Oregon Workers' Compensation regulates just about every aspect of making a claim for an on-the-job injury. For example, there are rules that tell insurance companies how much it must pay you for any mileage for traveling to and from medical appointments, as well as the amount of money to reimburse you for any meals or lodging while going to and from doctors. The statute also regulates how much physicians and other medical providers can charge for their services. Attorney fees are no different.
If you hire an attorney to represent you on an Oregon Workers' Compensation the attorney is paid only if he or she is "instrumental" and getting you a benefit that was denied, or underpaid. If the benefit you are fighting over involves payment of money, which would include temporary total disability (wage replacement) or permanent partial disability (compensation for lost earning capacity), then the attorney is paid only if he or she obtains additional amounts for these benefits. If the attorney prevails, then the fee is a percentage of the increased benefit amount. Before the fee is paid, the State of Oregon must approve the fee. This may be from the Workers' Compensation Division, or the Workers' Compensation Board.
If there is a dispute over whether you're entitled to a benefit in the first place, then the employer or its insurance company will pay the attorney fee, but only if the attorney prevails. For example, if you have a denied claim, and your attorney appeals that denial, and prevails at the hearing, then the Administrative Law Judge will order the employer or its insurance company to pay the attorney fee. In addition to that, the judge may require the insurance company or its employer to pay the cost of going forward with the hearing. This could be significant. These are commonly referred to as "assessed fees."
Another example of this kind of fee involves Vocational Rehabilitation. If your request for vocational rehabilitation is denied, and your attorney helps you get that denial overturned, then the Workers' Compensation Division will order the employer or its insurance company to pay your attorney a fee, aced upon how much time your attorney has invested in getting the denial overturned.
There are other examples of attorney fees in the Oregon Workers' Compensation system. All this is designed to give injured worker's access to an attorney, which is a good thing because the system is complex. If you have an issue with a denied or even an accepted workers' compensation claim, and have questions, calls at 503-325-8600. We can review your file, and help you decide whether a makes sense to pursue an appeal, or make an additional claim.