Injured workers who are age 50 or over and have an accepted L&I claim at least 180 days old are eligible for a structured settlement.

The structured settlement process is different for State Fund and self-insured employers.

State Fund Employers

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 whether to enter into a discussion is up to the worker and L&I.

How to apply

Who’s involved?

All parties to a claim must agree to a negotiated settlement. If your premiums are affected by the injured worker’s claim, the parties include you, L&I, and the injured worker. If it is an occupational disease claim, more than one employer may be a party to negotiations.

There are some cases when a State Fund employer is not a party to an agreement:

  • The claim is no longer affecting your premiums.
  • The employer cannot be located.
  • The employer is no longer in business.
  • The employer fails to respond, or declines to participate, after being notified of the structured settlement process by L&I and the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals (BIIA).

We recommend employers consider seeking the advice of legal counsel and/or a financial consultant before entering into a structured settlement. Settlements involve legal procedures and they can have a financial impact on your business, including premiums.

Self-Insured Employers

Self-insured employer are responsible for the settlement negotiations. You can approach your injured worker or their representative to discuss settlement opportunities for settlement.

We must give prior written approval for any settlement agreement that impacts a workers' compensation insurance (Title 51 RCW) fund. You must notify us by mail and allow 30 days for us to approve or deny the request.

Reporting the settlement

The full amount of the settlement must be reported for the quarter in which the agreement becomes final, and the remaining balance must be reported in each subsequent quarter until the balance is zero. You will pay claim cost assessments on the amount actually paid out each quarter.

On your annual report, you must also report the amount of any settlement payments and remaining balance.

Settlement process

Settlement discussions can be started by us, or by the employer or worker sending an application to us.

If the claim is appropriate for settlement, we will contact all parties and negotiate specific terms of the settlement. If all parties agree, we will draft the settlement contract, circulate it for signatures, and send the contract to the BIIA for approval.

If the BIIA approves the agreement, there is a 30-day revocation period. Any party to the agreement may revoke consent to the settlement for any reason during the revocation period. L&I will continue to manage the claim and pay any benefits the employee is entitled to throughout the revocation period.

Finalizing the settlement

The structured settlement agreement becomes final when the 30-day revocation period ends. Structured settlement payments begin within 14 days after the agreement is final. If closure of the claim is part of the agreement, it is considered closed after the 30-day revocation period ends.

Limitations

Structured settlement law requires periodic payments with certain limits:

  • Initial payment: At least 25% of the state's average monthly wage, but no more than 6 times the state's average monthly wage.
  • Subsequent payments: At least 25% of the state's average monthly wage, but no more than 150% the state's average monthly wage.

The settlement agreement does not affect future industrial injury or occupational disease claims, including claims for benefits when the worker's death is the result of a claim-related condition.

Issues outside of the workers' compensation insurance law (RCW Title 51), such as employment or discrimination claims and disputes, may not be settled as part of a structured settlement agreement.