Inflation, economic indicators, and other factors affect the cost of living in Washington State. These factors also impact workers’ compensation benefits. Time loss and pension benefits are intended to provide financial support for injured workers. Rising prices reduce the value of your benefits. To help alleviate this problem, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) implements a cost of living adjustment (COLA) in July of most years. The workers’ compensation cost of living adjustment for 2022 became effective on July 1 and will run through June 30, 2023.
As a result of the COLA increase, your time loss and pension benefits should increase. There is typically cause for concern if there is no increase in your benefits. You should consult with a Seattle workers’ compensation attorney who can explain the laws and take legal action as necessary to protect your rights.
There are four points you should be aware of about COLA under Washington State workers’ comp laws.
- COLA for 2022: Washington state officials are required to re-evaluate benefit amounts annually using the state average wage as a measurement. The COLA for 2022 is 7.5 percent. The basis for the higher amount is that the state average wage increased from $76,741 to $82,508.
- Workers’ Comp Benefits Affected by the 2022 COLA: You can expect changes to your benefits beginning July 1, 2022, although it may take a short period of time to see the adjustment in your time loss or pension payment. The adjustments include:
- Time Loss: If you receive benefits for time-loss compensation, the amount is based upon a percentage of your wage at the time of injury. The percentage varies from 60 percent for a single worker to 75 percent for a married worker with five children at the time of injury. When the COLA increases, there will be a corresponding increase in your time loss rate. The time loss rate is capped at 120 percent of the state average wage. Starting July 1, the maximum monthly amount for time loss is $8,250.80.
- L&I Pension Benefits: There are benefits for injured workers who cannot return to work, and you may be familiar with the term permanent total disability. COLA will affect the amounts for L&I pensions, including family members who receive benefits after a fatal workplace accident.
- Loss of Earning Power (LEP): When your medical condition still allows you to work, though, with limitations, you receive LEP compensation for the difference in earnings. The loss must be greater than 5 percent to be eligible. In some cases, the COLA will affect the amount you receive for LEP benefits.
- Who Qualifies for Cost of Living 2022: Those receiving the benefits described above are eligible, though there is nothing you need to do to take advantage of COLA. However, you will not see changes if you were injured recently and are just starting to receive workers’ compensation benefits. The COLA increase does not apply the first year following an industrial injury.
- Disputes Over COLA: As mentioned, you should see a COLA increase in your workers’ comp benefits for time loss, L&I pension, or LEP compensation within the next month if you have not already received the increase. The Department will pay the increase back to July 1, 2022. If you believe there is an error in your COLA increase, it is important to reach out to an attorney. You are entitled to proper workers’ comp benefits, including amounts tied to COLA.
Set Up a Free Consultation with a Seattle Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
This information about the Cost of Living adjustment may be useful, but it is critical to work with experienced legal counsel if you have concerns about your workers’ comp benefits. For personalized details about COLA, please call The Walthew Law Firm or contact us online to schedule a no-cost case review. Our Washington workers’ comp attorneys serve injured workers in King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County, Kitsap County, and Pierce County from our offices in Seattle and Everett, WA.
On June 1, 2022, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) announced a new workplace safety guidance that increases heat and wildfire smoke protections for outdoor workers.
At The Walthew Law Firm, we are strong advocates for worker safety as we believe everyone deserves a safe, healthy workplace. In this article, our Seattle workers’ comp. attorneys provide an overview of the guidance and its new enhanced workplace safety protections for outdoor workers in Washington State.
The Safety Issue: Concerns About Heat and Washington Air Quality in Summer Months
The average summer high temperatures are rising in Washington. For example, in the summer of 2021, Hanford, WA, hit 120 degrees—the highest temperature ever recorded in our state. During the same heatwave, the City of Seattle hit its highest ever record temperature of 108 degrees. As climate change continues to affect the globe, environmental scientists believe that more heat and record temperatures are in store for the Pacific Northwest.
To make matters even more challenging for our region, there is also a growing risk of wildfires and wildfire smoke. As explained by the Department of Ecology for the State of Washington, “Because of climate change, more frequent and intense wildfires are likely to become the new normal” in the western United States. As a result, these more frequent and intense wildfires and wildfire smoke will pose serious safety risks to everyone, including outdoor workers.
What to Know About the Enhanced Heat and Wildfire Smoke Protections
With their newly issued guidance on heat and wildfire smoke protections, Washington workplace safety regulators are taking proactive measures to protect the health and well-being of outdoor workers this summer. In a news release, L&I assistant director Craig Blackwood explained, “the record-setting heat wave last summer underscored the importance of protecting outdoor workers.” Here are three key points from L&I’s new guidance:
- The Guidance Applies from June 15 through September 30: L&I is putting temporary (emergency) outdoor worker safety regulations on heat exposure, wildfire smoke, and worker training in place for the Summer of 2022. These regulations took effect on June 15, 2022, and will end on September 30, 2022.
- Outdoor Heat Rules are In Effect When the Temperature Hits 89 Degrees: Employers who have outdoor workers must follow both the existing and emergency heat exposure rules when the temperature hits 89 degrees. Combined, the existing and emergency outdoor heat safety rules require employers to provide: 1) A minimum of one quart per hour of cool water for employees to drink, 2) An area of shade that is sufficiently large enough and close enough to outdoor workers, 3) A minimum of 10 minutes for a cool-down break for every two hours of outdoor work, and 4) encouragement of workers to hydrate, stay cool, and take breaks.
- Wildfire Smoke Safety Rules are in Full Effect When Air Quality Index Reaches 101: The Air Quality Index (AQI) measures how healthy the air is to breathe—with a lower number being safer. In Washington, poor outdoor air quality is frequently driven by wildfire smoke. When the AQI reaches 69, employers in our state are encouraged to take action to protect workers. When the AQI reaches 101 (poor air quality) employers are required to take action to limit worker exposure to wildfire smoke to the maximum extent feasible, including providing respirators at no cost for voluntary use. In the extreme case that wildfire smoke particles exceed 555 micrograms per cubic meter or greater than an AQI of 500 (an extremely hazardous level), outdoor workers must be provided with and required to wear a protective respirator.
Employers Must Comply with Outdoor Heat Exposure Rules in Washington
All employers in Washington that employ outdoor workers are required to comply with the outdoor heat exposure and wildfire smoke workplace safety regulations. As a result, a wide range of different industries are affected, including construction workers, farmworkers, facilities maintenance workers, road crews, and anyone else whose job requires them to frequently work outdoors. For employees, it is normal to have questions about their rights and the workers’ comp claims process, especially after suffering a heat or smoke related medical issue. Our law firm can answer questions about workers’ comp in Washington.
Call Our Seattle, WA Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Today
At The Walthew Law Firm, our Seattle workers’ comp attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights and interests of injured workers. If you or your loved one was injured or made ill while working outdoors due to heat or wildfire smoke, we can help. Call us now or send us a message to set up a no cost, no commitment initial review of your case. From our Seattle law office location, we advocate for the rights of injured workers throughout the region.
According to a report from The Seattle Times, Amazon delivery drivers are injured at a disproportionately high rate, and that rate is increasing. A study published by the Strategic Organizing Center (SOC)—a labor rights organization—found that nearly 20 percent of delivery drivers working for Amazon were hurt on the job in 2021. That represents a nearly 40 percent increase from the previous year. Here, our Seattle workers’ compensations attorneys discuss the risk that Amazon delivery drivers face and explain your options if you are injured while working for the company.
Study: Amazon Delivery Drivers Put Under High Pressure, Injured at Disproportionate Rates
In its report, The Worst Mile, the SOC notes that Amazon has seen record revenues during the COVID-19 outbreak. The company strongly emphasizes fast delivery times and puts its entire team—from warehouse workers to delivery drivers—under high pressure to meet performance expectations. Sadly, there are serious concerns about worker safety at the company.
With nearly 1 in 5 Amazon delivery drivers hurt on the job in 2021, these workers are injured at higher rates than comparable workers at other companies. Alarmingly, the number of serious injuries for delivery drivers at Amazon also jumped significantly in 2021. In 2021, there was a 47 percent increase in serious delivery driver injuries from 2020.
The Most Common Amazon Delivery Driver Injuries
The SOC analyzes comprehensive workers’ compensation claims data from several states. In doing so, the nonprofit organization determined that Amazon delivery drivers are injured in a wide range of different ways. Here are the five most common types of Amazon delivery driver injuries in 2021:
- Slips, trips, and other fall accidents;
- Overexertion injuries (muscle strains);
- Dog bite injuries;
- Motor vehicle collisions; and
- Striking-an-object injuries.
Other Worker Safety Concerns at Amazon
Delivery drivers are not the only Amazon employees that are reportedly injured at disproportionate rates. Earlier this year, CNBC cited a study that found that Amazon warehouse workers are approximately two times more likely to be harmed on the job than warehouse workers at other companies. Many warehouses suffer muscle strains, back injuries, and other overexertion and repetitive stress injuries (RSIs). Notably, Amazon admitted that warehouse worker safety was a problem at the company. In its own report to shareholders, the company stated that a highly disproportionate share of warehouse workers are injured within their first six months on the job.
Washington Hit Amazon with Workplace Safety Fines Earlier this Year
Workplace safety regulators in Washington are taking notice of the issues at Amazon. As reported by Business Insider, the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) fined Amazon $60,000 for “knowingly putting workers at risk of injury.” The specific violation occurred at one of the company’s fulfillment centers in Kent, WA. L&I determined that Amazon’s practice created an impermissible risk of work-related back injuries, shoulder injuries, wrist injuries, and knee injuries.
Injured as an Amazon Delivery Driver? Know Your Rights
In Washington State, all employers are required to provide no-fault workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. Many delivery drivers are not employed directly by Amazon—instead, they are employed by the company’s so-called delivery service partners or DSPs. Still, your employer is required to provide you with workers’ compensation coverage. Here is what you need to know about your rights and options:
- Workers’ Compensation Claim: Any injury should be immediately reported to your supervisor and/or employer. Get medical treatment and follow-up care. You can file a workers’ compensation claim regardless of fault as these are no-fault claims. Your workers’ compensation benefits will cover medical care that is “proper and necessary” as well as partial wage replacement.
- Third Party Liability Claim: Amazon delivery drivers hurt on the job may also have a third party liability claim. If you were harmed because of the negligence of any party other than your employer—another driver, a dog owner, etc.—you can file a personal injury claim directly against that party. In Washington State, you can still file for workers’ compensation benefits even if you intend on pursuing a third party liability claim.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Workers’ Comp Attorney in Seattle
At The Walthew Law Firm, our Seattle work injury attorneys are committed to helping clients secure the maximum available financial compensation. If you or your loved one was hurt while working as a delivery driver for Amazon, we are here to help. Call us now or send us a message to arrange a no cost, no commitment initial consultation. With a law office in Seattle, we provide legal representation to injured workers in King County and throughout Western Washington.
Workplace safety remains a serious concern. According to data cited by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), approximately 900,000 workers nationwide miss time on the job each year due to an occupational injury or an occupational illness. Workers’ compensation insurance provides financial protection to people hurt on the job.
Unfortunately, it is not always easy to get a workers’ compensation claim paid. You may be required to challenge a denial through an administrative appeal or even through superior court. While jury trials are relatively uncommon in workers’ compensation claims, they do happen. Here, our Seattle workers’ comp lawyers highlight the key things to know about superior court jury trials in Washington.
You Have the Right to Appeal a Workers’ Compensation Denial in Washington
If your workers’ comp claim was denied in Washington, you have the right to file an appeal. As explained by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), the workers’ compensation appeals process generally starts with an administrative appeal. You may appeal directly to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals (BIIA) within 60 days of the date of an adverse decision. The BIIA is a quasi-judicial body, independent from the Department of Labor & Industries, that decides workers’ compensation disputes. At the BIIA, you will present testimony, which may include lay witnesses, vocational witnesses, and medical witnesses. The Employer or the Department usually will also present testimony. An Industrial Appeals Judge considers all the evidence and issues a decision.
Injured Workers Can Challenge an Adverse Decision from the BIAA in Superior Court
If you receive an unfavorable decision from the BIIA, you have the right to take your workers’ compensation claim to court to be decided by a judge or a jury. Indeed, any party that disagrees with any portion of the final order issued by the BIIA can file an appeal in superior court. In Washington State, a workers’ compensation trial should occur in either:
- The superior court in the county where the worker lives; or
- The superior court in the county where the injury happened.
A workers’ compensation case that makes it to superior court is a trial. Each side will have an opportunity to present their side of the case, though, there are some important limitations that you need to be aware of. With very limited exceptions, the superior court is restricted to reviewing the “claim record”—meaning the parties typically cannot introduce new evidence. The court will consider the same evidence that was presented to the BIIA, which is read to the judge or jury.
Deadline to Appeal to Superior Court: In Washington, injured workers have 30 days from the date a final order is entered in their workers’ comp claim to file an appeal to a superior court. If you fail to file your appeal in time, you could miss out on your opportunity to take your claim to court.
Understanding Workers’ Comp Trials: How a Workers’ Comp Lawyer Can Help
Workers’ comp jury trials are complicated. To get a successful result on appeal, you must be prepared to present comprehensive supporting evidence. An experienced Seattle workers’ compensation lawyer will help you build a compelling case, which must be developed at the BIIA stage. Some of the key evidence in a workers’ compensation trial in Washington includes:
- The personal testimony of the injured worker;
- Supporting testimony from eyewitnesses;
- Contemporaneous notes;
- Medical records, including pre-work injury medical records;
- Employment records; and
- Any other evidence deemed relevant.
Every workers’ compensation appeal is different. It is imperative that you have a strong, experienced advocate by your side as early on as possible in the claims process. At The Walthew Law Firm, our Washington workers’ compensation appeals attorneys have extensive experience handling all aspects of work injury appeals, including before the BIIA and in superior court.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Seattle
At The Walthew Law Firm, our top Seattle workers’ compensation attorneys provide pragmatic, results-focused legal guidance and support to employees hurt on the job. If you have any questions about workers’ compensation superior court jury trials, we are here to help. Give us a phone call or use our online contact form for a no cost, completely confidential consultation. Our attorneys advocate for injured workers throughout Western Washington, including Seattle, Everett, and Tacoma.
Accidents happen in the workplace. According to official federal government data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 2.7 million workplace injuries were reported nationwide in 2020. Washington’s workers’ compensation laws help to ensure that people who were hurt on the job have access to medical coverage and wage loss benefits.
Workers’ compensation helps to fill the gap for people who are unable to work due to their injury. This raises an important question: Can you work while on workers’ comp? The answer depends on a few factors—but you must always report your work status and earnings to the Department of Labor & Industries or the self-insured employer. Here, our Seattle workers’ comp lawyers explain what to know about working while on workers’ compensation in Washington.
Understanding Workers’ Comp Benefits in Washington
In Washington State, workers’ compensation benefits cover medical care and time loss. Under WAC 296-20-01002, an injured worker can claim benefits for all health care services that are “proper and necessary.” In other words, your medical care will be covered by workers’ compensation if it is reasonably related to your injury and curative or rehabilitative using accepted methods and practices. Your medical coverage for workers’ comp is not cut off when you return to work. You can keep receiving medical coverage as long as the treatment in question is proper and necessary.
Many injured workers are forced to miss time on the job in order to recover from their work-related injury. In Washington, injured workers can claim time loss benefits through a workers’ comp claim. As a general rule, time loss benefits (Temporary Total Disability (TTD)) are paid at two-thirds of a claimant’s pre-injury earnings—up to a statutory maximum of weekly benefit.
Time loss benefits are designed to make up for the earnings you lost due to your injury. If you are able to return to work at your previous position—making the same salary—then you would not be entitled to time loss benefits in Washington State. These benefits exist for those who are losing out on earnings due to injury or illness. Time loss benefits are not available for injured workers who are making the same amount as they did pre-injury.
Some workers can receive time-loss benefits even though they return to work. For instance, you may be required to take a light-duty position or a light-duty assignment following your work injury. As described by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), light-duty work is “work your employer may offer within your medical restrictions for you to perform while you recover.” In some cases, light-duty work is an entirely new job position. In other cases, light-duty work may merely be reduced hours or job duties.
The challenge is that light-duty work does not always pay a person the pre-accident earnings. If you are on light duty work and you are receiving less money than you were making before your work-related accident, you can still claim workers’ comp benefits for loss of earning power (LEP). Your workers’ comp LEP compensation should help fill the gap. If you have any questions about light-duty assignments and TTD or LEP benefits, our Washington workers’ comp lawyer can help.
Workers’ Comp Violations: Unreported Work and Unreported Income
With light-duty work, the specific terms must be reported—otherwise, you will not be eligible to continue receiving workers’ comp benefits for LEP. You need to report where you are working and how much you are earning. In Washington, workers’ comp claimants are not permitted to engage in unreported work, nor are they permitted to earn unreported income.
If you earn unreported work income and continue to collect temporary total disability benefits through workers’ compensation insurance, you could be charged with fraud. This is a very serious matter. Regulators in Washington State are cracking down on workers’ comp fraud. An individual who fails to report their work status or earnings could face civil or even criminal penalties.
Get Help From a Seattle, WA Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
At The Walthew Law Firm, our Washington workers’ compensation lawyers provide top-quality legal advocacy to workers. Your rights matter. If you have any questions about working while on workers’ comp, we are here to help. Give us a call or contact us online to set up your no cost, no obligation case evaluation. We provide workers’ comp representation throughout the region, including in Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue, Kent, Everett, Renton, Federal Way, Puyallup, and Kirkland.
Workers deserve safe conditions. Unfortunately, job-related accidents remain a serious issue throughout the country. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that nearly 900,000 American workers are forced to miss time due to a job-related injury or illness each year. If you are hurt on the job, you need to know your legal rights.
This raises an important question: How do you know if you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits? The answer depends on several different factors. In this article, our Seattle work injury attorneys answer the question by explaining the key things to know if you are trying to figure out whether or not you have a workers’ compensation claim in Washington.
Know the Basics: When You Qualify for Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Washington
Is workers’ compensation insurance coverage mandatory?
Yes. Washington State requires employers across industries to provide no-fault workers’ compensation coverage to their employees. An employer can pay into the Washington State Fund or obtain self-insurance. All workers in the State of Washington are entitled to workers’ compensation insurance regardless of part-time or full-time status, length of employment, immigration status, or the employer’s compliance in paying into the fund.
What type of injury or conditions are covered under worker’s compensation?
Workers are entitled to benefits when they suffer a work-related injury or an occupational disease, regardless of fault of the employer or a third party in producing the injury or occupational disease.
What is a work-related injury?
An injury is a sudden happening that produces injury. To have a valid claim for a work-related injury, the injury must have occurred while the employee was “acting in the course of employment.” It does not necessarily have to occur on your employer’s premises to be covered by workers’ compensation. If you have any doubt as to whether you have a valid work-injury claim, you should contact a Washington state workers’ compensation lawyer immediately for a comprehensive case evaluation.
What is an occupational disease?
An occupational disease is a disease or infection that arises “naturally and proximately” out of employment. Common examples are chemical exposures or physical conditions arising due to overuse and repetitive strain in performing work-related duties. In order to have a valid claim, the disease must have arisen as a natural consequence of your work conditions, and the disease must have arisen because of your work conditions. If you have any doubt as to whether you have a valid occupational disease claim, you should contact a Washington state workers’ compensation lawyer immediately for a comprehensive case evaluation.
What if I had a pre-existing condition?
The law recognizes that not all workers are in perfect health before a work-injury or development of an occupational disease. Workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for any condition that was asymptomatic or latent but ‘lit up’ by a work injury or occupational exposure. Workers are also entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for any pre-existing condition that was symptomatic but aggravated by a work injury or occupational exposure. If you have any doubt as to whether you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits due to a pre-existing condition, whether asymptomatic or symptomatic, you should contact a Washington state workers’ compensation lawyer immediately for a comprehensive case evaluation.
When must I file a claim with the Department of Labor & Industries?
Workers should file a claim with the Department of Labor & Industries as soon as possible after any possible work-related injury or occupational disease. It is the responsibility of the worker to make sure that a claim is filed with the Department or the self-insured employer. There are strict deadlines that can prevent an otherwise valid claim from being accepted, which would result in no benefits to the injured worker. Claims for work injuries must be filed within one year of the injury, and claims for occupational diseases must be filed within two years of receiving written notice by a physician or nurse practitioner that a worker’s disease or condition was caused, at least in part, by their employment.
The Bottom Line: Workers’ compensation claims can be complex, and there is a lot of gray area in the above requirements. If you were injured or suffered an occupational disease/condition while working on behalf of your employer in Washington state, you should file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits as soon as possible. If you have any doubt about your entitlement to benefits, a Seattle workers’ compensation attorney can review your case and help you determine your rights. You do not have to navigate the process alone.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Washington
At The Walthew Law Firm, our Seattle workers’ compensation attorneys are proud to provide solutions-driven legal guidance and support to the hard-working people of Washington. If you want to know whether or not you have a viable workers’ compensation claim, we are more than happy to help. Contact our law firm now for your free, no obligation case review. We represent injured workers throughout Western Washington, including Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue, and Everett.
Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of serious injuries in our region. Alarmingly, the National Safety Council (NSC) reports that 2021 had a 16% increase in motor vehicle deaths. With accidents on the rise, it is crucial for drivers to always remember to get immediate medical attention if they’re involved in a serious collision. Without hesitation, you should always see a doctor if you feel you’ve been hurt in a crash.
At The Walthew Law Firm, our attorneys and staff provide top-quality, fully personalized legal representation to injured victims and their families. We want to make sure that you know how to protect your health, well-being, legal rights, and financial interests. In this article, our Seattle car accident attorneys explain why it is so important to get medical care after experiencing a crash.
Protect Your Health: Many Car Accident Injuries Occur with a Delayed Onset
As a starting point, it is important to emphasize that nothing should come before your health, safety, and well-being. All car accident injuries require an immediate evaluation from a qualified physician. With the most serious of injuries, emergency medical attention is an absolute must. Beyond that, seemingly “mild” or “moderate” injuries should also be evaluated as soon as possible.
Many common car accident injuries arise with a delayed onset, meaning you may not notice the symptoms from your injuries until hours or days after the crash. This happens in many cases because of the sudden rush of adrenaline through the human body that arises during the impact and temporarily masks the pain. It is not uncommon for injuries such as whiplash (soft tissue damage), back pain, and even concussions to emerge 24 to 72 hours after an accident.
Beyond seeking initial medical care, you should also be sure to attend all your follow-up appointments so that your treatment stays on track. To make a full physical and mental recovery after a serious car accident, you need access to the best available medical resources. With the right treatment plan, you or your loved one will be in a far better position to recover after a crash.
Protect Your Rights: Medical Records form the Basis of Your Claim
It is important to receive medical attention after a car crash not only to protect your own health and welfare but also to protect the viability of your legal claim. The “golden rule” we always tell potential or existing clients is that you cannot claim financial compensation for your injuries unless you see a doctor.
Medical records are the basis of your personal injury claim. Without well-prepared records, the insurance company will likely not authorize a settlement for your injuries, pain and suffering, or your emotional distress claims. The more comprehensive your medical records are, the easier it will be for you to recover the full and fair financial compensation you rightfully deserve.
The bottom line is you must get professional medical attention to (1) receive the best possible recovery plan and (2) help you become eligible to bring a car accident injury claim. If you do not see a doctor, you will not only be putting your own health and safety at risk but will also be limiting your financial compensation to only property damage (i.e., the cost of vehicle repairs).
A Car Accident Lawyer Can Help Prepare Your Medical Records
If you were involved in a crash, your first job is to see a doctor. From there, an experienced Seattle car accident lawyer can help you collect, organize, and prepare your medical records to make a proper claim with the insurance company. Always remember, if another party was at-fault for your accident, you have a right to seek financial compensation for the full extent of your losses, including all medical bills. With the help of a car accident lawyer, you can feel more confident that you will be in the best position possible to recover the fullest extent of those losses.
Call Our Seattle, WA Car Accident Attorneys for a Free Consultation
At The Walthew Law Firm, our Washington auto accident lawyers fight hard to protect the health, well-being, and legal rights of injured victims. We are fully prepared to help you seek the full financial compensation you deserve for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. For a free review of your case, please contact us today. With legal offices in Seattle and Everett, we advocate for the rights of injured accident victims throughout Washington state.
Drivers must obtain liability insurance. As explained by the Office of the Insurance Commissioner for Washington State, all motorists are required to have minimum mandatory insurance coverage. However, many drivers fail to comply. The Insurance Information Institute (III) reports that a shocking 21.7%of drivers in Washington were uninsured/underinsured in 2019.
This raises an important question: Can you still recover compensation if you are hit by an uninsured motorist? The answer is ‘yes’—but your claim could be more complicated. It is crucial that you know how to protect your rights. In this article, our Seattle motor vehicle collision attorneys explain what you should do if you are hit by an uninsured driver in Washington.
Four Steps to Take If You are Hit by an Uninsured Driver in Washington
- Stop Your Vehicle, Collect Information, and Report the Collision
In Washington, all drivers are required to stop their vehicle and remain at the scene of a collision, unless they need to seek emergency medical attention. As noted by the Washington State Office of Attorney General, failure to stop at a collision/leaving the scene of a crash could be a criminal offense. If you are involved in a crash with an uninsured driver, make sure that you follow through with all of your obligations. Make sure you get as much information from the other driver as possible, including their name, vehicle make & model, and license plate. The collision should also be reported to the police.
- Seek Immediate Medical Attention for Any Injuries
Nothing is more important than your health and well-being. If you were hurt in a crash with an uninsured motorist, it is imperative that you seek immediate medical attention. Many common collision injuries occur with a delayed onset—it can take up to 72 hours to feel the full effects of soft tissue damage, a back injury, a concussion, or other impairments. Make sure you get yourself evaluated by a licensed medical professional. You will not be able to bring a personal injury claim if you do not have medical records that support the existence and severity of your injuries.
- Notify Your Insurer—But Do Not Agree to Accept Fault for the Crash
In general, auto insurance policies require drivers to notify the company promptly after a collision. It is especially important to notify your insurer after a collision with an uninsured motorist as you may be required to pursue a legal claim through your own policy. In the immediate aftermath of a crash, you simply need to tell your insurance provider that a collision occurred; you are not required to give a recorded statement.
Do not admit to or agree to accept blame for the crash at this time. It is not your duty to determine how and why a collision occurred. As Washington is a comparative negligence state for motor vehicle collisions, accepting even a small amount of blame for a collision could take money out of your pocket. Let a Washington lawyer deal with the issue of fault.
- Know Your Options for Pursuing Financial Compensation
Finding out that the driver who hit you lacks adequate auto insurance coverage can be deeply frustrating. The good news is that you still have options to pursue compensation for your damages. Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, you may be able to recover financial compensation from:
- The Uninsured Driver (Personally): An at-fault driver can still be held legally responsible for a collision even if they do not have auto liability insurance coverage. You could pursue a claim against them personally. That being said, this is often not a viable option. With some exceptions, most uninsured drivers in Washington lack assets to cover your damages.
- Your Own Insurance Company (UM/UIM Coverage): Many drivers carry uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM coverage. If you have such a policy, you can pursue financial compensation from your own insurance company.
- A Negligent Third Party: In some cases, the uninsured driver who hit you is not the only party liable for your crash. A third party—another driver, a trucking company, a vehicle manufacturer, etc.—may also bear partial fault for your crash. You have a right to pursue compensation against these defendants.
Call Our Washington Personal Injury Lawyers for a Free Case Evaluation
At The Walthew Law Firm, our Seattle attorneys have the professional skills and legal expertise to handle personal injury and uninsured motorist claims. If you or your loved one was hurt in a crash with an uninsured or underinsured driver, we are more than ready to help. Call us now or connect with us directly online to set up your free, no obligation initial consultation. From our law offices in Seattle and Everett, we are well-positioned to handle uninsured motorist claims throughout Western Washington, including in King County, Pierce County, Kitsap County, and Snohomish County.
Meet Matthew D. Dick
Matthew joined The Walthew Law Firm in 2016. He started as a file clerk and quickly moved into a legal assistant role, later working as a legal clerk all while attending law school. His work experience at The Walthew Law Firm provides him with a comprehensive knowledge of both Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury. He has a deep understanding of the unique issues related to each practice as well as compassion for the distinct challenges the injured worker faces.
Matthew graduated from Seattle University Law School in 2021. He is a member of the King County Bar Association and Washington State Association for Justice.
Matthew is a Seattle native. He grew up locally in West Seattle and graduated from the University of Washington in 2015 with a degree in Political Science – International Security. He is an avid sports fan who supports the Mariners, Seahawks, and Huskies.
Areas of Practice
- Workers’ Compensation
- Plaintiff Personal Injury
- Washington, 2021
- Western District of Washington US District Court
- Seattle University Law School
- University of Washington, Political Science – International Security
Professional Associations and Memberships
- Washington State Bar Association
- Washington State Association for Justice, Eagle Member
- King County Bar Association
Americans change jobs a lot more now than they did in decades past. According to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average employee has worked for their current company for 4.1 years. A work-related accident does not stop life from moving forward. You could find yourself needing or wanting to change jobs shortly after sustaining an injury in the workplace.
This raises an important question: Can you change jobs while receiving workers’ compensation benefits in Washington? The short answer is “yes,” though there are some additional considerations that you need to keep in mind. In this article, our Seattle workers’ compensation lawyers highlight the most important things to know about changing jobs while receiving workers’ comp benefits.
A Change in Employment Status Does Not Prevent a Claim
As a starting point, your ability to file a workers’ compensation claim and your ability to receive benefits is not directly tied to your employment status. This means that you are allowed to pursue workers’ comp benefits if you are still gainfully employed at the same company, have changed jobs, or were laid off. Remember, it is always best to file a workers’ compensation injury claim as soon as possible after the injury.
You can pursue any other related claim as well. For example, if you were injured on a construction site due to the negligence of a subcontractor (not your own employer). You have the right to file a workers’ comp claim and a third-party liability claim even if you decide to change jobs.
Workers’ Comp Claims Tip: Injured workers have important legal rights in Washington State. Among other things, you have the right to file a workers’ comp claim without facing any adverse treatment or retaliation from your employer. If you were fired, laid off, harassed, or otherwise subject to retaliation because you filed for workers’ compensation benefits, your rights were violated. Contact an attorney.
Your Current Ability to Earn an Income (or Lack Thereof) is Relevant
We are sometimes asked, “will it hurt my worker’s comp claim to go back to work?” The usual answer is “no,” but doing so can impact benefits on a claim. The effect depends on the specific nature of your case, including the type of workers’ comp benefits that you are seeking or already receiving. Here is what you should know about how a change in employment could impact the most common types of workers’ comp benefits in Washington:
- Medical Benefits: In Washington, injured workers are entitled to workers’ comp for all medical care and rehabilitative treatment related to a claim that is “proper and necessary.” You can still pursue full L&I medical benefits even if you change jobs.
- Wage Loss Benefits: A new job could impact your wage loss benefits. Once you return to work, your income will be counted against your workers’ comp time loss benefits. If your salary at your new job is lower than your date-of-injury salary, you may still qualify for loss of earning power (LEP) benefits to make up for a percentage of the difference.
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Benefits: An injured worker can receive a permanent partial disability (PPD) award if they have a permanent impairment that was caused by a work-related accident. Changing jobs does not affect your right to a PPD award. A Washington workers’ comp lawyer can help get PPD compensation.
Be Sure to Discuss Health Restrictions Before Taking a New Position
If you were hurt on the job in Washington State, your doctor may approve your return to work on a part-time or light-duty basis. Any doctor-prescribed work restrictions should be followed. It is important you make sure that your employer is fully aware of your limitations. You and your doctor will want to make sure that any new position is one you are physically and mentally capable of performing without putting your health and well-being at risk.
Contact Our Seattle Workers’ Compensation Lawyers for a Free Consultation
At The Walthew Law Firm, our Seattle workers’ comp attorneys are skilled, results-driven advocates for injured workers and their family members. We can help you navigate the workers’ comp claims process. If you have any specific questions about changing jobs while on workers’ comp, our legal team is available to help. Call us today or connect with us online for a free, no obligation case evaluation. We represent injured workers throughout Washington, including in Tacoma, Everett, Bellevue, Renton Federal Way, Redmond, Lakewood, Lynnwood, and Puyallup.