2015 Legislative Update: Changes in Oregon Workers’ Compensation

Evenson, Andrew_167x222A couple of weeks ago, I presented a legislative update related to Oregon employment law and what effects new legislation has on your employment policy both now and in the new year. The 2015 legislative session also included the passage of numerous bills affecting Oregon workers’ compensation law. Among others, Senate Bill 371, House Bill 2797, House Bill 3114, and House Bill 2764 made a splash within the Oregon workers’ compensation community.

Senate Bill 371, which became effective May 21, 2015, amended ORS 656.268. It requires that, if a worker is deceased at the time of claim closure, the Notice of Closure be mailed to the estate of the worker at the worker’s last known address and allows a copy of the Notice of Closure to be mailed to any known or potential beneficiaries to the estate of the deceased worker. It amends the statute to specifically allow beneficiaries of the worker to request reconsideration. Essentially, it allows the estate of the deceased worker to step into the shoes of the deceased worker through the reconsideration process. For example, if a worker files for reconsideration and dies prior to disposition, the estate may pursue the matter to final disposition; if the worker dies before filing for reconsideration, then the estate or beneficiaries may file the request for reconsideration; and any beneficiary not mailed a copy of the Notice of Closure may request reconsideration within one year of the date of the Notice of Closure.

House Bill 2797 amends ORS 656.262, adding “notice or knowledge of disability” to the knowledge or notice of the claim before requiring payment of temporary disability benefits. Effective January 1, 2016, the statute will require notice or knowledge of the worker’s claim and notice or knowledge of the worker’s disability. The statutory payment timeline is still triggered by employer’s date of knowledge of disability.

Effective January 1, 2016, House Bill 3114 amends 656.265, requiring notice of a workers’ compensation claim be given by the worker or a beneficiary of the worker within 90 days of rejection by a group health carrier. So, if the injured worker first presents the injury claim to a group health carrier (non-workers’ compensation) and the health plan rejects the request, the worker then has 90 days from the date of rejection to file the claim under workers’ compensation.

Making one of the biggest waves in the Oregon workers’ compensation community is House Bill 2764. The “Attorney fee” bill goes into effect on January 1, 2016. To read Kevin Anderson’s blog post about HB 2764 and its wide range of effects, click HERE.

If you have additional questions regarding these new laws or other Oregon workers’ compensation matters, please contact me at Aevenson@sbhlegal.com.