New Rules in Oregon Affecting Assessed Attorney Fees in Workers’ Compensation Cases

The Oregon Workers’ Compensation Board (“WCB”) met on August 18, 2020 to finalize two new rule proposals affecting attorney fees for claimant’s counsel.

First, the WCB will allow information about the claimant’s attorney’s hourly rate to be considered when awarding an assessed fee. This will be an additional factor to the already enumerated factors (time devoted, complexity, value of case, etc.). Additionally, this is an optional factor meaning it does not have to be considered in every case. From the discussions, it sounds like many claimant’s attorneys will submit information from the Oregon Bar about hourly rates, affidavits from other attorneys, and other information to justify how they came to their hourly rate. This new rule will apply to orders awarding assessed fees issued on or after October 1, 2020.

Second, the WCB will create a new, optional bifurcated system for determining fees on Board review. If claimant’s attorney chooses, they can request the WCB carve out a separate decision just on how they calculated claimant’s counsel’s fee. The attorney must initiate a request within 14 days of completing briefing on the merits of the case. If the WCB issues an order which would result in an assessed fee, a new briefing schedule would start on just the attorney fee issue. This will apply to cases in which a request for Board review has been filed on or after October 1, 2020.

If you have any questions on how these new rules or procedures affect your cases, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at kanderson@sbhlegal.com or 503-595-2130.