If you have been injured on the job, the process can be confusing and difficult to navigate.
At Harris Velázquez Gibbens, our experienced attorneys can guide you through the complex rules and regulations that often seem in favor of employers and insurers to make sure that you understand that process and that your rights are protected.
Call 503-648-4777 for a Free Case Evaluation with a Workers’ Compensation Attorney.
Workplace accidents are regrettably common in this state. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Oregon private industry employers reported 43,400 nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2020.
If you’ve been hurt on the job or diagnosed with an illness that you believe is work-related, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits can cover the costs of your medical treatment and even pay a percentage of your wages if you need to take time off to recuperate or end up with permanent injuries.
Although workers’ compensation is meant to be accessible when you need it, filing for benefits is not always straightforward and valid claims are often denied on technicalities. At Harris Velázquez Gibbens, we do the following:
- Educate injured Oregon workers on their legal rights
- Help them apply for the benefits they need to sustain themselves after a work-related accident
- Guide them through the hearings process if their claim is initially denied
If you’ve been injured and aren’t sure what to do next, contact our office for a free initial consultation.
Qualifying for Workers’ Compensation in Hillsboro, Oregon
If the company you work for has even one employee, they’re generally required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, unless their payroll is less than $500 for any 30-day period or you do certain types of work in their home, such as cleaning and maintenance. If you experience any of the following, you can file a workers’ comp claim to cover your treatment costs, lost wages, and possibly other benefits.
- An on-the-job injury or workplace accident
- Work-related illnesses caused by hazardous substances or allergens (otherwise known as occupational diseases)
- Repetitive stress injuries or repetitive strain injuries
What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?
Workers’ compensation in Oregon pays the following benefits to qualified applicants:
- A percentage of your average weekly wage (time loss benefits) while you are off work recovering from your injury.
- Medical expenses related to your work-related injury or illness. This can include compensation coverage for both emergency medical care and ongoing treatment needs.
- Ongoing care costs when needed, such as physical therapy.
- Disability payments if a workplace injury or illness leaves you temporarily or permanently disabled. These may be Temporary Total Disability (TTD) or Temporary Partial Disability (TPD), or permanent disability benefits, depending on your condition.
- Funeral expenses in the event of a fatal accident or illness. Workers’ compensation can also pay monthly benefits to surviving family members, such as a spouse, children, and other dependents.
The worker’s compensation system may also provide vocational assistance benefits to provide retraining if catastrophic injuries prevent you from returning to your previous job. A variety of vocational training programs are available, and specific eligibility requirements apply. A Hillsboro workers’ compensation lawyer at our law firm can help you claim and collect all of the benefits you are entitled to.
How to File for Workers’ Compensation in Oregon
Once you know you’ve been injured or developed an illness, tell a supervisor immediately and follow up in writing with a completed Form 801. Upon receiving your written notice, your employer should send it to its workers’ compensation insurance carrier within five days.
When you seek medical attention, let the doctor know that it is a work-related injury or illness. They should help you complete Form 827 documenting your condition and send the medical record to the insurer within 72 hours of your visit.
Insurers have 60 days from the time their employer becomes aware of the claim to accept or deny it. The decision will be communicated to you in writing.
- If your workers’ comp claim is accepted, the insurer will send you a Form 1644 (Notice of Acceptance), detailing the medical conditions covered.
- If your claim is denied, the insurer will send you a letter explaining the reasons and how you may request a hearing for the decision. If you didn’t make your original application with an attorney’s help, you should definitely talk to one if you need to appeal.
When Should You Hire a Hillsboro Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
You may be able to handle your own workers’ compensation claim if you suffered a minor injury, such as a sprained ankle, and didn’t lose much time at work. Even so, it’s always a good idea to get a free consultation from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can explain the application process and warn you about any pitfalls.
You should definitely reach out to a lawyer if any of the following conditions apply to your case:
- Your employer or their insurer denies your claim or fails to pay your workers’ comp benefits promptly.
- You receive a settlement offer on a denied claim that doesn’t cover all of your medical bills or lost wages. Traumatic brain injuries, for example, can require years of medical care.
- You receive a settlement offer on an accepted claim that seems unfair.
- Your illness or injury prevents you from doing the work you used to do or any work at all.
- Your employer retaliates against you for filing a claim. Examples of retaliation include firing, demotion, reduced hours, or wage cutback.
- You intend to apply for Social Security disability benefits. A workers’ comp attorney can draft your settlement to reduce or prevent any offset.
Why Hire Harris Velázquez Gibbens to Handle Your Workers’ Comp Claim?
Clients hire us because they want a strategic and experience-based approach for their workers’ compensation claim. We advise them on how to handle their claims from the very beginning and step in to help those who have been denied benefits. Here are just a few ways our team helps ill and injured workers:
- Filing an Initial Workers’ Comp Claim: We will guide you through the claims process, thoroughly document your injury or illness, and handle all the paperwork for you.
- Requesting a Hearing on a Denied Claim: The denial of valid claims is not uncommon. An experienced attorney at our firm can review your denial and work quickly to build a strong case for hearing.
- Benefits Reviews: We can review your workers’ comp benefits and request adjustments if they are insufficient for your needs. Talk to us today if you’re concerned about your benefits coverage and payments.
- Negotiating Lump Sum Settlements. When appropriate, we can negotiate with your employer’s insurer for a fair lump sum settlement on both accepted and denied claims
As soon as you contact us about a workplace injury or claim denial, we immediately review all available information. In most instances, this means collecting and reviewing all of the records related to your job, your wages, your injuries, and the type of recovery you can expect. If you were left temporarily or permanently disabled, we can ensure that the full cost of your disability is accurately reflected in any settlement that you receive. If a third party caused your workplace injury, we can guide you through the process of filing a personal injury claim.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
Attorney fees for workers’ comp cases in Oregon are regulated by the Workers’ Compensation Board. This is to ensure that an injured employee has reasonable access to legal counsel when they need help with their claim.
Many times, the insurance companies are required to pay the worker’s attorney fees if they win a hearing. In other cases, the lawyer may receive a percentage of the compensation recovered. In either case, the worker is never required to pay attorney fees upfront or out of pocket. A consultation with an experienced attorney is always free, and the worker is under no obligation to move forward.
What if I Was Injured on the Job by a Third Party?
Workers’ compensation was designed to avoid civil lawsuits resulting from work-related injuries. However, there are some situations where you can go outside the workers’ comp system to seek compensation, one of them being injury by a third party such as a delivery driver or vendor. In that case, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against the company that employed the at-fault party.
You may also be able to sue your employer if they:
- Don’t carry workers’ compensation insurance
- Intentionally caused your injury
Your workers’ comp lawyer will be able to explain how the law applies to your situation.
What if I Have a Preexisting Condition?
Workers’ compensation insurers often deny claims for preexisting conditions. This is because they don’t want to pay for a medical condition that isn’t related to work or has already been addressed in a previous claim.
To illustrate, let’s assume that you suffered a hip injury in a car accident several years ago. One day, you slip and fall while stacking boxes at work. In addition to hurting your lower back, the fall aggravates your old injury and leaves you unable to stand for extended periods.
In this instance, you may be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits because the slip and fall accident caused a new injury to your back. If you hadn’t fallen but only experienced a flare-up from your hip injury, your time off work would probably not be covered. An experienced lawyer can answer your questions about the impact of preexisting conditions in workers’ comp claims.
What is a Workers’ Compensation Settlement?
In some cases, worker’s compensation permanent partial disability (PPD) is paid on an accepted claim if you reach medically stationary status and you still have a measurable permanent impairment. Further payments may be made if you cannot return to your employment at the time of the injury. In Oregon, for an accepted claim, you have the option of seeking a comp settlement called claims disposition agreement instead. This settlement may be paid in a lump sum. When you accept a settlement on an accepted claim, you may relinquish your right to pursue additional workers’ compensation benefits other than medical coverage.
On a denied claim you may be able to settle your claim with what is called a disputed claim settlement. In this case the settlement fully resolves the claim and no additional benefits are provided as the insurance carrier has never accepted the claim.
Sometimes both accepted claims and denied claims are settled at the same time as potentially part of an injury was accepted and part denied even though they happened during the same event.
Workers’ comp settlements can take the following forms:
- Claims Disposition Agreement: An agreement is reached regarding the compensation due. The Workers’ Compensation Board must approve the settlement, which won’t affect your right to future compensation in regards to medical benefits
- Disputed Claim Settlement: When there is a dispute over whether you are eligible for benefits, both sides can compromise on a settlement. This type terminates future compensation for the injury.
- STIPULATED ACCEPTANCE: When there is a dispute over whether you are eligible for benefits and the insurer admits it wrongfully denied the claim before a hearing occurs. In this case your claim is accepted and your attorney is paid a fee from the insurance company before you have to go in front of an administrative law judge.
Let a Hillsboro, Oregon Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Fight for Your Rights
After being injured at work, you may be feeling overwhelmed. Not only are you in pain, but you also have complex forms to fill out and you’re likely worried about money. If your employer is hostile because you’re filing a workers’ comp claim, it can be even worse. Don’t go through this stressful time alone: reach out to Harris Velázquez Gibbens today.
For years, we have been aggressively defending the rights of hardworking Hillsboro residents who have been hurt on the job. Let us help you navigate the often-complicated workers’ compensation laws and obtain the maximum amount of money your case deserves. To schedule a confidential consultation, call 503-610-4398 or contact us online.
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Contact our lawyers today so we can begin working towards a favorable solution to your legal concerns. We also offer a free telephone interview if you’re not yet ready to hire an attorney.