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Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between the BIIA and the Department of Labor and Industries?

Among other things, the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) is the state agency that administers the workers' compensation fund. L&I determines what benefits are to be provided to an injured worker.

The Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals (BIIA) is a separate state agency that is independent from L&I. The BIIA reviews L&I's determinations when there is an appeal by interested parties.

The BIIA operates like a court to decide the case.

How do I file an appeal?

You are encouraged to file an appeal electronically here, Electronically filed documents are more quickly processed. Other methods for filing an appeal can be found here.

Did you get my appeal?

If you file your appeal electronically, you will receive an email notification that your appeal was successfully received. When we receive an appeal, we assign a docket number and mail a Notice of Receipt of Appeal to all parties. If you do not receive your Notice of Receipt of Appeal, you may call us at 360-753-6823 or 800-442-0447.

How many days does L&I have to respond to an appeal once it has been filed with the BIIA?

In workers' benefits appeals, L&I must either:

  • Send its record to the BIIA, which permits the appeal to proceed; or
  • Change or reverse the order under appeal; or
  • Advise the BIIA that they will reconsider their decision.

The BIIA has 60 days to decide whether the appeal will be granted. L&I must respond to the appeal within this time frame.

May I have a copy of the appeal?

If the appeal is granted, we will send all parties a copy of the appeal with the Order Granting Appeal. If you would like a copy of the appeal sooner, please call us at 360-753-6823 or 800-442-0447.

An appeal has just been filed. I have additional information that may not be in L&I's file. Should I send it to the BIIA?

No. We do not need any additional information to make the decision to grant or deny the appeal. If the appeal is granted, you should provide the new information during the mediation process.

You indicate that I filed an appeal, but I did not, and neither did my attorney. How did this happen?

This can happen if a medical provider files a letter disagreeing with a recent L&I decision regarding a worker's entitlement to benefits. In most instances we will treat this as an appeal filed on behalf of a worker and identify it as a "claimant's" appeal. Or, you or your attorney may have sent something to the Department that the Department forwarded to us as an appeal.

I did not file this appeal. Do I need to come to the conference or hearing?

If you did not file the appeal, you may choose whether to participate in the conferences and/or hearings. If you choose not to participate, it is possible that your interests could be substantially affected by the outcome of the appeal. In some instances, the outcome of the appeal might not have any effect on you. If you have an opinion concerning the outcome of an appeal, you should participate in order to voice your opinion.

If a provider files an appeal, are they expected to participate?

If the provider filed the appeal on their own behalf, they are required to participate in the appeal process. If the provider filed the appeal on behalf of the worker, the worker should participate if the appeal involves further benefits the worker wants to receive. If the provider does not plan to participate, they should notify the BIIA in writing. A letter can be filed electronically here.

Payment of Benefits in an Employer Appeal

The law provides for continued benefits during an employer appeal. The law also allows the employer to request those benefits be stayed (stopped) by filing a motion within 15 days after the appeal is granted. The employer's motion should specifically request that benefits be stayed during the appeal process. This law does not affect appeals filed by injured workers. The BIIA will decide to grant or deny the motion based on only the information in the L&I file as it existed on the date of the order on appeal. New medical or vocational information in the file or offered by the parties in connection with the motion cannot be considered.

Do I need an attorney?

If your case goes to hearing, you should consider hiring an attorney. The judge cannot act as your attorney and cannot represent your interests.

Your attorney:

  • Can discuss your case and concerns with you.
  • Can negotiate with the opposing party to reach an acceptable settlement.
  • Will be responsible for scheduling and questioning witnesses.

However, you can represent yourself or hire a lay representative. Lay representatives for injured workers or crime victims may not charge a fee or otherwise be compensated. WAC 263-12- 020(3)(a)(iii). You or your lay representative will be held to the same expectations of an attorney for following the civil rules and procedures.

Can I bring someone with me to a proceeding?

You can bring an attorney to represent you, or a family member, friend, or union representative to help you.

Will the BIIA provide an interpreter to parties unable to communicate in English?

Yes. We will provide an interpreter, at no expense to the parties, for all proceedings involving the non-English speaking party.

What is the difference between mediation and hearings?

Mediation is a process where a neutral person (mediator) facilitates communication between the parties, with the goal of resolving their dispute. The hearing process is a formal litigation stage where the judge will make a decision based on the witness's testimony and the evidence presented. See Steps of the appeal process for more information.

Why do some parties request to attend mediation conferences by telephone?

Sometimes parties are not available to travel, but they are still interested in finding a way to resolve the case. Rather than delay the case by rescheduling the conference, we will often allow parties to appear by phone.

Can I submit medical reports instead of having to pay a doctor to testify?

In most cases, a doctor will be required to appear in person to testify. Doctor's notes and letters may not be received into evidence if a party objects to it. Each party is responsible for arranging for their doctors and other witnesses to testify, and for paying witness fees.

A doctor's testimony is required if a party is requesting or challenging the following benefits:

  • Allowance of the claim, or acceptance of medical conditions
  • Reopening of the claim for aggravation of an industrially related condition
  • Further proper and necessary medical and surgical services
  • Payment of unpaid medical bills
  • Time-loss compensation
  • Loss of earning power
  • Permanent partial disability
  • Permanent total disability

Can my employer appeal an L&I decision that awarded me benefits?

Yes, workers, beneficiaries, employers, or other parties affected by an L&I decision may appeal to the BIIA. [See RCW 51.52.050]

Why do I have to call the Olympia office when my judge is located somewhere else?

Judges may be assisted by staff in more than one location. It is best to call the Olympia office at 360-753-6823 or 800-442-0447 to determine who can assist you.

Why is my judge located in Olympia when you have an office in my area?

Our headquarters is in Olympia. We have regional offices around the state, but the majority of our staff is located in Olympia.

Why can I speak to the judge in mediation, but not in hearings?

The hearings judge as the decision maker is not allowed to speak to parties separately; this is known as ex parte contact. The hearings judge considers only admissible evidence presented during the hearing. It would be unfair for one party to discuss the case with the hearing judge without all parties being present. A mediation judge helps the parties reach an agreement. The mediator will not decide the case.

May I speak to a Board member about a case?

As the final decision makers, the Board members cannot speak to any party about an active case.

After the last hearing, how long before a decision is made and issued?

It takes approximately four weeks from the last hearing date or deposition for us to receive the transcript. It is our goal that judges issue decisions as soon as possible after all transcripts are received. This generally takes between 20-60 days. At times, due to the complexity of the appeal, it may take longer.

Now that the BIIA has issued its final order, when am I going to receive my benefits?

L&I or the self-insured employer is obligated to pay benefits ordered by the BIIA within a reasonable processing period from the receipt of our order. Follow this link for information on checking the status of a claim with L&I: Claim Status at the Department of Labor and Industries

Do I need to send the BIIA anything regarding my superior court appeal?

Yes. Send us a copy of the superior court appeal, including the superior court cause number assigned to the appeal. You may send it to us electronically here. Please check with us before sending any other documents.

What do I do with the Jurisdictional History?

You should have the Jurisdictional History with you for each event involving a judge.

What is the appropriate format for a media exhibit in compliance with
WAC 263-12-116(2)(c)?

Currently, the only acceptable format is MP4 (MPEG-4 Part 14).

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