Kevin Anderson

Oregon Legislature Increases Claimant’s Attorney Fees

Anderson, Kevin_webThe Oregon Legislature adjourned at the end of June and it is clear some major changes are coming for businesses, small and large, in the state. One of those changes is House Bill 2764, which significantly expands the attorney fees awarded to claimant’s attorneys in workers’ compensation claims. While there are many changes, here are some of the most significant: Hourly Rate for Claimant’s Interviews & Depositions Injured workers continue to have a duty to cooperate and assist with an investigation. However, now if the worker is represented, the claimant’s attorney is entitled to an hourly rate for actual time spent during a personal or telephonic interview, or a deposition. The Oregon Bar and Board will adopt… Continue reading

SBH Attorneys Present at WCCA Spring Conference

Kevin AndersonBy Kevin Anderson I had the pleasure of presenting with my colleague Rebecca Watkins and Sheri Sundstrom from Hoffman Construction at the WCCA conference regarding the new claim closure rules from the WCD. For those of you unable to attend, themost important changes are that the attending physician must address the accepted conditions, direct medical sequela, and now any condition directly resulting from the injury when determining medically stationary status and closing information. Another important change is if the injury results in permanent impairment, then you can only apportion impairment to a preexisting condition if it qualifies as a preexisting condition the Workers’ Compensation Statute. Note that if the injury does not result in any impairment, then there is… Continue reading

Why are Claimant’s Attorneys receiving a Fee when the ALJ affirms a Denial?

Kevin Anderson By: Kevin Anderson A claimant’s attorney received a fee for unsuccessfully challenging a new/omitted claim for “arthralgia.” Even though the de facto denial was ultimately upheld, the Court of Appeals agreed $1,500 was a reasonable attorney fee given the procedural delay in responding to claimant’s request. SAIF v. Emma R. Traner, 270 Or App 67 (2015). Another claimant’s attorney received $750 for unsuccessfully challenging an untimely partial denial of a L4-5 disc herniation. Michael Inskeep, 67 Van Natta 522 (2015). How can this be? An insurer is required to accept or deny a claimant’s expansion request within 60 days regardless of whether the claimed condition is compensable or if it is even a medical condition… Continue reading

New Administrative Rules Regarding Claim Closure effective March 1, 2015

By: Kevin Anderson Kevin AndersonThe WCD has published new administrative rules responding to two recent court cases (Brown v. SAIF, 262 Or App 640 (2014); Schleiss v. SAIF, 364 Or 637 (2013)). The WCD initially proposed a broad-sweeping change that would link all claim benefits to the “work injury” instead of “accepted conditions.” Based on the input received from many in the industry, the WCD approved these narrower changes. While there are significant changes throughout the administrative rules, I highlighted the two major changes below. These new rules govern any claim closed on or after March 1, 2015. Closing Reports In initial injury claims only, a closing report will need to “include objective findings of any… Continue reading

WCD Seeks Input on Significant Changes to OAR 436

By: Kevin Anderson Kevin AndersonOver the last few months, the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Division was considering making significant changes to OAR 436 in light of two recent court decisions. (Brown v. SAIF, 262 Or App 640 (2014); Schleiss v. SAIF, 364 Or 637 (2013). The WCD has decided to move forward with a formal rulemaking hearing. While there are many changes to administrative rules, I have highlighted some of the more significant aspects below: Impairment will be awarded for the accepted conditions, direct medical sequela, and now for any condition directly resulting from the work injury; If the compensable injury resulted in permanent impairment, the impairment is only apportioned to denied, superimposed, or legally preexisting conditions (as long… Continue reading

Workers’ Compensation Division Proposes Drastic Overhaul to OAR 436

Kevin AndersonBy: Kevin Anderson Back in May, we let you know about a Court of Appeals decision that could have drastic changes to processing combined conditions. Brown v. SAIF (2014). After Brown, the proper inquiry in analyzing a combined condition is whether the work injury ceased being the major cause of the disability and need for treatment, as opposed to looking at the accepted condition. The Oregon Supreme Court has just agreed to review the Brown decision.   The Supreme Court also issued a decision significantly affecting the impairment rating process. Schleiss v. SAIF (2013). After Schleiss, if the work injury materially contributed to claimant’s impairment, then all of the impairment is due to the… Continue reading