Self-Insured Claim Closure Fix

Kelly Early shaking hands with Governor Inslee

Sometimes, workers who are injured on the job do not receive closing orders issued by the Department of Labor & Industries. When this happens, the claim closure is not final and binding, which leaves the employer fiscally vulnerable for retroactive payment of benefits including time loss compensation, medical treatment, vocational services, and legal expenses.

In the past year and a half, Capital Region ESD 113 Workers’ Comp Trust has paid $20,000 in legal fees to defend claim closures that workers said they never received. At the end of the 2019 legislative session, Governor Jay Inslee signed SB 5474 to help fix that problem.

The Legislature calls this repair an “efficiency” bill. Self-insured employers are now allowed to serve a copy of the Department of Labor & Industries closing order to its injured workers. This provides the employer certainty that its employee has received the closing orders. This revision in the statute allows self-insured employers to serve copies of L & I issued closing orders to its workers, ensuring more effective communication.