What are the "objective" findings required to prove an Oregon Workers' Compensation claim.

In order to prove an on the job injury is "compensable" under the Oregon Workers' Compensation statute, you must prove more than the mere fact you were hurt at work.  You have to show that the injury "arose" from your work.  You also have to show that the injury occurred in the "course and scope" of your employment.  You have to show that the injury required some type of medical care, or, that it disabled you from work.  How this is proven includes providing medical evidence that is "supported by objective findings."  This article focuses on "objective findings."

To understand "objective findings," we need to look at how doctors and health care providers evaluate and treat injured workers.  First, most providers are going to ask you what happened, and where it hurts.  This is the "subjective" part of the examination.  In other words, it is what you are feeling, or have experienced; or, your subjective view of things. 

Then, the examiner will examine, and a lot of what he or she finds is referred to as "objective" findings.  This means that the findings are observable without your input.  A muscle spasm is a great example of an objective finding.  A doctor is going to feel the involuntary muscle contraction.  I fracture on an x ray is even more objective.  It is a picture of a bone, that is damaged.  You do not even have to be in the room for a doctor to observe that objective findings.

Oregon Workers's compensation law requires medical evidence be supported by objective findings, and the statute has its own definition, which can include all kinds of objective findings, including range of motion, atrophy, muscle strength and palpable muscle spasm.

But there is another component.   The statute goes on to state objective findings do not include physical findings or subjective responses to physical examinations that are not reproducible, measurable or observable.  So, the legal definition of what is objective is arguably more broad than what a doctor may think, because it includes a patient's response to physical examinations, so long as they can be reproduced, or can be measured, or can be observed. 

We make sure physicians understand this when seeking an opinion on a Workers' Compensation claim.  If you have questions about whether there is objective evidence to support your claim, give us a call at 503-325-8600.  We have a lot of experience with this issue, and can answer your questions.

Joe Di Bartolomeo
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Joe Di Bartolomeo is a top rated personal injury lawyer helping Oregon and Washington families