Filing for Workers Compensation in Portland
All states have some form of injured worker protection law, designed to compensate workers when they get hurt on the job. It’s a fairly simple concept. Many jobs carry greater risks than most people would normally have in regular life, so there is a higher risk of injury. If a worker gets hurt on the job, he or she should not have to prove the employer was somehow negligent. This is why the law provides for workers’ compensation.
Workers’ compensation was designed to be a non-adversarial process by which employers and employees could have a sense of certainty and resolve claims relating to work-related injuries in a quick, efficient, and private manner. Over the years, the process has become a bit more complicated, and insurance carriers often look for ways to deny perfectly valid claims. That’s why you need help from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who will stand up for your rights.
Steps to Follow If You Are Injured On the Job in Portland
If you get hurt at work, there are a few basic steps that you must follow in order to protect your rights so that you can be properly compensated.
Step 1: Report the injury right away
You must report your injury to your employer. Not only is this a legal requirement, but it also makes good sense. If you don’t report the injury, then it’s hard to prove it happened. Your employer will be required to fill out Form 801. Try to get the names of anyone who witnessed the accident as well. If you are able or have others present who are willing to help, try to get photographs of the scene, your injuries, and anything else you think could be useful.
Step 2: Get emergency medical attention
Getting emergency medical treatment is imperative. Nothing is more important than your safety. Not to mention that getting immediate care validates your injury, demonstrates that the injury was incurred on the job, and establishes a record of the injury for future healthcare providers to review when providing treatment.
Step 3: Call an experienced Portland workers’ compensation attorney
An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer will gather and review your medical records and work closely with you and your physician to understand the nature of your injury and how it might affect your future employment and job functioning. If the insurance company tries to minimize the severity of your injury in an attempt to under-compensate you, an attorney can fight for the appropriate compensation. This is especially helpful if you must appeal a denial. There are strict deadlines and rules that apply to appeal a decision of the Workers’ Compensation Board.
Step 4: Get follow-up medical care
Emergency care is good, but if you have a serious injury, chances are you will need ongoing care. This may include imaging services (X-rays, MRI, CT scans, etc.), surgery, physical therapy, or specialists.
Under Oregon law, you have a right to choose a medical provider for yourself. However, be aware that many employers will try to pressure or coerce you to use a physician or medical group of their choosing. This can be a matter of convenience, but it can also be because that provider is known for making injuries seem less serious in order to work against workers’ interests. Talk to your lawyer if you have any concerns.
What Workers’ Compensation Benefits Are Available in Portland, Oregon?
There are five basic types of benefits available to injured Oregon workers:
This pays for your time missed from work. If you are the sole breadwinner for your family, a temporary disability can make the difference between survival and financial ruin. Sadly, unscrupulous insurance carriers sometimes use delay tactics to force injured workers to accept less than they should for their case, simply by refusing to pay temporary benefits at a time when it is needed just to get by.
This compensates for permanent injuries or impairments that will forever limit your earning potential. Amputations, blindness, and similar injuries are examples of permanent disabilities.
Medical bills must be reasonable and necessary. This can be a source of a lot of arguments between you and the insurance company, and it helps to have an attorney who can navigate these discussions. In some cases, you may need to work with a medical expert to refute the insurance company’s theory that your treatment was unnecessary.
Vocational rehabilitation / assistance
If you can no longer do the job you had, you may qualify for training to learn a new trade or career. You may need to consult with employment experts or vocational specialists who can provide formal opinions about your need for retraining.
This is compensation paid to the surviving spouses and children of a fatally injured worker.
Portland Employers Must Carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance
It’s important to understand that just about all employers in Oregon are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. There are just a few exceptions. For instance, sole proprietors, two-person partnerships with no other employees, and those who hire just occasional or “casual” workers may not need to carry insurance.
Insurance offers protection to both the employer and the employee. If you are injured at work and your employer carries the required workers’ compensation insurance, then you are not allowed to file a traditional civil lawsuit for your injuries. This means you are not able to take the case in front of a jury the way that you could other types of injury claims. Instead, you must file a claim with the employer’s insurance company. If there is a dispute, it must first be taken before the Workers’ Compensation Board.
Do I Always Have to Hire a Workers Compensation Attorney in Portland?
Not necessarily. Some cases involving very minor injuries may be resolved by working directly with the employer’s insurance company. However, in most situations involving a serious injury or accident that leaves you out of work for an extended time, you should strongly consider getting help from an attorney who regularly handles workers’ compensation claims. Even for a smaller case, if the claim is denied, you should consider working with an attorney in order to appeal it.
If you have suffered a serious workplace injury and need answers, call the Law Office of Jodie Anne Phillips Polich, P.C. As a former member of the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Board and an experienced advocate for injured workers, Jodie Anne Phillips Polich helps injured workers throughout the state to pursue the compensation they deserve. Call today for a consultation!