Some information about the workers compensation system in the District of Columbia

1.  The agency in charge of administrating and adjudicating the claims is the:

DC Department of Employment Services
Labor Standards Bureau
Office of Workers' Compensation
4058 Minnesota Avenue, NE, Third Floor
Washington, DC 20019
Phone: (202) 671-1000

2.    Injured workers are supposed to notify their employers and provide written notice of their injury to the employer and the Office of Workers Compensation within thirty (30) days of  the date of their injury or within thirty (30) days of the date they became aware of the injury and its connection to work.  There are some exceptions to this requirement which can extend the time within which you must notify the employer.  

3.  Injured workers are supposed to file a completed “Employees Claim Application” with the Office of Workers Compensation within one year of the date of injury or death.  There are also some exceptions to this requirement.  

4.  Under D.C. law, the employer has to provide the injured worker with wage loss pay, medical treatment, vocational rehabilitation (if necessary), and benefits for permanent injury, disfigurement and/or death (if applicable).  The amount of benefits can vary significantly in each case and the expert assistance of an attorney can help you pursue the maximum benefits available in your particular situation.  

5.  Benefits are paid to the injured workers based upon their “Average Weekly Wage.”  The Average Weekly Wage is figured by determining the gross average weekly wage earned by the injured employee over the twenty-six (26) weeks prior to the work injury.  In the event the injured employee had multiple jobs, the gross pay from all of these jobs may be included to determine the Average Weekly Wage --  even though the injured worker was only injured on one of the jobs.  Average Weekly Wage may also include benefits provided to the injured employee in addition to wages.   

6.  Once the Average Weekly Wage is figured, the injured worker will be paid at his or her “Compensation Rate” which is 66 2/3rds of the Average Weekly Wage.  This amount is paid to the injured worker and is tax free.  

7.  Injured workers are entitled to choose their own doctor but, once they choose their doctor, there are some restrictions limiting your ability to change to a different doctor.  

8.  Injured workers are entitled to receive a permanent (partial or total) disability award for any continuing problems or disfigurement that they may have after their medical treatment has essentially been concluded.  These awards vary significantly and the expert assistance of an attorney can help pursue the maximum benefits available under the law.  

9.   While you may pursue a settlement of your claim, you do not have to in order to receive a permanent disability award.  You may receive a permanent disability award and keep all of your rights to future medical treatment open and, in some cases, the right to seek additional monetary benefits in the future as well (subject to several limitations).  

10.  As you can see, there are significant benefits available to the injured employee in the District of Columbia.  The insurance companies that provide these benefits to the injured employee have attorneys and seek to use all of the available provisions of the law in order to minimize what they ultimately have to pay in these cases.  It is vitally important to seek good legal counsel to help protect your rights and maximize your benefits.