Looking for Answers
If you have been seriously injured on the job in Oregon, you are facing a lot of unanswered questions. Oregon's Workers' Compensation system is complex, and injured workers and their family members often take to the web, looking for answers.
This website is a little different than other attorney sites you may have visited. We provide free, confidential resources to help you know where you stand with your on the job injury claim. Oregon Workers' Compensation provides benefits, but they are "scheduled," and often do not make up for all of the harms and losses you suffered. In some cases, there are other options.
People with serious on the job injuries visiting our site, and those who hire us want to know about:
1. Our experience;
2. How our fee agreement works;
3. How we work with our clients;
4. How we evaluate and investigate claims before we negotiate;
5. What others have to say about us;
6. Whether there is more to a case than Workers' Compensation Benefits
We will answer your questions, and find the best options for your case, even if that means sending you to another lawyer. Everything we discuss is confidential, and there is no obligation to consult with our experienced Oregon on the job injury lawyer.
If you have questions about other potential options for an on the job injury, contact us directly, or call 503-325-8600. It's free, just between us, and you are not required to sign a contract.
The Problem With Workers' Compensation in Oregon
Oregon Workers' Compensation is a no-fault insurance benefit system that provides certain limited benefits to workers who are injured on the job. There are some advantages and the workers' compensation system. For example, somebody injured on the job does not need to prove that the employer was at fault in causing their injury. In many cases, the worker could be at least partially at fault, and still have access to benefits.
If an injury claim is accepted, the injured worker has access to medical care, and if the on-the-job injury disables you from work, there are wage replacement benefits. However, claims can be denied for technical reasons, and often times, insurance carriers do not accept full responsibility for the actual injuries caused.
In many cases, the benefits provided do not fully compensate an injured worker with a life changing injury. For example, skilled construction workers or millwrights may suffer long-term disabilities that prevent them from returning to the job at injury. Although permanent partial disability benefits seek to compensate the injured worker for lost earning capacity, the benefits provided are often only a fraction of the actual lost earning capacity and future lost earnings.
Oregon Workers' Compensation claims only aim to pay for benefits related to a worker's inability to do work activity. Even if the employer is at fault, the injured worker can rarely make a claim for compensation to make up for the loss of health, including pain, suffering, and inability to enjoy activities outside of work.
Third Party Claims: A Possible Option
If you suffered an injury on the job, and someone other than a co-worker or your employer was negligent, you may have a Third Party Claim. These claims have special requirements and challenges.
This kind of claim is like other personal injury claims in Oregon. However, you only have such a claim if someone other than your employer or a co-worker caused your injury. You must prove that the other person or company was careless or broke the law in causing your injury. In addition, you must establish a connection between the careless behavior, and the harm you suffered. In many cases, your losses may be severe and lifelong. In order to recover for these losses, you must show how your injuries will affect you in the future, how much you will not be able to earn in the future, and the cost of your future medical care.
These kinds of cases are governed by the Oregon Workers' Compensation statute. That statute provides that you must notify the workers' compensation carrier of your intent to pursue the claim against the responsible party, and before resolving the case, you must obtain consent from the workers' compensation carrier. Many of the losses you claim must be reimbursed to your workers' compensation carrier. That is why it is so important to document all of your losses.
In some cases, the workers' compensation carrier may want ot hold some of your settlement if it believes that you may need to re-open your workers' compensation claim in the future.
The process involved with pursuing these claims can be long, depending upon the issues involved. If necessary, you may need to file a lawsuit against the responsible party. Many cases were resolved prior to trial, but sometimes, you may need to present your case in front of a jury.
Employer Liability Law Claims
In some cases, even where your employer or a co-worker was negligent or careless in causing you injury, there may be other options as well. Oregon's Employer Liability Law may help you recover for your losses if you were injured while working a dangerous occupation with other companies or contractors.
Certain workers involved with more hazardous work may qualify for these kinds of claims. The work must involve inherent danger, dangerous equipment, dangerous structures, or substances.
These claims also usually involve situations where the work is performed in conjunction with other contractors. A good example is a major construction project where several contractors working together on a single project. In some cases, the injured worker may be working for another contractor, which is known as an "indirect employer." This could be anybody from the owner of the property where the work is being done, or other contractors working on the job. Whether indirect employers are involved in a construction project may require careful investigation.
There are some benefits in pursuing an Employer Liability Law claim in Oregon. First, indirect employers must take great care to protect all workers on the job site. This involves more than being reasonably safe, and instead requires taking all practical measures to keep the workers safe.
The compensation available to the injured worker extends beyond the benefits with a typical workers' compensation claim. Unlike workers' compensation, the Oregon Employer Liability Law allows injured workers to claim compensation for the loss of their health, which includes loss of enjoyment of life, limited abilities, pain, suffering, and all the permanent and life changing impacts of a serious injury.
Often times, workers injured on the job are completely unaware of their option to make a claim under the Employer Liability Law. We have offices in Astoria and Hillsboro, Oregon, and have handled Employer Liability Law claims in Oregon. We can review your case, and at the very least, you will know that you explored all your options.
We understand that injured workers only want to be treated fairly, and are not looking to "win the lottery," or "rake somebody over the coals." However, insurance companies often employ tactics to limit or prevent recovery at all. We see the following all the time:
- Insurance adjusters making low ball offers days after the injury, even though you are still treating with doctors, and have no idea of the possible long-term impact to you and your family;
- Insurance adjusters that impose fake deadlines for you to accept an offer of settlement knowing that these deadlines have no legal basis;
- Insurance adjusters denying responsibility when they know that your injury resulted from the negligence of an indirect employer
There are other tactics insurance adjusters employ to escape responsibility. The truth is that insurance companies, over the years, have invested vast sums of money to sway public opinion about injury claims, and will not properly compensate injured workers unless you show a willingness to move forward, and take a stand.
Having an attorney often levels the playing field, because insurance adjusters are now forced to deal with an advocate that knows the old tricks, and knows how to prove a case. We can guide you through the process of dealing with an insurance carrier that is on the other side of the legal fence from you.
If you want to learn more about how this works before you call, please check out our Oregon Personal Injury Guide. We also cover Third Party Claims in our free Navigating the Oregon Workers' Compensation Maze.
These consumer guides are free, private, and there are no obligations.
Our free consumer guides are set up to answer the most frequently questions our clients have asked over the years. But we also do something else. We answer the questions you should be asking so you can avoid the deadly mistakes that can kill your claim, like:
1. How much time do I have to resolve my case?
2. How much information do I need to provide to the insurance company?
3. How do I to determine whether or not I have a claim under the Employer Liability Law?
4. How does the attorney fee agreement work, and what am I really paying my lawyer at the end of the case?
5. How do my medical bills get paid?
6. Does my health insurance pay my medical expenses?
7. How, I feel like I am "under investigation?"
What You Must Know About Employer Liability Law Claims
You must show that you were involved in a common enterprise with other contractors. You must also show that your work involved danger in some form, and that an indirect employer was somehow at fault in causing your injury.
It does not stop with showing that you were injured. You must show the connection between the indirect employer's fault, and your actual injury. You have to show how severe your injury is, how much it cost to fix what could be fixed with medical treatment, and how much is fair to make up for what you lost, or what cannot be fixed.
Many times, these claims require experts to get involved to help prove your claim. For example, logging industry experts may get involved to show how an indirect employer failed to make a logging site safe for its workers. Heavy construction or industrial experts or investigators might help prove how an injury was preventable at a construction site, paper mill, or factory.
Medical experts will explain the connection between an indirect employer's negligence and your injuries, provide opinions about the nature and extent of your injuries, and whether future care or medical treatment is necessary. We also work closely with economists and vocational experts to document future lost earning capacity and future lost earnings.
We Know Every Case Is Different
Insurance companies often have a common process to evaluate each claim. Many times, the insurance companies require a taped statement, which by the way, is not actually required. Insurance companies will review medical records, and compare your claim information to other similar claims to determine how much the offer on the settlement. We may decide to present settlement packets to carriers prior to filing litigation, but not always. Instead, we take a case-by-case approach to determine what works best for the individual client. We evaluate cases well before presenting demands, or filing in court. Sometimes, filing in court immediately saves time.
Our firm also limits the kind of cases we handle. We have over two decades of experience representing injured and disabled Oregonians and Washingtonians. We would rather be good at a few things, and not average at many. If we encounter a case outside of our area of expertise, we will not hesitate to find a more experienced lawyer to either help us with the case without any additional cost to you, or take over the case completely.
Here some other similar cases we handle: