Shortcomings of the Department of Labor and Industries

Did you know if you are injured on the job such that you cannot shop or feed yourself, whether due to paralysis or other injury, you will not get help from the Department of Labor and Industries without fighting in court?

During a recent pro-bono case it was learned that the Department refused to provide basic average daily living services which a worker could not provide themselves due to his paralysis caused by an on the job injury. The Washington Administrative Code, WAC 296-23-246, Attendant Services, provides the following: 

“Services the department considers everyday environmental needs, unrelated to the medical care of the worker are not covered. The following chore services are examples of services that are not covered: Housecleaning, laundry, shopping, meal planning and preparation, transportation of the injured worker, errands for the injured worker, recreational activities,yard work, and child care.“ (Emphasis added.)

It was truly disappointing to find out that a person who wished to live in their home would be denied some of the most basic services such as preparing a meal.  A worker who could not shop for food, who could not cook or prepare food, who needed transportation, or who needed some of the most basic needs of life was told “too bad, you are on your own”.  This regulation may be subject to court review in the future, but it shows how limited the perspective is of the Department when it comes to quadriplegics who are often dependent on someone else on almost every task of daily living.