The Oregon Workers’ Compensation Act regulates all aspects of workers’ compensation, including the fee agreement. As result, every fee agreement offered by every attorney representing injured workers in the State of Oregon is the same. These fee agreements are simply a compilation of the rules on how attorneys can get paid for representing injured workers.
There are two common aspects to the Oregon Workers’ Compensation fee agreement. First, an attorney representing an injured worker in Oregon is not paid unless he or she does something to obtain benefits for the injured worker. This may be obtaining an increase in an existing benefit, like temporary total disability, or permanent partial disability, or it could mean successfully fighting a denied claim at hearing. In either case, the attorney must be “instrumental” and getting the injured worker and increased benefit, or overcoming a denied claim. If the attorney is not successful, there is no attorney fee.
The other common aspect of the fee agreement is that no matter what issue the attorney helps the injured worker with, the State of Oregon must approve the fee. For example, if the attorney goes to hearing with a client and successfully fights denied claim, then the Administrative Law Judge will decide the attorney fee. The insurance company or employer pays the fee, or appeals the Order. If the attorney obtains an increase in an injured worker’s permanent partial disability rating, then the Appellate Review Unit at the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Division will set the fee according to rule. This fee is a percentage of the increased recovery, depending the level of appeal.
Costs are addressed in the fee agreement. The term “costs” refers to those things that the attorney may need to spend money on to prepare the case. A common example of a cost on a Oregon Workers’ Compensation case involves obtaining expert opinions from attending physicians. However, an insurance company or employer may be responsible for reimbursing the Claimant’s attorney for costs incurred in fighting a denied claim.
If you have a denied Oregon Workers’ Compensation claim, and have concerns about whether you need an attorney, call us at 503-325-8600. We offer twenty years of experience going to hearings with injured workers in Oregon.