Oregon In-Person Workers’ Compensation Hearings Appear to Remain on Hold
It was only a few weeks ago vaccination rates were increasing, businesses were reopening to the public, and people were starting to return to their offices. However, with the recent increase in COVID cases and specifically the delta-variant, businesses have had to resume their mask mandate and the return to the office for many workers may be on hold.
Workers’ compensation hearings have been no different. Hearings have been proceeding with telephonic and more recently video hearings for a while now. Many people were starting to discuss whether in person hearings would resume in 2021 and if so, whether they would default to remote hearings or in person hearings. While we are still waiting word from the WCB, groups in our systems have started discussing what remote hearings might look like going forward.
On the one hand, remote hearings have allowed workers and employer to participate in hearings without having to travel long distances. Parties can avoid travelling in inclement weather. And participants can continue to take precautions such as social distancing by appearing remotely.
On the other hand, remote hearings can prove difficult due to technological issues, parties not having access to the equipment needed for a remote hearing, or parties not knowing the hearing is occurring remotely. Further, there are advantages to in-person testimony. Especially in cases involving credibility of witnesses.
So, what has been your experience with the remote hearings? Are they working? Do you think they help or hurt parties be involved in the hearing process? Would you recommend any changes to the process to make it easier for parties to participate in a remote hearing? If you have any ideas, questions, or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at or 503-595-2130.