Why it’s important to understand legal jargon
Alphabet soup? Or maybe Alpha-Bits cereal was more your flavor (sadly, yes, Alpha-Bits cereal has been discontinued). Either way, L&I speak can get confusing in a hurry. Hopefully, this blog will help you master the meanings behind the legal jargon. And if you’re itchin’ for more, visit our shiny new comprehensive Glossary of Legal Terms resource page.
IME – Independent Medical Examination
This is an exam performed by a doctor, generally at the request of the Department of L&I or a Self-Insured Employer, for a variety of reasons, including rating exams, causal relations, and challenging the veracity of your doctor’s opinion.
UPDATE – House Bill 1068 has passed, which, in part, changes the name of these exams from Independent Medical Examinations to the much more appropriately titled “Compelled” Medical Examinations.
TTD – Temporary Total Disability
Also referred to as time loss, these are wage replacements you’re entitled to if you cannot work due to your industrial injury.
AWA – Ability to Work Assessment
This is where a vocational counselor should be working with you and your doctor to determine whether you can return to work given any physical restrictions you may have that are related to your industrial injury. At this point, the vocational counselor will be discussing the return to work priorities (five parts).
For more on this, as well as VR, light-duty work, and all things having to do with vocational services, please see our blogs about the vocational process, or call us.
APF – Activity Prescription Form
Your doctor fills this out to list your restrictions worth regarding things like lifting, pushing, pulling, or time spent sitting/standing, etc.
WSF – Work Status Form
Formerly called a worker verification form, you will be required by the Department of L&I to fill out one of these forms as often as every 30 days while receiving TTD to certify that you remain unable to work, and are not working while collecting TTD.
WO – Wage Order
An order created by the Department of L&I that determines your time loss rate. Generally, the hourly rate you were making, multiplied by the hours per day you worked and multiplied again by 22 days (the average working days per month). Things like employer-paid medical benefits, overtime hours, tips, bonuses, and housing allowances may be added upon verification. The time loss amount is set by taking 60% of that gross wage, then adding 5% for a spouse and 2% per child to a maximum of 75% of the worker’s gross wage.
SIE – Self-Insured Employer
Companies have the option of self-insuring workers’ compensation in Washington. They have to post a large bond with the state and are generally subject to the same rules as the state in terms of coverage under the Industrial Insurance Act. The company pays and handles claims in-house (or often through a Third Party Administrator) and does not pay the same rates to the state for insurance as “state fund” claims.
BIIA – Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals
This is the court with exclusive initial jurisdiction over workers’ compensation appeals. Matters can be pursued in the superior court, and the progressive courts of appeal, but only after first being heard at the BIIA.
AP – Attending Physician
The Department of L&I requires that one provider assume the responsibility of AP to oversee treatment and potential referrals to specialists. You will need to meet with your AP regularly, approximately every six weeks, while your claim is open, even if there is no active treatment.
FCE/PCE – Functional/Physical Capacity Evaluation
This is an evaluation performed by a physical therapist to test the limits of your physical capacities. Often lasting up to six hours or longer, the goal of these evaluations is to see what you can tolerate physically before a determination is made on your ability to work.
Going beyond the glossary of legal terms
This is just a drop in the bucket of L&I lingo, but these topics are important, and when they come up, you need to know what they mean. They can be the difference-makers in getting your life back and picking up where you left off professionally and personally.