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Is Your Injury or Illness Work-Related?

Posted by Christine Foster on February 9, 2015

Determine whether or not your injury or illness stems from work activity.

If you get hurt or sick on the job, you will qualify for workers' compensation benefits as long as you can prove that your injury or illness is work-related. Generally speaking, you must be able to prove that you were doing something for the benefit of your employer and that it resulted in your injury or illness. In addition, you must meet other eligibility requirements to receive workers' compensation benefits.

Workers' compensation covers injured workers' medical bills in addition to providing a portion of their lost wages. Workers' compensation also offers temporary disability benefits, permanent disability benefits, death benefits, and more. In Washington State, you're eligible to receive workers' compensation if you meet the following criteria:

  • Your injury happened at a definite time and place at work
  • You are an employee of the person or company (independent contractors usually aren't covered)
  • The Washington Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) or a self-insured employer provides you with coverage

In many cases, it's easy to prove that an injury or illness is work-related. For example, if you have developed carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of typing all day at your desk job, then your injury will likely be considered work-related and you will qualify for workers' compensation benefits. Similarly, if you injure your back at your warehouse job or become ill after being exposed to hazardous chemicals, your injury or illness would also be considered work-related.

The process of determining whether an injury or illness is work-related can be tricky at times, however. For example, let's say you were driving to a local restaurant to pick up lunch during your lunch break and you got into an accident and injured your neck. In this case, you wouldn't be able to get workers' compensation benefits because you sustained an injury during your lunch break and it wasn't connected to your job in any way. However, if you were picking up lunch for your boss, then your injury would likely be covered. Another similar example is if you become injured while at an office picnic. The injury happened off-site but it had a connection to your job, so it would be covered.

Any time your company sponsors special events, like picnics or outings, injuries sustained at these events are considered work-related. If you are injured while commuting to and from work, however, your injury probably won't be covered, unless you're using a company car. If you're traveling for work reasons, such as on a business trip, any injuries you sustain will likely be considered work-related.

If you have a pre-existing condition and your job aggravates it, your injury will likely be covered by workers' compensation benefits. Although your job didn't cause the initial injury, it caused the injury to recur. Sometimes, figuring out on your own whether an injury is covered by workers' compensation isn't so easy. Discussing your situation with an attorney can help to ensure that you'll receive the benefits you deserve.

Set up a Free Initial Consultation with a Seattle Workers' Compensation Attorney

For more information about whether your injury or illness would qualify you for workers' compensation benefits, please get in touch with Foster Law, P.C. We are a Seattle workers' compensation law firm that can help you prove to L&I or your employer that your injury or illness is work-related. Please contact us today by calling 206-682-3436 or filling out our online contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.

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