Megan Vaniman

Claimant’s request for hearing on 10 year old denial is untimely.

Vaniman-Megan_160-x-222On October 26, 2006, SAIF issued a denial of claimant’s injury claim. The denial was mailed via certified mail and a person who identified himself as claimant signed for the denial. In June 2015, claimant requested hearing on the denial. Claimant testified that the address the denial was sent to was his address but denied signing for it. Claimant argued the statutory timeline for requesting the hearing did not start until he was made aware of the denial in June 2015. The Board first held the relevant time period for starting the statutory timeline is the date the denial is mailed, not the date claimant became aware of the denial. The Board next held, per ORS 656.319(1), there… Continue reading

Department of Labor increases penalties under LHWCA

Vaniman-Megan_160-x-222The Department of Labor issued an interim final rule increasing penalties assessed by the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs under the LHWCA. The new rules increase penalties for: Failure to file first report of injury or filing a false statement or misrepresentation in first report increased from maximum of $11,000 to $22,587 Failure to report termination of payments increase from $110 to $275 Discrimination against employees who claim compensation increase from the current minimum of $1,100 to a minimum of $2,259 and increase from the current maximum of $5,500 to a maximum of $$1,293 A copy of the interim final rules can be found here. An interim final rule goes into effect as soon as it is published but… Continue reading

Pohrman Lives On

Vaniman-Megan_160-x-222U.S. Bank v. Pohrman, 272 Or App 31 (2015), the Court of Appeals case that determined an injury suffered while an employee is on break can be compensable, lives on in recent Board cases. In Angelina Cox, 68 Van Natta 792, the employer required all employees to take two paid 15-minute rest breaks during the work day. Employees could do what they wished during these breaks. Claimant often took walks during her break. On the day of her injury as she returned from a walk, she slipped and fell at the entrance to the building her employer rented space. Employer argued the going and coming rule applied. Under the going and coming rule, an injury is generally not compensable if… Continue reading

NLRB rules it’s your right to be unhappy at work

Vaniman-Megan_160-x-222Want to be unhappy at work? Now grumpy employees have the law on their side. The Communications Workers of America Local 7011 Union challenged T-Mobile’s employee handbook clause requiring employees to “maintain positive work environment by communicating in a manner that is conducive to effective working relationships…” Federal law gives employees the right to form, join, or assist a union. The Union argued the phrases “maintain a positive work environment” and “communicating in a manner that is conducive to effective working relationships…” was ambiguous and vague and could reasonably chill employees exercise of their right to form a union. The National Labor Board agreed. The Board held the rule could be construed to restrict potentially controversial or… Continue reading

SBH 2016 Race for Justice Sponsor

Vaniman-Megan_160-x-222SBH is a proud sponsor of the 2016 Race for Justice. The Race for Justice, now in its 16th year, helps raise funds for the St. Andrew Legal Clinic (SALC). SALC is a non-profit law firm that provides low-cost legal services to families in crisis. SALC is committed to providing security for children, support to women in crisis, and access to justice for the working poor. Though SALC is a serious cause, the Race for Justice is a fun way to support the families who look to SALC for support and advocacy. This 5k race is enjoyed by competitive runners and leisurely walkers. Families often participate together and young children have the opportunity to get… Continue reading

New Bill Alters Timeline for Initial Time Loss Payment

Vaniman-Megan_160-x-222On January 1, 2016, House Bill 2797 went into effect, modifying when initial temporary disability payments must be made. Prior to January 1, 2016, if there was medical authorization for payment of time loss benefits, the insurer was required to begin paying benefits no later than 14 days after the employer had knowledge of the claim. House Bill 2797 amends ORS 656.262(4)(a) and adds another layer to when the 14 day timeline begins. The bill provides that the first payment of time loss benefits is due no later than 14 days after the employer has knowledge of both the claim and the worker’s disability. The attending physician must still authorize temporary disability. The purpose of the bill is to more… Continue reading

Reminder-CDA Requirements

Vaniman-Megan_160-x-222A Claims Disposition Agreement—better known as a CDA—is a great tool to settle accepted claims. Once a claim is accepted, the claimant retains rights to medical services for the compensable injury. A CDA does not release a claimant’s right to these services. Over the summer, we saw the Board clarify interpretation of CDAs that contain “full releases,” aggravation and Own Motion rights. The Board examined several CDAs and determined the CDAs could not release the carrier’s obligation to process Own Motion claims for worsened or new/omitted condition or aggravation rights. The Board approved these CDAs, but interpreted them to mean that claimant retained rights to medical service related benefits. As of September 1st, the Board decided to no… Continue reading

SBH Prevails before Court of Appeals on Case Addressing Occupational Disease Analysis

Vaniman-Megan_160-x-222In Luton v. Willamette Valley Rehabilitation Center, 432 Or App 487 (2015), claimant filed a claim for right wrist pain. He testified that on April 5, 2010 he was doing a job requiring him to wrap sticks with a band when he felt a tearing in his cartilage. He experienced more pain the following week. An MRI eventually showed a TFC tear. No doctor could definitively state when the tear occurred, although one felt it likely occurred with wear and tear over time. The ALJ determined the TFC tear should be analyzed as an injury and found it compensable. The Board reversed, concluding the evidence showed the TFC tear occurred over time even though claimant testified… Continue reading

Oregon Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Brown v. SAIF

Vaniman-Megan_160-x-222By: Megan Vaniman In May 2014, the Oregon Court of Appeals issued Brown v. SAIF, 262 Or App 640 (2014). The case changed the test for closing an accepted combined condition claim. Prior to the case, in order to close a combined condition claim, a carrier had to prove the accepted condition was no longer the major contributing cause of the need for treatment of the combined condition. In Brown the court held the carrier must prove the compensable injury is no longer the major contributing cause of the need for treatment of the combined condition. SAIF appealed the decision. On Monday, May 11, 2015 the Supreme Court heard oral arguments from the parties. To listen… Continue reading

Could an Increase in Assessed Attorney Fees be Coming?

Vaniman-Megan_160-x-222By: Megan Vaniman House Bill 2764 was introduced to the House Floor on April 20, 2015. HB 2764, spearheaded by the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association, is wide-reaching and proposes to increase or create new bases for attorney fee awards. HB 2764 has the potential to significantly increase employers’ workers’ compensation costs and premium rates, according to Oregon’s rate setter, NCCI. HB 2764 proposes a policy change that would require ALJs and the Board to award benefits if a reasonable interpretation of the law would allow benefits. This threatens the impartiality of the administrative process and, over time, the system will award benefits in more and more situations. Specifically, HB 2764 proposes to remove the $3,000 limit on… Continue reading