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Is Workers’ Comp Required in Washington State?

May 20, 2022

Is Workers’ Comp Required in Washington State?

If you work in Washington State, you may wonder if your employer is required to provide you with workers’ compensation benefits in the event you are injured on the job or develop an occupational disease

When is Workers’ Comp Required?

Under Washington State law, every employer that has one or more employees are required to offer workers’ compensation coverage to their employees. This includes employers who only employ part-time or seasonal employees.

Exemptions to the Workers’ Comp Requirement

Certain businesses are not required to provide workers’ compensation. These include sole proprietors who have no employees, or partnerships or LLCs where only the partners or members work for the business. However, these businesses still have the option of obtaining workers’ compensation coverage.

In addition, Washington State law also exempts certain employees from workers’ compensation coverage, including:

  • Domestic workers if a private residence has only one worker, and the employee does not work more than 40 hours per week
  • Gardening, maintenance, and repair workers employees in private residences
  • Musicians and entertainers for certain events
  • Minor children employed by their parents for farm work
  • Barbers and cosmetologists who rent or lease space

Finally, certain categories of employees in Washington State are covered by federal workers’ compensation systems rather than the state workers’ comp system, including military service members, federal employees, maritime workers, and railroad workers.

How Does Workers’ Compensation Insurance Work in Washington State? 

Washington State is one of four “monopolistic” states in the U.S. when it comes to workers’ compensation. Unlike most other states where employers who are required to offer workers’ compensation coverage will purchase insurance from private insurance companies, employers in Washington State instead must purchase workers’ compensation insurance from a state fund administered by the Department of Labor & Industries. This state fund is funded by premiums paid by member employers, not from general tax revenues. L&I accordingly administers all workers’ compensation claims filed by injured and ill employees in Washington State, with any workers’ comp benefits required by employees paid out of the state fund. 

However, certain employers in Washington State have the option of self-insuring for workers’ compensation. Employers that have at least $25 million in assets and have established a formal accident prevention program can seek certification from L&I to self-insure. Self-insured employers, therefore, become responsible for paying any workers’ compensation benefits that their employees become entitled to. 

Employers who fail to comply with the requirement to provide workers’ compensation coverage may be subject to fines. 

The workers’ compensation system in Washington State can provide employees who suffer work injuries or occupational diseases with certain financial benefits, which can include:

  • Payment for medical care and rehabilitation
  • Reimbursement of certain travel costs for medical appointments and procedures
  • Reimbursement of property that was damaged or lost in a work accident
  • Permanent disability payments
  • Job retraining and vocational counseling if an employee cannot return to their old job
  • Death benefits for the family of an employee who passes away due to a work injury or occupational disease

Contact a Rochester Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Workplace Injury Case in Washington State

Were you or a loved one injured due to a workplace accident in Washington State? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive workers’ compensation attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Smith Duran Law represent clients injured in Olympia, Lakewood, Auburn, and University Place. Call (360) 273-5941 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 10118 Highway 12 SW, Rochester, WA, 98579, as well as offices in Tacoma.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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    The Department of Labor and Industries manages claims for injuries at work. You are entitled to money for lost wages, medical treatment, vocational retraining, loss of body function, and in some cases a pension

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    If your injury was caused by someone other than a co‑worker, an auto accident, or defective equipment, you may be entitled to additional compensation. Our attorney will evaluate your case.

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