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Is It Worth Getting a Worker’s Compensation Attorney in Oregon?

workers’ compensation attorney in oregon

If your worker’s compensation claim is in question, the answer is to always hire a lawyer. A worker’s compensation attorney in Oregon can help protect your health, income, and future. Minor injuries likely don’t need a lawyer’s intervention, especially if the incident was straightforward and you can return to work after a short period.

Complicated Matters

However, some accidents require a more in-depth analysis of the incident, a longer leave of absence, or extensive medical treatment. When the situation is complicated and a larger amount of money is involved, it’s a good idea to access legal services.

The primary reasons you would consider hiring a worker’s compensation attorney include:

Insurance Denies Your Claim
A Permanent Disability Rating Dispute
Pre-Existing Conditions
Trouble Getting Treatment
Worker’s Compensation Hearing Representative

The Coverage You Need

Worker’s compensation benefits are there to protect you. They can cover your income and medical bills, both of which can add up quickly. As soon as you experience an injury at work, start the process of securing your coverage for any related expenses. If you are filing a first-time worker’s compensation claim, are not familiar with the process, or have a lot of documentation, hiring a lawyer is a wise decision.

Coverage of Medical Care Under Worker’s Compensation in Oregon

medical care under workers’ compensation in oregon

Your on-the-job injury or illness is a stressful event in your life, but you can find financial support with worker’s compensation. As soon as you experience a workplace injury, it’s essential to file a report and start the claim process.

Expenses Related to Medical Care

Medical care under worker’s compensation means Oregon employees with appropriate coverage do not have to worry about health care bills related to the injury. These bills can include prescription medications, hospital stays, transportation, meals, lodging, and other expenses up to an established maximum rate.

Your Doctor’s Approval

It’s not just a case of submitting the bills for your medical expenses. Your doctor or practitioner must sign off that the injury was related to your work, and you must file the claims appropriately. The payments will continue until the injury is healed or you are deemed medically unable to return to your job due to a permanent disability. If that occurs, you would be entitled to the permanent disability benefit.

Legal Guidance

Worker’s compensation is complex, so although you may represent yourself, hiring an attorney experienced in the field is a good idea. From establishing employer liability to disputing denied claims, your worker’s compensation attorney is your best advocate during this challenging time in your life.

Termination After Suffering Work-Related Injuries

work-related injuries in oregon
A work-related injury can change your life. Whether it’s a permanent or temporary disability, you need to know whether you will be able to work again and if your employer will hold your job. While worker’s compensation can help with benefits like wage loss and vocational rehabilitation, chances are you would like to return to work.

Review the ADA Criteria

Although you may be worried about job loss, there are protections in place to mitigate the risk for work-related injuries in Oregon. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that employers make reasonable accommodations before firing an employee who cannot work due to an injury. Whether you experienced hearing loss or a knee injury, your employer has a responsibility to uphold. Modified schedules, special equipment, and restructuring the job description are all examples of accommodations.

Speak to an Attorney

If you suspect that your employer is not meeting the ADA criteria for your return to work, reach out to a workers’ compensation attorney. They will be able to determine if the employer is violating your rights and review your options. If you have been terminated as a direct result of your injuries, you may be eligible for damages from your former employer.

You have suffered enough with a work-related injury; you should not have to worry about losing your livelihood too.

What is Not Covered by Workers’ Compensation Insurance

workers compensation in portland, orWorkers’ compensation in Portland, OR, covers most work-related injuries. However, there are some exceptions. It is a good idea to be aware of on-the-job actions that can void your workers’ compensation benefits.

They can include:

Illegal Activities

Workers’ compensation insurance policies do not cover illegal activities on the job.

Policy Violations

Company policy, procedure, and protocol violations mean an employee cannot benefit from workers’ compensation.

Intoxication or Illegal Substance Use

When Illegal substance use or intoxication is the sole cause of the injury, it is generally not covered.

Horseplay

Any acts considered horseplay and not within the scope of the job would not be covered. However, if an employee not involved in the horseplay is injured, that person may be eligible for medical and wage loss benefits.

Driving to/from Work

Although it would be nice, your commute is not covered by workers’ compensation because it is not during the course of your work.

Intentional Acts

An intentional act that causes a workplace injury or illness is not covered.

Terminated Employees

If you have been laid off or terminated, coverage will not apply unless the injury predates the job loss.

No matter what the circumstances, it is always best to speak to a lawyer to ensure you get the coverage you deserve.

Types of Covered Medical Care Under Workers Compensation in Oregon

medical care under workers compensation in OregonThe first hurdle you will face with worker’s compensation claims is the work-related requirement. You must prove that the injury or illness was connected to your job. Benefits for medical care under worker’s compensation in Oregon only apply with proof of on-the-job injury.

Covered injuries can include:

Occupational Illness

Illnesses and diseases employees develop on the job are generally covered. Black lung from coal mining, asbestos exposure, and COVID-19 are all potential claims.

COVID-19

If you contracted COVID-19 or were exposed at work, you might be eligible for benefits. You would have to prove that your job presented a special risk beyond that of the general public.

Repetitive Motion & Overuse Injuries

Repeatedly performing the same physical tasks can result in strains and injuries. Worker’s compensation benefits typically cover them, but you will need to provide evidence.

Pre-Existing Conditions

Pre-existing conditions don’t automatically mean your injury is not covered. If your work aggravates the condition, you may be eligible for worker’s compensation.

Hearing Loss

Several jobs can damage hearing and benefits often cover deafness attributed to work.

Stress-Related Injuries

Long-term stress and its connection to physical illness are becoming more recognized. However, it is still challenging to prove the correlation to receive worker’s compensation benefits.

Stress Resulting from Work-Related Physical Injuries

The toll a physical injury takes can affect an individual’s mental and emotional state. Benefits may include “compensable consequence,” meaning the injured employee is eligible for treatment and other benefits.

Oregon Employer Liability For Work-Related Injuries

employer liability in oregonWhen it comes to worker’s compensation, employer negligence is often a primary consideration. Should an employer take no action or apply the incorrect action to ensure employee safety, they could be held liable if an accident occurs.

Employer liability in Oregon must first be proven based on four elements:

That the employer owed them a duty of care
That there was a breach of duty
That the claimant suffered an injury because of the breach
The injury to the plaintiff was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the breach

Liability isn’t always clear, but some examples might include:

Negligent Hiring

Employee screenings should rule out individuals not qualified for the position. If someone doesn’t possess the appropriate credentials, they could threaten the safety of others.

Negligent Retention

An employer may be responsible if an individual’s training is inadequate or absent and their actions result in injury.

Negligent Supervision

Employers who turn a blind eye to dangerous or inappropriate actions by an employee could be liable for supervisory negligence.

Should the claim be found in favor of the employee, their expenses and medical care under worker’s compensation may be covered. Since costs can quickly add up, these are important considerations. Speaking to a worker’s compensation attorney will clarify your position and help protect your employee rights.

What Happens When Your Work Injury Goes Unreported

man in group therapyIf you delayed filing your claim past the 90-day allowance in Oregon, there is still hope. You can file a late claim by asking for a one-year extension, but you will have to supply a valid reason for the delay. The responsibility now falls on you to provide a reasonable explanation as to why you were unable to file the claim.

In cases like this, it’s best to choose a knowledgeable lawyer to assist with your claim because of the challenge in establishing “good cause” for delayed filing of workers’ compensation in Portland, OR. While Oregon has a “reasonable worker” standard that considers the true nature of the work accident, pursuing your case is best left to a legal representative experienced in navigating the system.

The “Reasonable Worker” Standard

Oregon’s “reasonable worker” standard takes into consideration:

 

  • The nature of the work accident
  • The worker’s understanding of the accident’s relationship with associated symptoms
  • Medical evidence
  • Alternative symptom explanations
  • Self-treatment
  • How the symptoms restricted the employee’s work and life activities
  • Education and occupational background of the worker
  • The reliance on legal or medical advice

These factors are weighed and will determine the establishment of “good cause.”

A delay in filing a claim is not insurmountable but does present a challenge. Your workers’ compensation lawyer is an excellent resource for determining the likelihood that your case will be heard.

 

When PTSD is Covered by Workers’ Compensation in Oregon

man in group therapyPTSD occurrence is higher in some occupations than in others, although it can happen on almost any job site. Firefighters, law enforcement officers, paramedics, and hospital workers often face situations that are especially traumatic or stressful. These individuals are particularly susceptible to developing symptoms of PTSD.

Some workers’ compensation benefits in Oregon will cover the effects of PTSD depending on the circumstances. To be considered for coverage, a worker must be evaluated and diagnosed by a psychologist or psychiatrist. Workers’ compensation may cover PTSD as a purely mental injury, such as witnessing a shocking workplace event or a physical injury at work that results in PTSD.

Symptoms of Workplace PTSD

  • Flashbacks
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anger & Irritability
  • Easily Startled or Jumpy
  • Emotional Detachment
  • Violent or Self-Destructive Behavior
  • Memory or Concentration Problems
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior
  • Nightmares

What May Be Covered

Worker’s compensation benefits vary according to the individual circumstances, but most often, they include:

Cost of treatment covering mental health therapy and medications

Temporary disability benefits covering time off work from to process and recover from the event

Permanent disability benefits covering an individual who cannot return to work due to the severity of the traumatic event

It is essential to speak to a workers’ compensation lawyer if you believe PTSD affects your ability to do your job effectively.

What to Expect at a Workers’ Compensation Hearing

court hearingFor many people, the most intimidating part of filing a worker’s comp claim is the hearing. It’s a crucial time that can have major impacts on your future – which is why being prepared is essential. Step one is finding a worker’s compensation attorney you in Oregon you can trust. After that, though, it’s worth getting a general idea of what to expect from your day in court. Here are a few things to consider:

The Worker – Depending on your situation and your attorney’s strategy, you may need to testify during your hearing. This is your big moment, and there are two keys to success. First, present a clear and rehearsed telling of your experience. Second, communicate the impact of the injury and the difference it’s made in your life.

The Evidence – Your worker’s compensation attorney has the job of gathering and presenting compelling evidence in support of your claim. This could be verification of your injuries, the accuracy of your testimony, or other relevant details that could impact the court’s decision.

The Resolution – After the presentations and examinations, the court will issue an opinion and order to resolve the claim. If you get the compensation you need, great! If not, that isn’t the end. Your attorney may be able to help you file an appeal.

 

Was Your Workers’ Comp Claim Denied? This Might Be Why.

business womanWorker’s comp exists to protect everyday employees. No matter the work you do or the situation behind your injury, you should feel confident getting the money you need to recover well. Unfortunately, not every claim is easy to navigate. If you’re struggling with worker’s compensation in Portland, OR, take a look at these that might impact your claim:

Employment Issues – One of the most common reasons for denials is a failure to prove that a particular injury happened while “at work.” What qualifies for your case might be different depending on your field and how you generally spend your time on the clock. For many claimants, however, the real struggle is documenting the time and place of the injury so that it’s possible to present evidence during the hearing. Be sure to gather any documentation that shows you were working at the time of your injury.

Disqualifying Conduct – Some factors about the claimant can lead to a denial. Working while impaired, failing to seek medical treatment, or seeking the wrong type of treatment can all leave you with less recourse. Fortunately, a skilled lawyer can often contest accusations of misconduct.

Technical Problems – Paperwork can be confusing, and it’s all too easy to let a form or formality get in the way of your worker’s compensation claim. Make sure you work with a trusted professional who knows the ins and outs of the system.