March 6, 2023
by Anna McFaul

Where should Oregon Claim Disputes be Decided?

When Oregon workers’ compensation claim disputes arise, it is important to assess whether the dispute should be heard by the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Division or by the Workers’ Compensation Board. Oregon workers’ compensation statutory and regulatory scheme provides that the Board has jurisdiction over “matters concerning a claim.” ORS 656.283(1); ORS 656.704(1), (3)(a). Litigation involving disputes other than “matters concerning a claim” should be initiated with the WCD. ORS 656.704(2)(a); OAR 436-060-0008(3). “Matters concerning a claim” are defined as “matters in which a worker’s right to receive compensation, or the amount thereof, are directly in issue.” ORS 656.704(3)(a).

This distinction recently came in to play in the Hibbs case. James Hibbs, 75 Van Natta 27 (January 18, 2023). In Hibbs, claimant’s attending physician requested a closing independent medical examination to rate permanent impairment. The administrator scheduled the requested independent medical examination and issued the required exam notice. Claimant did not attend the exam and filed a request for hearing with the Board alleging unreasonable claim processing and seeking penalties and fees. Claimant contended the notice for the independent medical exam was unreasonable as it was the fourth such exam and had not been authorized by the Director.

The Board determined the WCD had initial authority over whether to grant additional independent medical examinations and disputes regarding such requests. The Board confirmed it did not have jurisdiction to address claimant’s request for hearing as the dispute did not involve a “matter concerning a claim.” The Board dismissed the claimant’s hearing request and transferred the matter to the WCD.

If you have questions about workers’ compensation and whether the Board or the WCD should determine a dispute please contact contact me at or 503-412-3101.

Posted by Anna McFaul.