Sather Byerly and Holloway is Hiring!

lacee jonesSBH is growing and looking for a Washington-licensed attorney to join its Washington workers’ compensation litigation team. SBH seeks a full-time associate with 2 – 6 years workers’ compensation or civil litigation experience. Besides a strong academic and professional record, we are looking for someone with a keen business sense and entrepreneurial view of the practice of law. The associate will primarily assist in handling Washington workers’ compensation cases. Washington state bar membership is required. Interested candidates may email a cover letter, resume, writing sample, and references to the SBH office administrator Lacee Jones (ljones@sbhlegal.com). If you or your colleagues know an attorney you enjoy working with who would make a great member of the SBH… Continue reading

Oregon Workers’ Compensation Division announces new administrative rules in response to Brown v. SAIF

On March 30, 2017, the Oregon Supreme Court issued a much-awaited decision in Brown v. SAIF Corporation, 361 Or 241 (2017), ruling that the term “compensable injury” shall be interpreted to mean only the medical conditions accepted by the insurer or self-insured employer. Since then, however, there has been some uncertainty regarding how and when the Workers’ Compensation Division (WCD) would permanently incorporate the Brown ruling into the Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR), Chapter 436. On September 8, 2017, the WCD announced and posted its final amendments to the following Divisions: OAR 436-010, Medical Services; OAR 436-030, Claim Closure and Reconsideration; and OAR 436-035, Disability Rating Standards. The permanent rules are effective October 8, 2017. As expected, the predominant change in… Continue reading

LHWCA Caselaw Update

This quarter most decisions were unpublished and not especially noteworthy. Unpublished decisions cannot be cited as precedent are instructive. Huntington Ingalls fought and lost a series of battles against medical providers who sought payment for claim related services. It offered payment equal to the amount the providers agreed to accept in agreements with private insurers. The District Director recommended payment at the OWCP fee schedule rate, which was more than the private insurer rate but less than the amount billed. The Board held it could not consider the validity of the private insurer rates, but under the LHWCA it could order the employer to pay… Continue reading

Join SBH at the 2017 Oregon PRIMA Annual Conference

stephen verotskyJoin SBH attorneys Steve Verotsky and Krishna Balasubramani at the 2017 annual Oregon PRIMA Conference. The conference will be held at Salishan Lodge in Gleneden Beach September 27-29. Steve and Krishna will discuss recent workers’ compensation and employment law cases including the recent supreme court decision in Brown v. SAIF. Their presentation will focus on case law with practical advice for public entities. To register for the conference click here.

Oregon WCD implements new rejection policy for incomplete or incorrect 801 forms

In a June 27, 2017 Industry Notice, the Oregon WCD announced it will reject incomplete or incorrect insurer/employer created 801 and 1502 forms. Insurers and self-insured employers are required to process and file claims and reports with the WCD in compliance with ORS 656 and OAR chapter 436. OAR 436-060-0011 requires insurers/self-insured employers file a 1502 form within 14 days of (1) the initial decision to accept or deny the claim; (2) the date of any reopening of the claim; (3) the date of change in the acceptance or classification of the claim; (4) the date of a litigation order or the insurer’s decision that changes the acceptance or classification of the claim or causes the claim to be… Continue reading

Oregon Passes Fair Work Week Legislation

Oregon made national news yesterday as the first state to pass legislation requiring employers to provide greater schedule predictability to low-wage employees in the retail, food service, and hospitality industries. The bill applies to employers with at least 500 employees worldwide. The bill (SB 828) attempts to address issues that arise with irregular and unpredictable scheduling. One in six Oregonians receive less than 24-hour notice of their job shifts. Employers will now be required to post work schedules 7 days in advance that include all work shifts and on-call shifts for the work period. If the employer wants to change the schedule after the advance posting, the employee may decline any work shifts not included in the written… Continue reading

Minimum Wage Increases July 1, 2017

Oregon’s second rate increase under 2016 legislation goes into effect on July 1, 2017. The minimum wage for your company turns on your location. The standard rate will increase to $10.25/hour and applies to most of the state. But nonurban counties have a lower rate increase to $10.00/hour. The nonurban counties include: Baker, Coos, Crook, Curry, Douglas, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Klamath, Lake, Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa and Wheeler counties. And employers located in the Portland Metro area will have a higher rate increase to $11.25/hour. Unsure if your location falls inside the Portland Metro area for purposes of minimum wage? Visit this website and confirm: http://www.oregonmetro.gov/library/urban-growth-boundary/lookup If you have questions about wage and hour law, please give… Continue reading

LHWCA Caselaw Update

Below are recent decisions under the LHWCA. Decisions are published in Lexis and posted on the BRB website through 5/30/17. For those among us who deal with Charles Robinowitz, Judge Clark and Judge Gee awarded fees for 2015/2016 services in the range of $350 to $360 rather than $450 to $466, the amount awarded by the Benefits Review Board and 9th Circuit for appellate services in other claims. Judge Clark and Judge Gee based their awards on civil litigation and general categories in the 2012 Oregon State Bar Economic Survey and classified Mr. Robinowitz as a 75th percentile attorney rather than a 95th percentile attorney. In two unpublished decisions the Board affirmed Judge Clark. An appeal from Judge… Continue reading

Join SBH at the DMEC Chapter Meeting on June 7

Need a refresher on the ADA? Want tips about accommodating mental health issues? Join us at the DMEC Chapter Meeting on June 7th, when experts from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) and Kaiser Permanente share their insights on the following ADA topics: accommodating depression & anxiety medical inquiries under the ADA ADA interactive process This half-day program has been approved for 3 CLMS/CPDM credits. It will take place at the Kaiser Permanente Town Hall on 3704 N Interstate Ave. The cost is $50 for members or $60 for nonmembers and includes breakfast. Parking is free. Register at the link below. http://dmec.org/2017/03/10/2017-oregonsouthwest-washington-chapter-meeting-jun-7/

Washington passes strict distracted driving law

Hopefully you are reading this blog post from the safety of your computer and not while driving. If you are using your cell phone to read this while on your morning commute, you could be violating a newly passed Washington Law. Governor Jay Inslee signed a measure that will prohibit Washington drivers from holding an electronic device while driving. Current law in Washington only prohibits texting or holding a phone to the ear while driving. The expanded law prohibits drivers from holding an electronic device while driving, including while in traffic or waiting for a traffic light. This means, no checking Facebook, no reading or sending emails, or using apps. Drivers are allowed to minimally use a finger to activate,… Continue reading

Oregon Court of Appeals further defines susceptibilities or predispositions vs. preexisting conditions.

The Oregon Court of Appeals recently decided another case addressing what qualifies as a preexisting condition. Doris L. Lowells v. SAIF, 285 Or App 161 (2017). In Lowells, the court confirmed “chronic pain disorder” was not a compensable occupational disease because the major cause of the condition was claimant’s weight, deconditioning, and chronic tobacco use. Claimant argued on appeal that those personal factors should not be considered because they were “mere susceptibilities or predispositions.” The court previously discussed preexisting conditions and confirmed if a condition merely renders a worker more susceptible to an injury, but does not actively contribute to damaging the body part, it cannot qualify as a preexisting condition. Corkum v. Bi-Mart Corp., 271 Or App 411, 419,… Continue reading

Oregon WCD issues Temporary Rules Clarifying Claim Closure Requirements

In our efforts to keep you apprised of the latest developments regarding the Oregon Supreme Court’s decision in Brown (see Andrew’s blog on the case here.) and how the decision could affect claim processing (see Megan’s blog on the issue here.), we are forwarding the temporary administrative rules issued by the WCD. As expected, the rules confirm that medically stationary status, permanent impairment, and permanent work restrictions must relate to the accepted condition or to a direct medical sequela of the accepted condition. The temporary rules remove the phrase “a condition directly resulting from the work injury.” The WCD also revised Bulletin 239, the claim closure guide provided to medical arbiters. The bulletin provides useful information to ask the attending… Continue reading

WCD Adresses Supreme Court’s Brown v. SAIF decision

The Oregon Supreme Court’s recent decision in Brown v. SAIF, 361 Or 241 (2017) calls into doubt the applicability of the Workers’ Compensation Division rules involving claim closure. Specifically, the WCD amended closure rules in 2015 to require an impairment rating based on the compensable injury rather than the accepted conditions. Brown held that a compensable injury refers only to the accepted conditions. (For more information on the recent decision see Andrew Evenson’s post here.) The WCD issued an industry notice on April 3, 2017 to address the case. The WCD is reviewing the rules and will be holding its first meeting to discuss rule changes in light of the recent decision on April 20, 2017. The WCD stated they… Continue reading

What can Brown do for you? In a long-awaited decision, the Oregon Supreme Court reverses Brown v. SAIF

It has been almost three years since the Oregon Court of Appeals issued its decision in Brown v. SAIF, 262 Or App 640 (2014), finding that a “compensable work injury” referred to the injurious incident and all the conditions that flowed from it, accepted or not. The case was appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court, which issued its decision on March 30, 2017, reversing the Court of Appeals’ decision and affirming the Workers’ Compensation Board decision. In a lengthy opinion, the Supreme Court ruled that the term “compensable injury” shall be interpreted to mean only the medical conditions accepted by the insurer or self-insured employer. This case involved a combined condition denial. The claim was accepted for a lumbar strain… Continue reading

Join SBH Attorney Lauren Oda at WSIA Region Meetings

Lauren Oda will be presenting with orthopaedic surgeon Scott Kitchel, M.D. at four WSIA Region Meetings in April. Lauren and Dr. Kitchel will discuss common orthopaedic injuries of the spine and various mechanisms of injuries. The presentation will also discuss strategies for writing clear and concise IME cover letters to obtain persuasive IME reports. Information on the meetings is below. Tuesday, April 4, 2017 8:00 AM- 9:45 AM WSIA Office • 828 7th Avenue Southeast • Olympia, WA 98501 Tuesday, April 4, 2017 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM Valley Medical Center • Medical Arts Center MAC A • 400 S. 43rd Street Renton, Washington 98055 Tuesday, April 25, 2017 8:00 AM – 9:30 AM US Bancorp Tower • Training Room… Continue reading

Disability/Leave Roundtable for Employers

The Oregon/SW Washington chapter of the DMEC is hosting a free lunch roundtable on March 15, 2017. Employers, HR professionals, and leave administrators are encouraged to attend to discuss leave management challenges. The event is free, but registration is required. March 15, 2017 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Kaiser Town Hall – 3704 N Interstate Avenue. Register here: http://dmec.org/2016/12/20/2017-oregonsouthwest-washington-chapter-meeting-mar-15/

New 801 Form and Medical Treatment

You may have noticed, the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Division has revised the standard Form-801 “Report of Job Injury or Illness.” This form is the normal starting place for many claims and used throughout the claims administration process. The new revisions include acknowledgements by both the worker and employer regarding the worker’s right to select their medical provider. Specifically, by signing the 801: The worker is agreeing “I understand I have a right to see a health care provider of my choice subject to certain restrictions under ORS 656.260 and ORS 656.325.” The employer is agreeing “I understand I may not restrict the worker’s choice of or access to a health care provider. If I do, it could result in… Continue reading

LHWCA Caselaw Summary

The following is a review of recent relevant Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act caselaw. There were relatively few decisions and none created new law with the possible exception of the 4th Circuit’s decision in Metro Machine Corporation. The Benefits Review Board issued 13 LHWCA decisions in November, 5 in December, and has not posted January decisions on its website. All of the Board decision were designated as unpublished. They are instructive but do not set precedent. Average Weekly Wage – §10(c) No mandate to base average weekly wage exclusively on overseas earnings. Kuza v. Global Linguist Solutions, LLC, BRB 16-0227, 12/8/16 (unpublished). In 2012, for three and one-half months, claimant worked for UPS in the… Continue reading

Changes to Oregon rules regarding Employer/Insurer Coverage Responsibility effective as of January 1, 2017

White, David_160x222OAR 436-050 governs the responsibility of employers and insurers to provide workers’ compensation coverage to subject workers for compensable injuries and illnesses. Many changes to an employer/insurers coverage responsibility went into effect at the start of the New Year. Some of these changes were stylistic and meant to provide improved clarity through better organization and use of plain language. Other changes were more substantive and are outlined below. OAR 436-050-0110/OAR 436-050-0210: Requires insurers/self-insurers to process and maintain claim records in the State of Oregon. However, insurers can receive claim reports and issue payments from outside the state so long as records are forwarded to or payments are directed from Oregon. OAR 436-050-0150(3): Requires employers to maintain a financial rating of… Continue reading

Changes to Oregon Employer-at-Injury Program effective as of January 1, 2017

Anderson, Kevin_webOAR 436-105 explains who qualifies for and how to request assistance and reimbursement from the Employer-at-Injury Program (EAIP). The EAIP encourages early return to work by providing incentives to employers from the Workers’ Benefit Fund. Several changes were made to the EAIP administrative rules and vocational assistance rules. The following are some of the key changes to the EAIP. OAR 436-105-0003(3): Clarifies documents can be submitted to the WCD via the US Postal Service, physical delivery to the Salem WCD office, fax, or any other method approved by the WCD (the WCD is working on developing an online portal system similar to the WCB’s portal). OAR 436-105-0006: Specifies money from the Workers’ Benefit Fund cannot be used to provide benefits… Continue reading
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