An Oregon employee injured at work has important rights to workers’ compensation benefits including medical costs, lost wages, and permanent disability, if any. But the worker must comply with certain requirements under Oregon law to receive them.
If you’re hurt on the job, go to your regular health care provider, an urgent-care clinic, or a hospital emergency room, depending on the extent of your injury. Tell the health care provider that you were injured on the job. The insurer will pay for related medical care if the claim is accepted. If it is denied—and the denial is upheld—then you or your private health insurance carrier will be responsible for medical expenses. Oregon health care providers, however, may not seek payment for medical treatment related to a work injury claim while it is being evaluated.
Starting a claim is meant to be a simple process. An injured worker must generally give written notice to his or her employer within 90 days of a work accident. You can notify your employer yourself or ask your doctor to help you do it. If you go to a doctor after being injured, tell your doctor you were hurt on the job. You and your doctor should then complete Oregon Form 827 (Worker’s and Physician’s Report for Worker’s Compensation Claims).
A similar process applies when the injury develops over time and is considered an occupational disease, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. An occupational disease claim must be filed within one year from the date that the worker discovers or reasonably should have discovered the condition.
Regardless of whether the claim is for a work injury or an occupational disease, the employer has 60 days after notice or knowledge of a claim to issue a written acceptance or denial. A workers comp attorney is seldom needed if the claim is accepted. If it seems likely that the claim will be denied, however, then it is a good idea to retain a lawyer before the denial. The worker must cooperate with the reasonable investigation of the claim by the employer or its workers comp insurer or risk having any disability payments cut off and the claim denied. He or she must give personal or telephonic interviews if requested and also submit to other information-gathering techniques. The worker’s lawyer may be present for such interviews.
An attorney may also be needed if the employer refuses to cooperate when the injured worker tries to report the claim. Employers must not make discourage workers from seeking any benefit that the law provides for on-the-job injuries. A business cannot make employees sign statements agreeing not to file claims. It must not require workers to say that injury occurred somewhere other than at work. It cannot pressure workers to not file an injury claim form by agreeing to pay the medical bills. And employers may not require employees to call themselves independent contractors, partners, or corporate officers to avoid workers’ compensation requirements.
Once a work injury or occupational disease claim is denied, the worker should immediately seek legal representation. A worker must normally file a request for a hearing on a claim denial within 60 days after the date that the denial was mailed to the worker.