Washington Workers' Compensation laws & safety compliance analysis

Washington Workers' Compensation: What you need to know

Who Is Covered?

Virtually all employees, both public and private, must be covered by workers' compensation insurance, called "industrial insurance" in the state of Washington (WA Stat. Sec. 51.12.010). The only exceptions are the following types of workers (WA Stat. Sec. 51.12.020):

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• Domestic servants

• Insurance agents, real estate brokers, investment company agents, solicitors paid by commission

• Home repair and gardening workers

• Railroad workers

• Farm workers under the age of 18 (and in some circumstances under the age of 21) working for parents on family farms (parents must file written notice of noncoverage)

• Farm workers earning less than $150 per quarter from one employer

• Jockeys

• Casual workers employed outside the usual course of the employer's business

• Interstate truckers who are covered under federal law

• People who work in exchange for aid from charitable or religious organizations

• Sole proprietors and partners and corporate officers who are shareholder/directors and who elect coverage

• Entertainers who work at specific engagements and are not regularly employed by the person who engaged them

• News carriers

• Members of certain limited liability companies

Exempt employers may elect to provide coverage, but no employer or employee may elect not to be covered, and agreements to waive coverage are unenforceable (WA Stat. Sec. 51.04.010).

What Is Covered?

"No-fault" system. Workers' compensation is a "no-fault" system. Unlike traditional legal mechanisms for compensating accident victims--which limit recovery to cases in which the victim's injuries result from some other person's negligence--workers' compensation laws allow employees to collect without regard to fault, simply by showing that the injury arose ...


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