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SIXTY DAYS: The deadline that should not be overlooked

Posted by Foster Law on April 2, 2013

You were injured at work or you developed an occupational disease and you filed an application for benefits. Under RCW 51.52.050, whenever the Department issues an order, decision, or award regarding a claim, it must be promptly communicated to the worker, beneficiary, employer, or any other person affected by it. In order for communication to be effective, typically the law requires that the Department's order, decision, or award be sent to the worker (or implicitly his/her authorized representative) at his/her last known address “as shown by the records of the department.” RCW 51.52.050. However, if the worker, beneficiary, employer, or other person affected so chooses, the Department may send correspondence and other legal notices by secure electronic means except for orders communicating the closure of a claim. Either way, correspondence and notices must be addressed to each person/entity at his/her last known postal or electronic address as shown by the records of the Department. Correspondence and notices sent electronically are considered received on the date sent by the Department.

If the correspondence being communicated is a final order, decision, or award, it must contain a statement set in black faced type of at least ten point body or size indicating that the final order, decision, or award shall become final within sixty days from the date the order is communicated to the parties unless a written protest is filed with the Department in Olympia, or an appeal is filed with the Board in Olympia. In addition, this statement must appear on the same side of the same page containing the amount of the award. Any time the Department communicates a final order, decision or award that a worker, beneficiary, employer, or any other person affected by it believes is incorrect, that person or entity must file a written or electronic protest to the Department or file an appeal with the Board within sixty days of communication. It is imperative that a protest or appeal of any partially or wholly disagreeable order be filed within the sixty day period. Failure to do so results in irrevocable finality of the order, decision, or award and can drastically impact the future of the claims' administration.

The Department has created instructions for protesting an order, decision or award. These instructions can be found at http://www.lni.wa.gov/ClaimsIns/Claims/Appeals/Instructions/default.asp. In the alternative, an appeal can be filed with the Board. It is important to note that the person or entity filing an appeal to the Board has the burden of proving that the order, decision, or award is incorrect. If you feel that an appeal is appropriate, an electronic appeal can be filed with the Board at http://www.biia.wa.gov/EFiling/BIIA02.asp. However, in most cases, if an appeal is necessary, it is advisable for the appealing person or entity to consult with an attorney.

At Foster Law, P.C. we are expert, we are fierce, and we are compassionate. Our team offers decades of experience to helping literally thousands of injured workers obtain the benefits that are so crucial to maintaining their welfare and that of their families. If you have any questions or concerns about protesting or appealing a Department order, decision or award, or any other aspect of workers' compensation law in this state, we invite you to contact us. Initial consultations are complimentary. Don't leave your workers' compensation claim to chance; consult with experts.

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