Are Seasonal Employees Eligible for Workers’ Comp?

Workers' Compensation form with pen and glasses. seasonal employees and workers comp concept

Employers in various industries often hire workers to help meet demand during a peak season. A seasonal work relationship can often benefit both an employer who is looking to reduce costs and an employee who may want to pick up extra work during the summer, between semesters, or at specific times of the year. However, seasonal workers can face a risk of injury on the job, just like other employees. If you’ve decided to take on seasonal work, you might be wondering, “are seasonal workers eligible for Workers’ Comp in Washington?”

Are Seasonal Workers Eligible for Workers’ Comp in Washington?

Like full-time and part-time employees, seasonal workers are eligible for Workers’ Comp benefits in Washington for work-related injuries. In fact, due to the nature of the work, seasonal employees often face a higher risk of injury, compared with permanent workers. Not only do they tend to have less training than year-round workers, but they might also work multiple jobs at once, which can contribute to physical and mental fatigue. Additionally, many types of seasonal work in Washington is found in inherently dangerous industries with unique hazards, such as construction, agriculture, and fishing — all of which rely on seasonal workers during the times of the year where demand increases.

What Workers’ Compensation Benefits are Seasonal Workers Entitled?

Seasonal workers in Washington may be eligible for a broad scope of Workers’ Compensation benefits if they are hurt on the job. The type of benefits that are available will depend upon the type of injury sustained — and how severe it is. While Workers’ Compensation benefits are typically administered through the Washington Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), certain employers may self-insure.

Workers’ Compensation benefits for seasonal workers can include the following:

  • Medical benefits — Workers’ Comp will pay for reasonable and necessary medical treatment in connection with your workplace injury, without you incurring responsibility for co-pays or deductibles.
  • Time loss benefits — Time loss benefits provide partial reimbursement for the lost wages you incurred due to time missed from work. These benefits are compensated at 60-75% of the wage you were earning when the injury happened. The percentage is based on the number of dependents you have and your marital status.
  • Permanent partial disability benefits — These benefits compensate an injured worker for the permanent loss of a bodily function. The payments you receive will be based on the body part impacted and the level of impairment.
  • Permanent total disability benefits — You may be entitled to lifetime pension benefits if you are unable to work again due to the severity of your work-related injury.
  • Loss of earning power — If you are brought back into the workplace but can only work part-time or at a lower rate of pay because of your injury, you may be entitled to monetary benefits for your loss of earning power.

A seasonal worker who is hurt on the job should report the injury to their employer and L&I immediately. While you are required to provide written notice within one year of sustaining an injury, it’s best to file the necessary paperwork right away so you can begin receiving your benefits as soon as possible. Failure to meet the deadline can result in the loss of your right to pursue Workers’ Compensation benefits.

Are Seasonal Workers Eligible for Workers’ Comp in Washington When the Season Ends?

Seasonal workers who are not employed in the offseason will typically lose their time loss benefits once the season is over. But if a worker has other employment in the offseason and is unable to work because of their seasonal injury, they may be eligible to receive time loss benefits based on the amount of income they could have potentially earned. All other applicable L&I benefits will continue when the season ends.

Can a Seasonal Employee File a Personal Injury Lawsuit for a Workplace Injury?

A Workers’ Compensation lawsuit can be filed if you were injured on-the-job as a seasonal worker, regardless of anyone being at fault. However, if someone else was to blame for the accident, they may be held accountable in a personal injury action. This is separate from pursuing a Workers’ Compensation claim — an injured employee can sometimes pursue both avenues of recovery.

Although you cannot bring a lawsuit against your seasonal employer, you may be able to hold a third party responsible for the harm they caused you to suffer. For example, if faulty equipment caused your accident, the manufacturer may be liable for your injuries. If you were in a car accident while you were on the clock, you may be able to take legal action against the negligent driver. Every workplace accident is fact-specific and requires a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Contact an Experienced Washington Workers’ Compensation Attorney

If you are a seasonal worker who was hurt during the course of your employment, it’s important to know your rights — you may be entitled to pursue Workers’ Compensation benefits to recover some of your monetary losses. The Bellingham Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Robinson & Kole provide knowledgeable counsel to injured workers throughout Washington State and work diligently to obtain a positive outcome in every case. We welcome you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 800.640.5616 or by using our online contact form. Se habla Español.