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Understanding how workers’ comp works

In addition to claims assistance, WSLC’s Project HELP offers workshops explaining Washington’s safety net for injured workers


SEATTLE (April 19, 2023) — The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO has touted its Project HELP program, which educates injured workers and provides individual one-on-one workers’ compensation claims guidance, on a previous WSLC Wednesday. Another service Project HELP provides is training for groups of workers about the system and their rights and responsibilities if they are injured at work.

In the past year, Project HELP conducted more than 70 workshops for unions, apprenticeship programs, and community organizations like the Fair Work Center, Casa Latina, and the Red Cross. In recent weeks, Project HELP workshops have been held for members of the Drivers Union (Teamsters 117) and for apprentices in the Northwest Laborers-Employers Training (NWLETT) and Meat Cutters (UFCW 3000) programs.

Project HELP’s Jessica Gallardo conducts a workshop for LiUNA apprentices on March 31.

These workshops cover the basics, including what workers’ compensation is, what to do if you get injured on the job, and how to file a claim. They also explain the difference between a state-fund and self-insured employer, how wage-replacement benefits are calculated, when light-duty work is an option, how to appeal a claim that’s been denied, and much more.

Importantly, it’s an opportunity to ask questions and get answers from the experts. Questions like:

Do I have to let my employer choose my doctor? Answer: Workers have the right to choose any health-care provider for the initial visit to file a claim. For the second visit and beyond, workers have the right to choose their medical provider within the L&I Medical Provider Network.

Can undocumented workers file workers’ compensation claims? Answer: Yes, they can, regardless of their immigration status.

If you don’t file a claim right away, is it too late to do so later? Answer: Injured workers have one year from the date of injury to file a claim.

“Many of the workers who call us requesting assistance with their individual claims have basic questions of the kind we answer routinely in our workshops,” said Project HELP Director Jessica Gallardo. “I feel that if more workers have this general information before they suffer a work-related injury, they would have better success navigating the process.”

If your organization, union or apprenticeship program would like to arrange a workers’ compensation workshop, contact Project HELP at 1-800-255-9752 or via this email form. If you or a loved one have been injured on the job or developed a medical condition from the performance of job duties, you need to be proactive about ensuring your “sure and certain relief” in the workers’ compensation system. Contact Project HELP today!

For more information about Project HELP’s services, download its English and Spanish brochure, or visit its website.


WSLC Wednesdays is a feature of The Stand where different departments of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO describe their recent activities and the services they are providing to WSLC-affiliated unions.


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