If you are a farmworker in Washington, you have the right to workers’ compensation, but you may encounter difficulties navigating your claim with the Department of Labor and Industries.
Pursuing workers’ compensation claims is challenging for most people, but farmworkers often experience particularly difficult struggles with their claims, for several key reasons.
Language barriers may add challenges
If you are a foreign-born farmworker in Washington, language barriers and lack of financial resources can make the workers’ compensation process difficult, according to The Yakima Herald-Republic. You may worry that the health care system and your employer will not adequately address your on-the-job injuries so you can care for your family while you are unable to work.
Filing claims requires significant documentation
Filing a worker’s compensation claim requires documentation of the location where the injury happened, the contact information of witnesses, information about your employer, wage information, names and birthdates of dependents and names of doctors and hospitals who provided treatment. Gathering this information may prove difficult, particularly when English is your second language.
Maintaining contact through the process may be difficult
While the state processes workers’ compensation claims, you may receive communication from a claim manager, health care providers, the employer or vocational experts. If you move to a new address or change doctors, you must notify the state promptly, or else the process may become even more complicated. And many farmworkers believe they do not have adequate opportunity to dispute decisions related to their claim.
Existing resources may not be sufficient
The Washington State Labor Council and the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries offer counseling for farmworkers who need help with a workers’ compensation claim. These resources may prove helpful to you if language barriers or other problems discourage you from pursuing your claim.