Injured Workers’ Rights in Oregon: Your Rights & How to Protect Them
March 20, 2015
As a worker in Oregon, you have certain rights – both in terms of having a safe environment to work in and in terms of obtaining compensation after workplace accidents and injuries occur.
While the Oregon workers’ compensation system has been set up to offer certain protections and support for workers who are injured on the job, it’s also crucial for these workers to understand their rights so they know when:
- These rights may have been violated by insurance companies and/or others.
- To stand up and fight back to protect their rights, as well as their claims to benefits.
Taking a closer look at this issue, in this blog series, we will highlight what injured workers’ rights in Oregon are, as well as what people can do to protect these rights. If you or a loved one has suffered a workplace injury, and you need help obtaining the benefits you deserve, contact the trusted Portland work injury lawyers at the Savage Law Firm today. Our attorneys have the skills, experience and resources you can rely on to help you bring your claim to a successful resolution.
An Overview of Injured Workers’ Rights in Oregon
According to the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Division (WCD), injured workers’ rights in Oregon generally include the right to:
- File workers’ compensation claims for occupational illnesses and/or injuries sustained while working.
- Pursue medical treatment for work injuries – However, whether or not you can see your doctor and have this care covered by workers’ compensation insurance will depend on the specific provisions of an employer’s policy (as some may require workers to see physicians in managed care organizations (MCO) selected by employers; others may require people’s doctors to sign MCO contracts first).
- Go back to work – When you have been approved to do so by an attending physician, you can return to work.
- Pursue disability benefits – When work injuries are more severe, keeping people out of work for months or longer, these injured workers will have the right to pursue federal disability benefits.
- Appeal insurance companies’ denials or decisions – When insurance companies make decisions regarding injured workers claims and injured workers disagree with these decisions, they will have the legal right to appeal insurer’s decisions, presenting evidence as to why a different decision should have been made.Appeals usually have the best chances of success with the help of an experienced attorney; when successful, they can lead to injured workers obtaining the full amount of benefits that they deserve.
- Know who you’re dealing with – Specifically, know who the provider of your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance is so that you pay attention to all correspondence/calls from them.Also, be aware that insurers are usually NOT on your (i.e., injured worker’s) side(s) after work accidents occur; instead, these companies, who have been hired by your employer, are typically out to protect their client (i.e., your employer) and themselves. So, don’t rely on these insurers to be helpful or forthcoming in telling you your rights and/or approving your valid work injury claim.
- Read everything and be aware of claim deadlines – As workers’ compensation claims are processed, an insurance company will likely send you various information about the status/progress of the claim and, ultimately, the decision rendered (specifically whether to pay benefits or not).So, as you get this information, make sure you read everything. Being informed can help you know when to take action when misinformation or other factors may be leading insurers to make bad decisions regarding your claim.
- Keep copies of everything – Consider getting a folder or binder where you can keep every letter and/or printed email insurers send you. Also, to this end, try to keep a log of the phone conversations you have with agents for insurance companies. Note the time, date, length and topic of each conversation.Being diligent about keeping this correspondence/logged information can help you prove how insurers may have mishandled your claim later.
- Don’t miss medical appointments – Keeping up with your medical care can be as essential to your physical recovery as it may be to your financial recovery, as missing doctors’ appointments may impact whether you receive benefits (or, possibly, how much these benefits are). So, do yourself a favor and just keep all of these appointments; it could prevent you from experiencing unnecessary complications with your workers’ compensation claim down the line.
What the WCD doesn’t mention, but can also be extremely helpful for injured workers is retaining an experienced lawyer who can help them:
- Meet all necessary claim deadlines
- Compile and submit all of the necessary documentation
- Stand up to insurers when they may try to undervalue or wrongfully deny valid claims
- Obtain benefits so they can focus on their recovery.
Portland Work Injury Lawyers at the Savage Law Firm
Have you been hurt at work? If so, you can rely on the Portland work injury attorneys at the Savage Law Firm for experienced help and aggressive legal advocacy.
To learn more about our legal services and what we can do for you, call us at 503-222-0200 (in Portland) or at 206-957-7272 (in Seattle). You can also email us using the form on this page. We represent clients in communities in both Oregon and Washington from our offices in Portland and Seattle.