Governor Jay Inslee and and L&I Director Joel Sacks issued a press release concerning the Department’s policy on workers’ compensation coverage related to exposures to Coronavirus on the job.
The primary news is for health care workers and first responders who are quarantined by a physician or public health officer. Under the clarified policy, workers’ compensation benefits must be provided benefits to these workers during the time they’re quarantined after being exposed to COVID-19 on the job. The policy also applies to others who may have accepted claims for exposure to COVID-19; for example, those who are not considered health care workers but are working in facilities with documented exposures or others whose claims may be approved.
As a reminder, answers to the following questions must be considered for workers who file claims and are not working in jobs or at facilities where exposure would be routinely expected:
Was there an increased risk or greater likelihood of exposure or contracting the disease due to the worker’s occupation (first responders or health care workers)?
If not for their job, would the worker have been exposed or contracted the condition?
Can the worker identify a specific source or event during their employment that resulted in exposure to COVID-19/Coronavirus on the job?
When exposure to or contraction of the disease is incidental to the workplace or common to all employment (for example, an office worker who may have been exposed through a fellow employee, or a waitress through a customer), the claim will likely be denied.
How to File, and What to Do if Your Claim is Denied
Our suggestion to those that are diagnosed with COVID-19, and believe that they were exposed to the Coronavirus on the job, especially as a healthcare worker or first responder, is to file a claim with the Department of Labor and Industries. A claim can be:
- Filed online
- By phone: 1-877-561-FILE (3453)
- At your doctor’s office (if you complete the Report of Accident at your doctor’s office, the doctor files the form for you)
You can watch a DLI video that describes the process for filing a claim if you need more information about the process.
As with any claim decision, the Department of Labor and Industries will issue an Order and Notice stating that your claim was denied. You have sixty (60) days within which to file a written protest or appeal if you disagree with the decision. A protest can be faxed, mailed or submitted to the Department online. If no protest or appeal is filed within 60 days from the date you received the order, the decision becomes final and binding on all parties.
If you have questions or if your claim should be denied, please feel free to contact our firm for assistance. We offer a free case analysis, and would be happy to discuss the circumstances you are facing with you.