If you are injured at work, there are two very important things to do immediately: get medical help, and tell your employer.

Workers' compensation pays for medical care directly related to your accident or illness. If you are unable to work following your injury, you may be eligible for a portion of your lost wages. Most important, L&I or your selfinsured employer may help coordinate a safe and timely return to work.

Get Medical Help

Many falls, cuts, and sprains can become serious injuries if they aren’t treated. Get first aid at your workplace; all employers in Washington are required to provide a first-aid kit. If further treatment is necessary, go to the emergency room or health‑care provider of your choice and tell them you were injured at work.

What to expect from your medical provider

Your doctor will:

  • Certify whether your injury is work-related
  • Help you file a workers’ compensation claim
  • Work with you to decide when you can return to work
  • Recommend any further treatment you may need

If you need medical care after the first visit

For your second visit and beyond, you will need to see a provider in our network. If your regular health care provider is not in our network, encourage them to join, or choose a new one with our Find a Doctor tool.

You may choose any doctor who is qualified to treat your injury, as long as they are in our network. You also may get a second medical opinion if your claim manager approves it. You can change providers at any time and/or communicate with your claim manager via our online portal, My L&I.

My employer wants to choose my doctor or send someone with me

You may see a company doctor if you wish, but you have the right to choose your doctor and also to decide who, if anyone, you want to accompany you to the doctor. You have the right to decline to have the company nurse or any employer representative accompany you to the hospital, doctor, or any other medical visit.

Your employer can't discriminate or retaliate against you. Contact us if you need assistance.

Tell Your Employer

Tell your employer right away if you are injured on the job or diagnosed with an occupational disease. Employers need to be familiar with the situation when the L&I paperwork arrives so that they can help you plan your return to work.

The sooner you are able to return to work after an injury, whether in a light-duty or modified job (with your doctor's OK), the more likely you are to recover and earn your pre-injury salary.

What to expect from your employer

Your employer needs to:

  • Make sure you receive prompt medical attention.
  • Complete the employer section of the accident report form. 
  • Look for return-to-work opportunities with light-duty work, if medically approved. This can help maintain your salary, and speed your recovery, while keeping claim costs down for them.
  • Your employer has the right to access your claim file, including mental health information. An employer can only reveal your mental health condition(s) or treatment to people who are authorized to access the information.  If you believe your confidential mental health information has been shared with unauthorized people, please let us know

Talk to your employer about reimbursements available through our Stay at Work program. They may be eligible for reimbursements for some of your base wages and expenses such as training and tools related to the light-duty work.

I can’t do my job due to my injury

If you have work restrictions, your doctor will explain them on the Activity Prescription Form (F242‑385‑000). If you are unable to perform your regular job while you are recovering, your employer may be able to find you transitional or light-duty work within your medical restrictions. This can make it easier for you to get back to your original work and wages when you have recovered.

My injury wasn’t my employer’s fault

Washington is a no-fault state, so L&I will cover an allowable claim for a workplace injury regardless of who is at fault. This rule also applies to self‑insured employers.

I’m concerned about telling my employer

Your employer may not discriminate or retaliate against you for

  • Filing a claim.
  • Saying that you plan to file a claim.
  • Seeking workers' compensation benefits.

If your employer has discouraged you from filing a claim, you may file a Workers’ Compensation Claims Suppression Complaint Form (F262‑024‑000).

I’m concerned about costing my employer money

Workers’ compensation covers injuries that happen on the job, and unless your work meets strict exemption rules, your employer is required to provide this coverage. The best way to help everyone save money is by keeping open communication with your employer when you are injured.

Wage replacement benefits do not cover 100% of your wages if you are unable to work. Talking openly with your employer allows them to help you return to paid work while you are still healing, if permitted by your doctor. In many cases, this can reduce the impact on their rates while also helping you heal and keep earning wages.

My employer is self-insured

If your employer is self‑insured, your rights and benefit entitlement don't change, but who manages your claim and the process is different. L&I maintains a list of self-insured employers.

Your employer or their representative handles your paperwork and pays for the claim. They will give you a Self‑Insurer Accident Report (SIF‑2) form. Fill out the form completely and return it to your employer or their representative. The doctor will complete a Physician's Initial Report (PIR) (F207‑028‑000) and mail it to your self‑insured employer's claim representative.

About one-third of all Washington employees work for self‑insured employers. See A Guide to Industrial Insurance Benefits for Employees of Self-insured Businesses (F207‑085‑000) to better understand employee benefits.

If you disagree with how your self‑insured employer or their representative is managing your claim, contact our Self-Insurance Program to find your L&I claim manager so you can contact them directly.

I was the victim of a crime at work

If you were a victim of a crime at work, you may be want to file an additional claim with our Crime Victims Compensation Program.