An Introduction to Workers’ Compensation in Oregon
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance designed to reduce litigation involving workplace accidents and illnesses. Rather than having to sue an employer, workers’ compensation reduces the costs associated with workplace accidents by providing employees who are injured on the job with compensation for lost wages, medical expenses and disability payments resulting from an injury or illness. Workers’ compensation only covers injuries that arise out of the course of employment; an employee must be engaged in an activity that is part of his or her work in order to obtain compensation. However, workers’ compensation covers injuries to employees even if the employee was at fault.
State laws govern workers’ compensation and vary among the states. In Oregon, an injured worker should immediately notify his or her employer of the injury and request Form 801, “Worker’s and Employer’s Report of Occupational Injury or Disease/Illness.” The employer is required to notify the insurer within five days after the worker notifies the employer of the injury or illness. The insurer must then accept or deny the workers’ compensation request within 60 days. The insurer has the right to require an employee requesting workers’ compensation to undergo an independent medical examination, with the costs of the exam paid for by the insurer.
Workers’ Comp Appeals
Ideally for the injured worker, the insurer will grant workers’ compensation and pay for all necessary medical treatment, including prescription drugs and travel to and from treatment. If the insurer denies an employee’s claim for workers’ comp, that worker has the right to appeal. The employee must appeal within a certain amount of time, however. At this point it is best for the employee to contact an attorney experienced in handling workers’ compensation claims and appeals. An attorney can discuss the options with the worker, such as:
- A claim disposition agreement, in which the insurer agrees to pay an agreed-upon lump sum payment, in exchange for the employee giving up the right to benefits, permanent partial disability awards, monthly payments for permanent total disability and vocational assistance benefits
- A disputed claim settlement, which is a cash settlement in exchange for a denial of the workers’ compensation benefits
Finally, according to Oregon law, if an injured employee is denied benefits under workers’ compensation, he or she may be able to sue the employer, but only if the employer was at fault and the workplace incident or environment was not the major cause of the illness or injury.
This is only a brief overview of workers’ compensation. If you have been injured at work or denied workers’ compensation benefits, contact a workers’ compensation attorney immediately to discuss your options and rights.