The Oregon Workers' Compensation Board decided that an injured worker cannot release any benefits related to the preferred worker program.
Generally, Oregon Workers' Compensation law provides for settlements. If an injured worker settles an accepted claim, the injured worker's giving up all non-medical related rights on a claim. Other benefits that can be negotiated include permanent partial disability, vocational rehabilitation, and temporary total disability (wage replacement benefits).
The preferred worker benefit ProgramIs designed to provide an incentive to employersto hire injured workers who have suffered permanent partial disabilities. The motive behind the program is to alleviate an employer's concern about exposure to additional on the job injury claims. The program allows for exemption from insurance premiums, claim cost reimbursement, and wage subsidies.
To help injured workers, this program pickes up reimbursement for tuition so that the worker can learn a new skill, temporary lodging expenses, tools and equipment, and moving expenses. An injured worker can even get help with placement assistance, and work site modification.
In this case, the Boad agreed that these benefits are non classic medical treatment benefits, but relied upon the statute to find that such benefits cannot be given up in a claims disposition agreement.
To read about claims disposition agreements, check out this article.
To learn more about the preferred worker program, go to www.oregonpwp.info.