Answering the Most Frequently Asked Questions Is a Good Start, But We Decided to Answer The Most Important Questions Too. Learn What You Need to Know About Your Injury and Disability Claim.
Answering the Most Frequently Asked Questions Is Good, Answering The Questions You Should Be Asking Is Even Better
We have been answering questions about Oregon and Washington personal injury and auto injury claims, Oregon Workers' Compensation claims, and Social Security Disability claims for more than a little while. People have a lot of the same concerns, so they ask the same questions. That's good. However, our job is not just to answer the most frequently asked questions, but also the ones you should be asking. That's better.
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What does it mean to prove that someone was "negligent?"
Every profession has its own language. Attorneys are no exception. When somebody is injured because of another person's careless behavior, then the injured person has a claim for "negligence." The term "negligence" simply means that a person was acting carelessly, are not reasonably careful under the circumstances. There are many ways to show that somebody acted negligently.
In Oregon, a person can be found negligent if they acted unreasonably under the circumstances, and that as a result, somebody suffered foreseeable harm. In other words, the careless party should have known that by doing whatever they did, are not doing what they should have, a certain kind of injury could have resulted. This rule is in place because it would be impossible to write a safety rule for every possible way a person cannot carelessly.
In other cases, a person may be found negligent because of their relationship with the injured party. For example, attorneys have a special responsibility to their clients, and doctors have a special responsibility to their patients. In Oregon, we call this a "special relationship." If a person that has a "special relationship" with another person has a higher responsibility to make sure they do their job correctly. If they do not meet that responsibility, then they can be held responsible for their negligence.
There are statutes and rules that also determine whether somebody is careless. In an auto collision injury case for example, if a person violates the basic rule (speeding) or fails to keep a proper lookout for other vehicles on the road, that person has violated a couple of statutes in the motor vehicle code, and as a result, they are negligent as a matter of law. Attorneys like to call this a claim of "negligence per se." Statutes and rules can be used to prove that somebody was negligent per se if the harm that resulted was the type the statute intended to prevent, and the person who was injured was a member of the class of people that the Legislature intended to protect bypassing the statute. So, if a motorist is injured because of another motorist speeding are not looking out for other cars on the road, the injured motorist suffered the kind a harm that the Legislature sought to prevent, and is obviously one of the people of the Legislature intended to protect.
In some cases, negligent behavior is obvious because somebody broke a rule, or even admitted that they were at fault. However, there are cases where parties do not agree on the issue of negligence, and we will have to work very hard to establish the responsibility of the defendant.
If you have been injured, and you believe that another person was careless and caused your injury, call us at 503-325-8600. We can review your case, and let you know if you have a viable claim. Even if you do not need an attorney, we can give you some ideas on how you can pursue your claim.
How much time do insurance carriers have to respond to an Oregon Workers' Compensation claim?
If you have been injured on the job, and you filed a claim, certain timelines are triggered before the insurance company to investigate and make a decision on your claim. In the case of a new claim, the Worker's Compensation carrier has sixty days from the date it received notice of your claim to make a decision.
This period of time is referred to as the "deferred status period." The insurance company will obtain your medical records, possibly speak with your doctor, and also has the right to take a statement from you regarding the facts and circumstances surrounding your injury. Do not be surprised if you're asked questions about your past medical history as well. You may also be asked to see an insurance retained Doctor for an examination. Many of these doctors are biased against the injured worker, but some are genuinely objective.
If you are physician has taken you off work, and confirmed your disability in writing, you may be entitled to a temporary total disability benefit during the deferred status period. In some cases, you may be only missing some work, and will receive temporary partial disability benefits. In many cases, the employer may find something for you to do within your physical limitations, which would disqualify you from any temporary total or temporary partial disability benefits.
The insurance company must make a decision within sixty days by issuing a written notice of acceptance, or some form of a claim denial. The rules require that these letters be put together in a certain format, and advise you of your right to appeal any adverse decision.
If you have a recent claim denial, or suspect a denial is coming in, give us a call at 503-325-8600. We can review your file, and let you know if it makes sense to contest the denial. Please note that there are time limits for appealing a denial, so even if you do not call us, appeal that denial. You can always withdraw the appeal at a later date.
What is an Employer Liability Law Claim?
The Employer Liability Law is about a hundred years old. Generally, if you are injured while working an inherently dangerous job, or with dangerous equipment, structures or substances, then you may have a claim against a responsible party for your injuries.
The Oregon Workers’ Compensation Act all but immunizes your employer from any liability, with some very narrow exceptions. However, there may be “indirect employers” responsible for your injuries. These could be property owners, business owners where the work is being performed, other contractors working on the same job.
Indirect Employers have to do whatever it takes, regardless of cost, to protect workers on the job site. Sometimes, the Oregon Occupational Health and Safety Administration will have rules in place for safe practices. If the Indirect Employer violates any of the rules in place, then responsibility is proven. We call this “negligence per se.”
The Indirect Employer and your employer also have to be involved in a common enterprise. In other words, you have to show that your employer and the Indirect Employer were working on the same project, that the work was dangerous, and that you were “adopted” by the Indirect Employer or were intermingled with the Indirect Employer’s employees. Finally, you have to show that the Indirect Employer was in charge of, or responsible for whatever caused your injury.
You have to be an employee, not an independent contractor. You will see situations where a company employs a lot of roofers, but each roofer working on the job is registered with the Construction Contractor Board, and is an “independent contractor.” Whether you are an independent contractor or an employee really boils down to how much control the main contractor has over your work.
If you have been injured on the job, and have more questions, call us at 503-325-8600. We have over twenty years of experience fighting for injured workers.
How do I report an on the job injury in Oregon?
The time limits for filing your workers' compensation claim in Oregon are strict. For and "injury" claim, you must file a written claim within 90 days of the date of your injury. There are a lot of arguments about what constitutes a "written" claim. Typically, your employer should provide you with an 801 claim form.
In some cases, my clients work for hostile employers. I recommend going to the Oregon Workers' Compensation Website, and searching for the insurance coverage information using the Employer Coverage Database. You can then contact the insurance company directly, and file your claim.
If you are filing an "occupational disease" claim, you have one year from the date you knew or should have known about the occupational disease. A common example of an occupational disease is occupational hearing loss. If you go to a physician for an audiogram, and here she tells you that your hearing loss is due to exposure to noise at work, you are on notice of an occupational disease, and the one-year clock to file your claim begins ticking.