Washington requires all employers to have workers comp insurance for employees, with only a few exceptions.

Workers compensation insurance typically pays some lost income and the medical bills for a worker who's injured while doing a job-related task. Work injuries that can be covered by workers comp might range from stress and anxiety to burns to muscle injuries.

Washington workers compensation law stipulates who must be covered, who can be exempt from coverage and the limits of workers compensation payments. Below are many of the specifics contained in the workers comp law in Washington. The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries also has a page with helpful information for employers.

Who must be covered by Washington workers compensation?

Can any employees opt out of Washington workers compensation with a waiver?

Yes - corporate officers, sole proprietors and children on family farms can opt out.


Is self-insurance for workers comp allowed in Washington?

Yes, for individual employers, groups of employers and political subdivisions. Political subdivisions in Washington are typically the state or a city, county, special district, school district or public agency.

By self-insuring, a business assumes responsibility for paying their own workers comp claims. A self-insured company typically hires a claims service company to manage claims administration and other services.


Are there exclusions for:

Small employers? No.

Agricultural employers? Yes, coverage is not required if a child under 18 years old is employed by parents on a family farm, and an 18 to 21 year old on a family farm may be excluded.

Domestic employers? Yes, coverage is not required if the employer has fewer than two full-time employees.

Independent contractors? Yes, when the independent contractor has control or direction over the performance of service and service is outside the usual course of business.

Casual employees? Yes.

Volunteers? Yes, volunteers can be covered for medical aid only and employers may elect coverage for student volunteers.

Professional athletes? No.

Washington workers comp medical benefits


Is there a Washington workers comp fee schedule?

Yes.

Fee schedules define payments for surgery, radiology, hospital services, chiropractic care, ambulance service, prescription drugs and other medical services for an injured worker.


Are there limits on medical treatment?

Yes, limits of six trigger point injections; physical therapy and occupational therapy requires utilization review after 24 visits; no more than three epidural injections within six months.


Who makes the initial choice of treating physician?

The employee, though it must be with a provider from a network established by workers compensation agency (except the initial office or emergency room visit).

Disability payments for injured workers in Washington

Workers comp typically pays an employee some lost wages if they cannot work because of a job-related injury. State laws define limits on the disability payment amounts and length, based on both temporary and permanent disability.


How are temporary total disability (TTD) payments calculated?

60% of the employee's pre-injury monthly wage (plus 5% if married or in a state registered domestic partnership; 2% per dependent for up to five dependents, maximum is 75%).

Weekly minimum: There are three possible minimum rates based upon the date of injury on or after July 2, 2008. 1) 15% of the statewide average monthly wage (SAMW) + $10 for each dependent child up to five children; 2) 100% of the employee's gross monthly wage; 3) minimum time-loss rate in effect prior to July 2, 2008.

Weekly maximum: $1,265.68

Maximum length of TDD benefits: For the duration of the TTD.

How are permanent total disability (PTD) payments calculated?

Depends on the option chosen by the employee.

Weekly minimum: There are three possible minimum rates based upon the date of injury on or after July 2, 2008. 1) 15% of the statewide average monthly wage (SAMW) + $10 for each dependent child up to five children; 2) 100% of the employee's gross monthly wage; 3) minimum time-loss rate in effect prior to July 2, 2008.

Weekly maximum: $1,265.68

Are there cost of living increases for PTD payments? Yes, on July 1st of each year.

Maximum length of PTD benefits: For the length of the disability and can be for life.

How are permanent partial disability (PPD) payments calculated?

When the award exceeds three times the statewide average monthly wage (SAMW), down payment made in that amount; benefits are then paid monthly based upon the TTD schedule.

Weekly minimum: There are three possible minimum rates based upon the date of injury on or after July 2, 2008. 1) 15% of the statewide average monthly wage (SAMW) + $10 for each dependent child up to five children; 2) 100% of the employee's gross monthly wage; 3) minimum time-loss rate in effect prior to July 2, 2008.

Weekly maximum: $1,279.32

Fatality benefits under Washington workers compensation law

Maximum burial benefit: $9,138.16

Dependency benefits, weekly minimum: There are three possible minimum rates based upon the date of injury on or after July 2, 2008. 1) 15% of the statewide average monthly wage (SAMW) + $10 for each dependent child up to five children; 2) 100% of the employee's gross monthly wage; 3) minimum time-loss rate in effect prior to July 2, 2008.

Dependency benefits, weekly maximum: $1,265.28

When do children's dependency benefits end? At age 18; age 23 if the child is a student; benefits can continue if child is disabled, possibly for life.

Other injuries covered by Washington workers compensation

Mental stress with no physical injury? Yes.

Cumulative trauma (such as injuries caused by repeated exposure or repetitive motion)? Yes.

Occupational hearing loss? Yes.

Disfigurement? No.

Source: Workers Compensation Research Institute, May 2016 report