Oregon Annual Adjustment to Maximum Attorney Fees Effective July 1, 2022
It’s that time of year again, the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Board published the annual adjustment to attorney fees awarded under ORS 656.262(11)(a); ORS 656.262(14)(a); and ORS 656.308(2)(d).
Per ORS 656.262(11)(a) and ORS 656.308(2), maximum attorney fees under these subsections are adjusted annually by the same percentage made to the state’s average weekly wage (SAWW). OAR 438- 015-0038, OAR 438-015-0055(5) and OAR 438-015-0110(3), provide that the maximum attorney fee is subject to the annual adjustment by the same percentage increase as made to the SAWW as calculated by the WCD.
In addition, the Board adopted amendments to OAR 438-015-0033 in March 2020 which state, in the context of the reasonable hourly rate for an attorney’s time spent during an interview or deposition under ORS 656.262(14)(a), the maxim attorney fee is also subject to an annual adjustment on July 1st by the same percentage increase as the SAWW.
As of July 1, 2022, the SAWW is $1,325.24, which increased 6.263 percent compared to the SAWW last year. Therefore, the 6.263 percent is applied to the maximum attorney fees under ORS 656.262(11)(a); ORS 656.262(14)(a); and ORS 656.308(2)(d). The adjusted maximum fee amount applies to attorney fees under the three statutes through June 30, 2023 until the new annual adjustment rate goes into effect.
- ORS 656.262(11)(a)- this statute applies to attorney fees awarded for unreasonable delays or unreasonable refusal to pay compensation (i.e. unreasonable claim processing). Based on the annual increase, the maximum attorney fee shall not exceed $5,813.00 absent a showing of extraordinary circumstances.
- ORS 656.262(14)(a)- this statute applies to attorney fees for a worker’s attorney who participates in interviews or depositions related to initial claim investigation. These fees are not awarded fees by an ALJ, rather the statute requires the insurer to pay the attorney a reasonable fee based on an hourly rate for the “actual time spent” during the interview or deposition. The maximum attorney fee under this statute shall not exceed $444.00 per hour based on the annual increase. This attorney fee is not subject to a “showing of extraordinary circumstances.”
- ORS 656.308(2)(d)- this statute applies to attorney fees awarded for prevailing over a responsibility denial. Pursuant to the annual increase, the maximum attorney fee shall not exceed $4,193.00 absent a showing of extraordinary circumstances.
Based on the annual adjustment, we will likely see claimant’s attorneys asking for higher fees in the context of ORS 656.262(11)(a), ORS 656.262(14)(a), and ORS 656.308(2)(d).
If you have any questions about the annual attorney fee adjustment in Oregon, feel free to contact me at or 503-595-6115.
Posted by Hannah Teig.