Oregon State Legislature likely to pass House Bill 3471, creating new law for future “global” workers’ compensation settlements
Oregon workers’ compensation claim settlements come in many forms. Claim Disposition Agreements (CDAs) resolve disability entitlements related to an accepted claim, such as temporary and permanent disability benefits, aggravation rights, and entitlement to vocational services. Disputed Claim Settlement Agreements (DCSs) affirm partial and complete claim denials and, if a current condition denial is encompassed, can also impact future medical benefits. Often, however, the parties seek a “global” settlement, which includes the above, as well as a formal Employment Release. One benefit of “global” settlements is the degree of finality and certainty they provide both parties.
However, on March 29, the Oregon State Legislature passed House Bill 3471 through committee, and it is expected to be signed into law this legislative session. While the final language and terms of the bill remain in flux, the bill will likely have a chilling effect on an employer/insurer/administrator’s opportunity to pursue “global” settlements. Under the current proposed language of the bill, an employer may not enter into a settlement agreement, including a DCS and/or CDA, or any other settlement or agreement, that disposes of all or part of a worker’s claim, that contains a provision barring the worker from seeking further employment, reemployment or reinstatement, with the employer, unless such provision is first requested by the worker, as well as the introduction of a $5,000 fine for an employer/insurer/administrator’s violation. Other amendments include a carve-out if the worker is represented by counsel.
As currently proposed, however, when seeking claim settlement, the employer/insurer/administrator would no longer be allowed to suggest or seek a formal Employment Release within the agreement, unless the worker and/or worker’s counsel does so first. SBH argued before the legislature that the proposed bill would significantly reduce workers’ compensation claim settlements, which would result in a dramatic increase in litigation before the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Board, among other foreseeable fallout. Despite that, Oregon House Bill 3471 recently passed committee and, because a public “emergency” was declared to exist, the 2023 bill would take immediate effect upon its passage.
If you have any questions regarding the impending impact of House Bill 3471, your claim resolution strategy, or any other Oregon workers’ compensation issue, please contact me at or 503-595-6109. If you would like to get involved and testify on this legislation, please let us know as well.
Posted by Andrew Evenson.