Your Workers tab.

Insurance requirements:

Did you know that all workers in Washington state are considered covered by workers’ compensation unless they fit very strict definitions for exclusion? Visit the insurance requirements section to understand your responsibilities as an employer, who’s a covered worker, and if your industry has specific requirements. Do I Need a Workers' Comp Account?

Quarterly reports:

If you file your quarterly report on our website this section might be familiar to you. In this section you will also find due dates for quarterly filing, penalties and interest for filing late, and special reporting rules for some industries. File Quarterly Reports

Rates & risk classes:

Have questions about what a risk class is? What your rate is? Or how to lower your rates? This section helps you understand the basics of risk classes and rates. Rates For Workers' Compensation

Workers’ rights:

Workers in Washington have specific rights regarding wages and hours worked, protections from discrimination, and leave or benefits. This section includes special rights for teen workers, and for certain industries such as agriculture. Workers' Rights

Safety & health:

Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace for their workers and we have a lot of resources to help you make sure your workplace and your equipment are safe. We can also help you develop training materials for your workers. Get Started with Safety & Health

Training opportunities:

Attend one of our workshops or sign up for a webinar to learn more about our programs and your responsibilities. Workshops & Training Center

Will this impact my rates?

Not every claim will impact your rates. A claim where a worker receives only medical care, does not miss time from work, and the injury doesn't result in a permanent disability, is unlikely to affect your rates. Go to Claim-Free Discount for more information on medical-only claims.

When will a claim impact my rates?
Go to experience rating to understand how and when a claim will impact your rates.

Benefits for your workers

Go to the Injured workers: Claim Benefits for more detailed information on these topics.

Wage replacement

If your worker misses time from work and their doctor certifies they are unable to work, L&I may pay for a portion of their lost wages, which is called "time‑loss compensation." However, the first 3 days immediately following the worker’s injury are considered a waiting period. They will only receive benefits for those days if the worker is off work on the 14th day after their injury.

Medical benefits

Your worker’s first visit to a doctor for a specific workplace injury is covered even if their claim is not approved. If the workers’ compensation claim is approved L&I will cover medical bills directly related to your worker's injury until their doctor certifies the injury has stabilized and reached a point where further recovery isn't expected.

Travel reimbursement

An injured worker’s travel expenses will only be reimbursed by meeting these requirements:

  • Reimbursement is preauthorized by the worker’s claim manager
  • The provider is further than 15 miles one-way from the worker’s home (30 miles round trip)
  • There are no providers within 15 miles of the worker’s home that could treat their condition
  • The Travel Reimbursement Request is complete, including a copy of all expense receipts

Travel reimbursement may also include parking over $10, tolls, and some other travel expenses.

Property reimbursement

An injured worker may be reimbursed for personal property lost or damaged during a workplace accident. To get reimbursed, they must complete and submit the Statement for Miscellaneous Services.

Property reimbursement coverage is limited to the following:

  • Prescription eye glasses or contacts
  • Clothing
  • Shoes or boots
  • Personal protective equipment

Permanent partial disability

An injured worker may receive a permanent partial disability (PPD) award if:

The injured worker has completed treatment and is still able to work but has suffered a permanent loss of function
AND
A qualified doctor provides L&I with a PPD rating. Go to RCW 51.32.080 (leg.wa.gov) to find out more.

Wage replacement and medical benefits will end after the injured worker receives a disability award unless the claim is reopened.

Pension

An injured worker may receive a monthly pension if they are certified as permanently and totally disabled before L&I closes the claim
AND
The medical and vocational evidence finds that their injury prevents them from becoming gainfully employed OR they have lost the use of both legs, both arms, an arm and a leg, or their vision.

Settle a claim

One option to resolve your claim is with a structured settlement. This is when you, L&I, and your worker agree to resolve all future benefits, except medical, for a sum of money.

You may initiate structured settlement discussions for an eligible worker's claim by filing an application with L&I. However, structured settlements are voluntary, and the decision on whether to enter into a discussion or settlement is up to the worker and L&I. Go to Settle a Claim to find out more.

Vocational rehabilitation

If an injured worker qualifies for vocational retraining, their vocational rehabilitation counselor (VRC) will explain the vocational process to them. The VRC will work with the worker to develop a retraining plan aimed at helping them return to work.

Related Resources