Clarify Your Job at Injury in your Oregon Workers’ Compensation Claim

In a recent case decided by the Workers’ Compensation Board, an injured worker was awarded additional money for permanent disability because the workers’ compensation insurance company misapplied the law and failed to award the proper amount of disability benefits.  The injured worker was also entitled to a penalty (in this case, an additional 25% of her award) because of the insurance company’s claim processing errors.

The injured worker had an on-the-job wrist injury.  Her attending physician had restricted her to light duty lifting in her “at-injury” position as a cook/kitchen helper when he released her to return to work.  However, the insurance company gave the physician an inaccurate  job description, which said that the job the worker was doing at the time of her injury only required light lifting.  Based on this incorrect information, the doctor said the worker was released to her regular work, thereby reducing the worker’s disability award.  The  insurance company closed the claim giving the injured worker some permanent impairment, but no work disability benefits based on her “regular” work release.  When the Worker’s Compensation Department reconsidered the closure, the claimant offered an affidavit that explained that her lifting requirements at her “at-injury” job were heavy, rather than light.  She was then awarded work disability, as well as a penalty.

The insurer objected to the penalty and argued that it had no reason to question the job description that it gave to the attending physician until after the claimant had given her affidavit during the reconsideration proceeding.  The Workers’ Compensation Board affirmed her work disability award and the penalty because if the insurer was uncertain at the time of claim closure exactly what the attending physician had said about the claimant’s disability, it could have simply requested clarification from the physician.  The insurer’s “mistake” would have cost the worker a substantial amount of disability benefits if she had not challenged the insurer’s closure of her claim.

It is always a good idea to have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney review your case to look for errors or omissions by the insurance company.  There is never any charge for a case evaluation.  If you have any questions regarding your Oregon workers’ compensation claim, please contact the law office of Philip H. Garrow

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