Sometimes injured workers need to move during the pendency of their L&I or private insurance workers’ compensation claim. It so happens that sometimes they believe they are not “allowed” to move because they have an open claim. This simply isn’t true. Injured workers have the right to move for any reason during their claim process. For the most part, the claim can continue to progress as normal. However, there are a few things I think it is important for Washington State injured workers to know if they are contemplating moving.
First, it is critical to maintain an attending provider or attending physician (AP). Out of state providers are not required to be part of the L&I Medical Provider Network (MPN). However, they are required to obtain an L&I provider number for billing purposes. Obtaining an L&I provider number isn’t a terribly difficult task. But it does take someone within the doctor’s office completing a fairly lengthy application. You might be surprised how many out of state providers already have L&I provider numbers when asked. Therefore, I always encourage injured workers to do a little research before moving.
It’s important to try and find a provider that will be willing to obtain a provider number if needed and take over as the AP on the claim. Instructions and the application for obtaining a provider number can be found on the L&I website. It is important to be prepared to assist the provider’s office in completing and submitting the application. This way, they will not be deterred by the application process.
Second, it is important for injured workers to consider how the move might impact their current or future employment prospects. For injured workers that are working, even if in a light-duty capacity, quitting a job for a move may result in the Department of Labor and Industries denying time-loss compensation benefits after the move because the injured worker would have been employable. Additionally, the new location will become the injured worker’s new labor market. If insufficient employment options are available in the new location, it could make it difficult for an able-bodied injured worker to get back to work.
Finally, I always encourage injured workers to think about whether the move is truly in their best interest. The cost of living in many parts of Washington is high, and I understand why injured workers might need to move. For example, to be in an area with a lower cost of living or closer to a support network as they recover form their industrially related conditions. However, moving when you are healthy is difficult enough let alone when you are still recovering from an industrial injury. Therefore, it is important to carefully weight the decision to move before making a hasty call.
If you are an injured worker considering a move out of state, you might want to consult the L&I Website for more information. Either way, it is good practice for injured workers who move out of state to have an attorney experienced Washington State workers’ compensation claims represent them. Attorneys can ensure that claim related requirements are met and can help to address any complications that may arise.