Posted by Tara J. Reck on October 28, 2014
Do you disagree with the outcome of your workers' compensation claim? If you disagree with a workers' compensation claim decision made by the Washington Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), you can file a “Protest and Request for Reconsideration” to appeal. There is no particular form used to do this. You simply write a letter to the adjudicator listed on the order you dispute, stating the reasons why you disagree. The first page of the order will have the address to which you must send the dispute. You cannot phone in your protest – your protest must be in writing and include the following information:
L&I must receive your written protest within 60 calendar days of the date you received the decision. If the decision was regarding vocational benefits, L&I must receive your written protest within 15 days. If you don't submit your written protest within this time, the decision will be final and you will lose your right to be heard.
Within approximately 60 days of receiving your written protest, L&I will issue another order that either affirms, modifies, or reverses the previous order. If you disagree with the new order, you have the right to appeal the decision to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals (BIIA).
Hiring an Attorney to File a Workers' Compensation Appeal
You do not need to hire an attorney to file a workers' compensation appeal, but you might want to consider doing so due to the complexity of such cases. More importantly, the other parties, such as your employer or L&I, will have legal counsel. Hiring an attorney to represent you can increase the chances that you'll win your claim. For the best results, work with a workers' compensation attorney in Seattle who is highly familiar with the workers' compensation system in the state.
Filing an appeal with BIIA is free, but you are responsible for paying your own litigation expenses if a hearing is held. Once BIIA receives your appeal, a copy will be sent to L&I. If L&I decides to reconsider your case, BIIA will send the case back to L&I, which will take further action. If BIIA hears your case, you are sent an order granting appeal.
The first step after you file an appeal with BIIA is typically a mediation conference, during which you and your employer or L&I representatives will work with a mediator to try to reach a settlement. The mediation conference is an informal meeting that could be held in person or over the phone. If both parties reach a settlement or you dismiss the appeal, BIIA issues an order resolving the appeal.
If the issue cannot be resolved in a mediation conference, the case will go to court. During the hearing, both you and the other party will present evidence, typically through witness testimony. Your doctor may be required to testify on your behalf. The judge will then issue a decision based on the evidence presented. At the hearing level, it's absolutely critical to have an attorney represent you. A Seattle workers' compensation attorney can negotiate on your behalf, obtain witnesses, and make objections.
Successfully filling a workers' compensation appeal requires legal expertise and skill. The sooner you obtain the services of an attorney, the better prepared your attorney will be when it comes time to present evidence supporting your case. Foster Law, P.C. has extensive experience obtaining workers' compensation benefits for workers who have been injured or become ill on the job. We've handled claims for a wide range of L&I cases. Please call 206-682-3436 to schedule a free consultation with our workers' compensation lawyers in Seattle.