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.