Why Do I Need a Workers Comp Lawyer?
With few exceptions, employers in Oregon are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. When it applies, workers’ compensation is the only option for recovering compensation from your employer for workplace injuries and illnesses. Employees covered by workers’ compensation are prohibited from filing a lawsuit against their employers for workplace injuries and illnesses.
Because Oregon is home to many different industries, there are a wide variety of work injury claims. Some injuries are unique to certain jobs and leave employees wondering if workers’ compensation will cover them. Even seemingly “safe” jobs – like working in an office or at a store – could result in a serious on-the-job injury.
If you suffered an injury at work in the greater Portland area, get help from a lawyer as soon as possible so that you have the best chance of getting all the workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to. Make sure you contact Jodie Anne Phillips Polich, P.C.
Jodie Anne Phillips Polich brings a high level of experience to Oregon workers’ compensation cases. She is a former member of the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Board. You can have her examine your case as soon as you call us or contact us online to schedule a free and confidential consultation.
What Are Common Reasons to Hire a Workers’ Comp Lawyer?
One reason to hire an attorney when you are filing for workers’ compensation is to increase the chance of having your application approved. Many people attempt to file claims on their own, only to be denied or receive benefits that are much less than they deserve. They then struggle to figure out what is preventing them from being approved.
A lawyer has handled many similar claims in the past and therefore knows what challenges to expect with your claim. An attorney can help you avoid many of the common mistakes that trigger automatic denials.
Even if your employer and its insurer accept your workers’ compensation claim, you should still have an attorney review your situation. It is possible that you may deserve additional benefits beyond what you are receiving. It costs nothing to have our lawyer review your case and advise you about your rights. The consultation is also completely confidential.
In some situations, an employer or workers’ compensation insurance company may try to force a claimant back to work before they’re ready. A lawyer can consult with medical and vocational experts to find out what is reasonable when it comes time to go back to work.
If your workplace injuries result in permanent disabilities, your attorney may be able to negotiate for a lump-sum payment that will allow you to receive the future benefits you deserve sooner rather than later.
In some workplace injury cases, victims may be entitled to seek money beyond what is available from the workers’ compensation system. An attorney can conduct an independent investigation into the accident to identify all possible liable parties.
When a third party – someone other than your employer and co-workers – has some degree of responsibility for your workplace injuries, they are not subject to the same protections afforded to your employer. In other words, you could have grounds to file a separate personal injury lawsuit against the negligent third party for damages in addition to your workers’ compensation award.
For example, if you were injured in a car accident while driving for work, you might be entitled to compensation from the at-fault driver in addition to workers’ compensation benefits.
Proving Your Right to Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Workers’ compensation in Oregon is generally provided regardless of fault, regardless of whether the employee, the employer, a co-worker, or another party was responsible for an accident. However, workers’ compensation may be denied when an insurance company claims the injury was the result of an employee’s exceptionally reckless behavior, such as being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Workers could find it challenging to obtain workers’ compensation benefits for certain injuries that are harder to establish. For example, repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome frequently result from work-related stress and strain. However, insurers might try to dispute that the job was the cause of the injury.
Similarly, illnesses stemming from some kind of toxic or hazardous exposure to a dangerous substance may not show symptoms until long after the initial exposure. In such cases, an employee must inform their employer of their illness as soon as they discover or reasonably should have discovered the illness and its connection to work.
Keep in mind that you are required to report an injury to your employer within 90 days of the date of an accident to be eligible for workers’ compensation in Oregon. With an occupational illness, you have one year from the date you discover the illness to report it to your employer. Failure to satisfy either of these deadlines could lead to your workers’ compensation claim being denied.
Appealing a Workers’ Comp Denial or an Undervalued Claim
When a workers’ compensation claim is denied or you dispute the amount of the award, you have the right to file an appeal with the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Division (WCD). You can request a hearing to appeal your rights to workers’ compensation.
Appeals may be filed for a denial for a request to include specific medical conditions in a claim, denial for proposed medical care, or appeals of Orders on Reconsideration. A hearing will be held in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
At an ALJ hearing, the judge will review the evidence and hear from witnesses called by both parties. After both attorneys make their closing arguments, the ALJ will issue an opinion and order, which is the decision on the case.
When an ALJ does not rule in your favor, you have 30 days to file another appeal with the Court of Appeals, which does not accept new evidence and only reviews the record of your hearing to determine if there were any errors of law. Disagreement with the Court of Appeals decision could lead to an appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court, which is the final possible level of review. The Supreme Court does not take all cases, so there is no guarantee that your case will be heard.
It is critical to have an experienced Oregon workplace injury lawyer on your side when you need to appeal a denied claim or a claim that was valued too low.
How Jodie Anne Phillips Polich Can Help
Jodie Anne Phillips Polich represents clients in Portland and across the state of Oregon who’ve been hurt or become ill on the job and need workers’ compensation benefits. When cases enter lump sum settlement discussions, our firm has helped people just like you obtain settlements that cover all past, present, and future expenses relating to the injury.
You don’t have to worry about being able to afford an attorney to help you get the workers’ comp benefits you need. We serve our clients on a contingency fee basis. This means that we won’t charge you anything unless and until we successfully help you get the benefits you need and deserve.
Call us or contact us online to take advantage of a free consultation to speak with Jodie Anne Phillips Polich today.