Oregon Workers' Comp Board Decides Credibility Claim

Joe Di Bartolomeo
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Posted on Feb 01, 2015

In this case, the injured worker, a construction worker, was injured in a fall.  However, the worker did not immediately report the fall to his employer, and did not mention of back pain in an examination days after the incident. SAIF argued on appeal that these facts called into question whether not the injured worker actually suffered any injury event at work.

The Board explained that there is a long-standing rule that it is up to the Administrative Law Judge, who actually sees the injured worker testify, to determine whether not the injured worker is being forthright and honest about what happened on the job. This is because the ALJ is actually watching the injured worker testify, and can determine whether the witness is credible based on he witness's demeanor.

However, even if an injured worker's able to prove that there was an event that occurred at work, he still must prove there was an actual medical injury that occurred as a result of the event at work. This is often referred to as "medical causation." The Board considered to medical opinions. One physician believed that there was no trauma that required any medical care. However, another physician explained that the injured worker reported falling onto his back, and requiring medical treatment. The Workers' Compensation  Board cited with the physician who supported the injury. In doing so, it explained that inconsistencies with medical records do not automatically diminish the value of a witness's testimony, if that testimony is more persuasive.

This case shows that a medical opinion is only as good as the information it is based upon, and that in the end, a claim may often be based solely upon a worker's honest reporting of an injury resulting from an incident at work.

If you have an injury claim that has been denied, and wonder whether you should appeal the denial, contact us at 503-325-8600. We help injured workers every day with their Oregon Workers' Compensation claim. Under Oregon law, we are no fee unless we are successful in obtaining you benefits.