In 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics noted private-industry employers in Washington State reported 78,200 non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses. During the same year, 83 workplace deaths were reported.
Your employer is responsible for ensuring the safety of your workplace. Your employer may be liable if an injury or death occurs while you are on the job. If you or a loved one has suffered a workplace injury, or a family member has died while at work, an experienced attorney can evaluate your options for recovering damages from those at fault.
Below are some frequently asked questions about workplace injuries in Washington State.
What are the steps to take after a workplace injury?
Regardless of the severity of your workplace injury, get medical attention immediately, and tell your medical provider you were injured at work. Afterward, it is important you take the following steps:
- Report your injury to your employer.
- Write down a detailed description of how you were injured, including what happened before and after you were injured.
- Apply for workers’ compensation with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).
- Ask for additional information to fully document your case, including your full medical records related to the workplace injury, any input from other witnesses, and photos of the workplace and any resulting damage.
- Keep all documents sent to/from your employer and others involved in the case.
- Talk with an experienced workplace injury attorney to discuss the details of your case and possible recoverable damages from your employer.
How do you determine if an injury is work-related?
Washington State is a “no-fault” state when it comes to workplace injuries, so it does not matter who or what caused your injury. You are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you were injured while working.
Your medical provider will assess your injuries and certify whether the injury is work-related. Additionally, they will help you file a workers’ compensation claim, determine when/if you can return to work and recommend any additional treatment(s) you may need.
Should you be afraid to report workplace injuries?
No, you should not be afraid to report workplace injuries. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), your employer cannot retaliate against you for reporting workplace injuries and safety violations.
What happens if you don’t report an injury at work?
Washington State does not require you, as an employee, to report an injury at work. Your employer will be notified when you file your workers’ compensation claim with L&I.
How do you identify workplace safety issues?
OSHA notes one of the root causes of workplace injuries “… is the failure to identify or recognize hazards that are present or that could have been anticipated.”
Employers and employees alike are responsible for identifying, assessing and reporting workplace safety issues. Be aware of your workplace surroundings and what things can make them unsafe (wet, unmarked floors; improper chemical storage; etc.). Some hazards, like housekeeping and tripping hazards, should be reported and addressed immediately. OSHA also recommends the following for employers and employees:
- Collect and review information about the hazards present or likely to be present in the workplace.
- Conduct initial and periodic inspections of the workplace to identify new or recurring hazards.
- Investigate injuries, illnesses, incidents and close calls/near misses to determine the underlying hazards, their causes, and safety and health program shortcomings.
- Group similar incidents and identify trends in injuries, illnesses and hazards reported.
- Consider hazards associated with emergency or nonroutine situations.
- Determine the severity and likelihood of incidents that could result from each hazard identified, and use this information to prioritize corrective actions.
Does workers’ compensation cover mental health?
Yes, workers’ compensation covers mental health if:
- You experienced mental stress or psychiatric injury due to a work-related physical injury or stress
- Your work-related illness or injury made an existing mental illness worse
How long do I have to sue for a workplace injury in Washington State?
If you are injured at work, you must file a claim within one year. If you are suffering from a condition caused (at least in part) by your work, you have two years to file starting from the date you were given written notice of your diagnosis or from the date you were informed by your medical provider that you can file for disability benefits.
How PCVA can help
PCVA’s experienced attorneys can help you understand your options for pursuing compensation and damages from those responsible for workplace injuries and/or deaths. If you would like to speak with a PCVA lawyer, complete our online form or call us at (253) 948-3199 or (206) 536-2850.
How much does PCVA charge?
Our work is done on a contingency basis. This means that you do not pay us on an hourly basis, and we advance the costs of litigation. If we help you resolve your case, we receive a percentage of the amount you receive, and you reimburse us for the costs we advanced on your behalf.